Showing posts with label podcasts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label podcasts. Show all posts

26 March 2019

Can You Hear Me Now?


Thanks to the fine folks at Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, a recording of me reading my Agatha Award-nominated short story "Bug Appétit" will be available online at the EQMM website beginning April 1st. (It's true. No April Fool's here.) When they asked me to make the recording, my biggest concern was technical. How could I get a good version of me reading my story in Virginia up to New York, from where it would get uploaded to the EQMM podcast site? That may sound like a no-brainer to many of you, but for me, well, let's just say I'm not really great with new technology. I'm still waiting for someone to teach me how to use the Bluetooth in my car.
Eventually things got worked out technologically speaking (thank you, Jackie Sherbow), so I was able to focus on my next worry: I have five speaking characters in my story. How was I going to make them sound different enough that the listener would be able to tell them apart? If you're reading the story on paper (or on a screen), you can see when a speaker changes, even without a dialogue tag, because you'll see a closing quotation mark, then a change in paragraph, and the next line of dialogue opens with an open quotation mark. You're not going to have those visual signals with audio. My friends told me not to worry--ha!--and said that surely it would all be fine.

"Bug Appétit" was in the
Nov./Dec. 2018 issue
Skeptical, I realized procrastinating was doing me no good. So I put those worries aside and moved on to the next ones: Was I properly pronouncing all the words in the story? Would I talk too quickly?--something I've been accused of in the past. Would I insert verbal tics (umms, etc.) without realizing it? To address these concerns I looked up the words I was unsure of, including researching regional pronunciations, and practiced reading out loud. Then I recorded the story, sent it off to New York, and now I wait anxiously for April 1st to arrive for the recording to be posted so I can see (or more precisely, hear) if I did an okay job.

In the meanwhile, here are some things I've learned from this experience:

(1) Even if you think you've written a funny story, you can't laugh at your own jokes while you read the story aloud. This is tougher than you'd think when you're a hoot. (Just saying.)

(2) While Alexa may be good at a lot of things, pronunciation isn't one of them. When I asked her how to pronounce "sago" (as in sago grubs), which I spelled out for her, she pronounced it for me--the same way I would have said it instinctively. Woo-hoo! But then she said that she's not often good at pronouncing things and while she's always improving, maybe I shouldn't rely on her. So much for technology.

(3) "Pecan pie" is one of those terms that is pronounced differently in various parts of the United States. Where I grew up on Long Island, it's pronounced PEE-can pie. (Every time I say it or think it, I can hear Billy Crystal saying it over and over in When Harry Met Sally. "Pee-can pie. Pee-can pie. Pee-can piiiiie." But on the West Coast, where my story is set, many people pronounce it pih-KHAN  pie. I had to practice to say it right.





(4) Practice doesn't always make perfect. When you read aloud, you instinctively say a word the way you've always said it, no matter how much you practice. Or at least that's what happened to me, which is why I had to stop and re-read that part for the recording. Twice. That pih-KHAN pie was hard fought.

(5) No matter how hard you try to remove background noise, when you're recording something, there will always be a plane flying overhead.

(6) And when you have a dog named Jingle, he will become velcro right when you want to start recording and then he will live up to his name, moving and scratching and jingling over and over and over, so you have to stop and restart the recording over and over and over. And over.

(7) Eventually you'll get so frustrated you'll tug his collar off and tell him to be quiet (perhaps with some expletives mixed in). When he finally does it and falls asleep, you'll sigh in relief, but beware: your bliss will be short-lived. Because within a few minutes the dog will start to snore. Of course he will.

(8) Effecting five different voices plus the one saying the internal monologue is not easy. I found that I physically tried to embody each character, stretching tall with my nose raised whenever the mother spoke, tilting my head sideways to get the amused dad's voice right, and internalizing the narrator's voice from season two of Fargo when I read the exposition. The only voice that came really easily was the grandma's--a woman who spoke her mind. Go figure.

(9) Reading a story aloud takes much longer than you'd expect. Much longer than reading it silently. Let's hope that means I read it slowly enough without any verbal tics. And, um, if I, um, included some tics, um, please don't tell me.

(10) If the fine folks at EQMM ever ask you to record one of your stories for their podcast, jump at the chance. It was a lot of fun. But first, arrange for your dog to go on a long walk before you hit record. The last thing you want listeners to hear while you're reading your story is someone snoring in the background.

07 May 2014

Busy week


Been an interesting and busy week at Casa Lopresti.
For instance, on Sunday I looked at My Little Corner, Sandra Seaman's indispensible blog and saw a link to Angie's Desk's listing of anthologies looking for stories.  And I had a tale that would fit one.  The next morning I checked my records and found that that story had been sitting at a magazine for six months, waiting for judgment.  So, obviously I couldn't send it it somewhere else.

Five minutes later I received an email rejection from the magazine.  Okay, I guess fate wanted me to send that story to the anthology.  We will see if the editor agrees.

Last month I had an idea for a piece of flash fiction (under 1000 words).  Problem was, it was about a new scam that is making the rounds and if I sent it to one of the paper magazines it might not appear for a year.  And, darn it, I wanted to make sure people knew about the scam now.

So I got a brain storm.  On Sunday I contacted Linda Landrigan and she agreed.  "Shanks Holds The Line" is now up on the Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine blog, Trace Evidence.  I hope you enjoy it.  (And thanks to our own R.T. Lawton for editorial help along the way.) 


But wait!  There's more!  Crime City Central is part of District of Wonders, a series of free podcasts that include readings of short stories.  (My favorite title is their science fiction entry: Starship Sofa!)

They asked me to contribute a story and so in their current entry you will find "Shanks On The Prowl," which originally appeared in AHMM back in May 2006.  The expert reading is by Rob Smales.  I had a fun time e-chatting with Mr. Smales, who wanted to make sure he got all the pronunciations of the character's names right.  I think he scored one hundred percent.

Okay, I'm sure the next few months will be back to humdrum normal.  I can cope.  Hoping you the same.

And here are last week's movie quotations, with the sources:

1.  -Well, I also feel it's about time someone knocked the Axis back on its heels.
-Excuse me, Baby. What she means it's about time someone knocked those heels back on their axis.  Leda Hamilton  ( Kaaren Verne)/ Gloves Donahue (Humphrey Bogart) All Through The Night


2.  Twelve people go off into a room: twelve different minds, twelve different hearts, from twelve different walks of life; twelve sets of eyes, ears, shapes, and sizes. And these twelve people are asked to judge another human being as different from them as they are from each other. And in their judgment, they must become of one mind - unanimous. It's one of the miracles of Man's disorganized soul that they can do it, and in most instances, do it right well. God bless juries.  -Parnell McCarthy (Arthur O'Connell) Anatomy of a Murder

3.  -If we wanted applause, we would have joined the circus. 
-I thought we did.  -Jack O'Donnell (Bryan Cranston)/ Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck)  Argo

4.  Exactly how many laws are we breaking here?
-You don't want to know. - Senator (Victor A. Young)/ Edgar Clenteen (David Morse) Bait

5.  -Your demands are very great under the circumstances.
-Why shouldn't they be?  Fat Gut's my best friend, and I will not betray him cheaply.  -Ahmed (Manuel Serano) / Dannreuther (Humphrey Bogart) Beat The Devil

6.  - I'm a brother shamus!
-Brother Shamus?  Like an Irish monk? -Da Fino (Jon Polito)/ The Dude (Jeff Bridges) The Big Lebowshi

7.  -Why did you have to go on?
-Too many people told me to stop.  -Vivian (Lauren Bacall)/ Marlowe  (Humphrey Bogart)  The Big Sleep

8.  Of course, you won't be able to lie on your back for a while but then you can lie from any position, can't you?  - Reggie Lambert (Audrey Hepburn) , Charade

9.  Saddam? His name's Saddam? Oh, that's real good, Bruce. Yeah, I'm gonna pin a medal on an Iraqi named Saddam. Give yourself a raise, will you? -Rick Cabot (Brendan Fraser) -Crash.

10.  Freedom is overrated.  - John Booth (David Morse).  The Crossing Guard.

11.  -Will two hundred dollars be enough in advance, Mr Reardon?
-Two hundred, I'd shoot my grandmother.
-That won't be neccessary.
-Never can tell. In my last case, I had to throw my own brother out of an airplane.
- Juliet Forrest (Rachel Ward)  / RIgby Reardon (Steve Martin) Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid

12.  There's a hundred-thousand streets in this city. You don't need to know the route. You give me a time and a place, I give you a five minute window. Anything happens in that five minutes and I'm yours. No matter what. Anything happens a minute either side of that and you're on your own. Do you understand? -Driver (Ryan Gosling) Drive

13.  I am Nikita! - Guess Who (Anne Parillaud)  La Femme Nikita

14.  -My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.
-Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don't have men killed.
-Oh. Who's being naive, Kay?  - Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) / Kay Adams (Diane Keaton) The Godfather

15.  When you think of what they have to carry, all those jimmies and torches and skeleton keys, it's a miracle anyone ever gets burgled at all. - Lady Constance (Maggie Smith) Gosford Park

16.  Locked, from the inside. That can only mean one thing. And I don't know what it is. - Sam Diamond (Peter Falk) Murder By Death

17.  You know, this'll be the first time I've ever killed anyone I knew so little and liked so well.  - Helen Grayle (Claire Treveor) Murder, My Sweet

18.  Well, you take a big chance getting up in the morning, crossing the street, or sticking your face in a fan.  - Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) The Naked Gun

19.  -It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
-If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.-Wendell (Garrett Dillahunt) / Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones)  No Country For Old Men

20.  -Is there a way to win?
-There's a way to lose more slowly.  Kathie Moffatt (Jane Greer) / Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) Out Of The Past

21.  At least meet her. Maybe she'd be someone you'd like to kill.  - Owen (Danny DeVito)  Throw Momma Off The Train.

22.   He's a fanatic. And the fanatic is always concealing a secret doubt.  -George Smiley (Gary Oldham) in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

23.  On TV is where we learn about who we really are.  Because what's the point of doing anything worthwhile if no one's watching?  And if people are watching it makes you a better person.  - Suzanne Stone Maretto (Nicole Kitman) To Die For

24.  - I need your help. I can't tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it later, and we're gonna hurt some people.
- Whose car are we gonna' take?  -Doug McRay (Ben Affleck) /  James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner)  The Town

25.  The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. –Verbal Kint  (Kevin Spacey) The Usual Suspects
 

30 October 2013

Media Blitz


by Robert Lopresti

A long time ago, Robert Benchley wrote the following about his most famous piece, "The Treasurer's Report:" I have inflicted it on the public in every conceivable way except over the radio and dropping it from airplanes.  (And as proof, here is a short, hilarious movie version.)

I am thinking about that because this autumn is seeing my own work coming at the public from a variety of directions.  Not to worry; the phase will pass and by December I will sink back into obscurity.  But let's go over the details of my temporary onslaught.

As I wrote last time, September marked my first appearance in an e-book anthology.  I am sure by now you have all run out (or run your cursor over) to buy a copy of Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble.  Right?

I am happy to inform you you won't have to spend any money for this next feature (although I do like dark chocolate if you're thinking of a gift).  This one is a freebie.

Linda Landrigan, who edits Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, suggested doing a podcast of my story "Snake in the Sweetgrass," which appeared in the December 2003 issue of AHMM.  And if it isn't up now here  it should be by next week.


She sent me the recorder they use and after much diligent practice I was able to record the story with only three mistakes.  And that was the best I could do.  Three different mistakes every time.  (It wasn't like I consistently tripped over the same tongue-twisting phrase, alas.)  Linda assures me they can clean that up.

But here is the cool part.  My story is about an elderly Kentucky fiddler and the title refers to a traditional fiddle piece that is his personal signature tune.  It seemed logical to include a recording of that tune in the podcast.

The problem with that is that I made up the name.  There is no such tune. 

No biggie.  My daughter, Susan Weiner, is a fine composer so she created a tune that matched the description in the story.  And then, extra special treat, my wife Terri Weiner recorded it on the fiddle.

So it is a real family operation and I recommend it highly.  But if that isn't enough to entice you to give it a listen, here is a bonus.  Remember, I said this is a media blitz. 

The January/February issue of Hitchcock's comes out November 4 and I am thrilled to report that the cover story is "Devil Chased The Wolf Away," a sequel to "Snake."  And while you can read "Devil" without experiencing "Snake" you will definitely enjoy them more if you read (or listen to) "Snake" first.

And next Wednesday I will explain how "Devil" came to be written, much to my surprise.