YouTube: A War Beyond War, And I Am The Only Soldier

Here’s the third and the last of my “vaudios,” my author-read stories on the YouTube platform. A War Beyond War, and I Am the Only Soldier was the first (and so far only) fiction story I published in an anthology. It appeared in Satirica: An Anthology of Satirical Speculative Fiction in 2009. It’s not part of my Carbon Run series, so I’ve given the story its own playlist, Weird and Wondrous.

In the 13th century, Dominic de la Traversée is a young monk in a French monastery who undergoes a frightening transformation as he fights for the existence of our perceived universe.

I had some extra fun with Adobe Premiere’s special effects filters, mostly in the beginning of the video. Let me know what you think.

YouTube: Living in Infamy: A Carbon Run Story

Here’s the second of my YouTube “vaudios,” as I like to call my videos that are really audio stories. Living in Infamy is set in a future when fossil fuels are banned. The captain of a US Navy destroyer, plagued by guilt over a friendly-fire incident, hunts a dangerous carbon smuggler and gets help from a disgraced, dead relative. Carbon Run Stories are a series of short stories in text and audio set in a world wracked by climate change. You can also listen to the story on SoundCloud.

Let me know what you think.

YouTube: Zillah Harmonia, a Carbon Run story

In a future decade when fixing the environment is the world’s top priority, an elderly homeowner must decide whether to fight a citation that might mean the loss of her home.

I’ve been experimenting with alternate ways to present my fiction, and I’ve created what I call a “vaudio.” It’s intended for listening more than viewing, while offering a way for me to reach the huge YouTube audience with something unique. Others have tried an audio track with an image, but what I’ve seen on YouTube uses a single still image.

For Zillah Harmonia, in which roses play a prominent role, I took a brief video of a rose in my neighborhood with my smartphone, downloaded it to my laptop, and combined the video with the MP3 file I built for SoundCloud. Using Adobe Premiere Elements, I added the “facet” special effect to soften the image, slowed the original image down by 75 percent, put in a couple of simple titles, and voilà, a vaudio.

Are you trying anything like this? Let me know what you think of my experiment. I’ll be posting more of these soon.

Reading: Living In Infamy, a Carbon Run story

skullAs I mentioned in a previous post, I wrote two Carbon Run short stories, Zillah Harmonia, and Living in Infamy. I’ve recorded the second story and posted it on SoundCloud. In a future when fossil fuels are banned, the captain of a US Navy destroyer, plagued by guilt over a friendly-fire incident, hunts a dangerous carbon smuggler and gets help from a disgraced, dead relative.

Let me know what you think.

Reading: Zillah Harmonia, a Carbon Run Story

RoseThis spring, I took a short story writing class through Hugo House, a Seattle non-profit dedicated to teaching and promoting poetry and literature. I wrote two stories during the eight-week class, and I’ve produced an audio version of one of them, “Zillah Harmonia“. In a future decade when fixing the environment is the world’s top priority, an elderly homeowner must decide whether to fight a citation that might mean the loss of her home. The story is told in the Carbon Run world, which I’ve created in three yet-to-be-published novels. Let me know what you think.

BTW, I’ll publish an audio version of the second story, titled “Living in Infamy,” later this summer.

My equipment for audio story recording and production

audio equipment

Audio equipment I use for recording short stories.

I thought I’d share my equipment and software setup for my audio storytelling project to satisfy all the gear heads and hope-to-be sound jockeys embarking on the great audio publishing journey. My gear is fairly minimal for pro-sounding results, but my equipment is not required to put your toe in the water. In the most elemental setup, you can record your voice via your laptop or phone mic and do some basic editing in any number of lightweight editing software packages. But if you want credible, well-crafted sound, upgrading to relatively inexpensive pro equipment is the way to go. Here’s the list, referencing the photo above. You can purchase most, if not all, this equipment in professional audio catalogs, such as Broadcast Supply and Guitar Center, as well as Amazon.

TASCAM DR-40 Linear PCM Recorder ($169) – This is one step up from a basic digital audio recorder marketed to musicians, but excellent for voice recording. The audio is recorded to an MPG or WAV file to an SD card for easy transfer to a work station for editing. I purchased it primarily because of its ability to take XLR connectors from a robust standard microphone cable. Take note of the silvery things at the top. That’s actually a stereo condenser microphone, which is fine for music demos and voice in a very quiet environment. I prefer a different mic, explained later in this post. Continue reading

Reading: A War Beyond War, And I Am the Only Soldier

I’ve been inspired by fellow writers, particularly my friend Ramona Ridgewell, to experiment with making my short stories available online as audio readings. It’s sort of a no-brainer, given my background in radio and skills in audio production, and I’ve been thinking about it for a long time as a way to promote myself and (hopefully) upcoming novels. I’m using the SoundCloud audio distribution service.

My first audio story (the word “audiobook” doesn’t seem to fit) is called “A War Beyond War, And I Am the Only Soldier.” You can download a free PDF version of the story here. Dominic de la Traversée is a young monk in a 13th century French monastery who undergoes a frightening transformation as he fights for the existence of our perceived universe. I wrote the original story in 2007, and it was published in an anthology called Satirica. The music is by Cory Gray, and it’s available at the Free Music Archive.

I’d love to know what you think of this project. I’ve got a couple more stories in my queue. Do you think I should record those as well?

Review: “After Water” Radio Stories Put Climate Change In a New Light

After Water graphic

WBEZ-FM’s After Water series tells climate change stories centered on the Great Lakes.

Science fiction has a long, glorious history on radio, beginning in the medium’s golden age with Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Sci-fi dropped off radio’s radar as television took over, but the genre occasionally reappears in special projects. Chicago-based WBEZ-FM, one of the country’s leading public radio stations (This American Life; Serial), has produced a thoughtful anthology of stories titled After Water. The producers avoid the term “science fiction,” preferring to “contemplate the future from a dual lens of science and art.” That’s puzzling, because science fiction is at the point where storytelling art and science intersect. Never mind the reluctance. After Water is excellent, whatever you call it, genre-wise.

Purists might prefer the term “speculative fiction,” because all nine radio stories in the series assume a world altered by climate change, and they imagine its impact on the meaning and uses of fresh water. Only fools deny the science of climate change. Today’s question is: How will the phenomenon affect our children and grandchildren? Most of the settings are on Lake Michigan or the Great Lakes, the main source of drinking water for the city of Chicago. Continue reading