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Technical Problems – IMPORTANT!

Anyone who’s subscribed to either my Mevio or Feedburner feeds might notice that there is no longer any content to speak of in them. I’m not sure what happened, but until I hear something else about this I won’t be adding any content to those particular feeds any longer.

However, when new content comes down you can now grab it at http://yo5.ca/outcast/?feed=podcast

As well, you can follow along with the Outcast blog at http://yo5.ca/outcast

Thanks.

New Media Evangelism

Years ago, I started a podcast that was more of a rant show than anything else. I considered it both a test to work out any production bugs in my audio setup prior to podcasting ‘Outcast,’ and as a way to blow off steam during a time when awareness was being raised about how entertainment had become less about the audience and more about the money.

I still have a draft somewhere of what my last episode was going to be (no, not my official last episode before fading out), and sadly, it was going to be about reversing the barrel of so-called ‘New Media’ onto ourselves. That is, I was planning a massive call-out on people who liked to ‘raise awareness.’ You’ve seen these people around, waving signs and shouting slogans at gatherings and demonstrations. Hell, the majority of these ‘Occupy [insert city name here] ‘ is just that: displays aimed at raising awareness that there’s something wrong.

Now, I’m all for that. Red flags, whistle-blowing, and pointing out when something is bullshit is never a bad thing, especially when not doing something about the issue can affect any number of people. I guess that kind of philosophy comes from my working in my company’s Health & Safety group. At the end of the day, we all want to go home safely, knowing we did our jobs properly and that no one died on our watch.

But there’s another side to raising awareness. Like the other half of a golf swing, there’s a need for a follow-through, and this is where so many people fail miserably. Sure, anyone can sit at a computer, or stand at a podium with a bullhorn and spew out line after line of what’s pissing them off; that’s what free speech is all about. It’s easy to whip people up into a frenzy of anger and/or contempt…but what then? You’ve just succeeded in generating a metric butt-load of energy, but now what? You’ve pulled the proverbial hammer back…what now?

This was the core of the episode I was working on. I’d been listening to people like Jelo Biafra and Adam Curry at the time, and was growing more and more frustrated at their ability to stand there and bitch about things, but seemed to have no real solution in mind for what was pissing them off. To be fair, maybe they don’t have a solution and they’re looking to inspire someone to do something, but at the time I was just wanting the lot of them to just shut up. I got sick of listening to their constant complaining about how the world sucks and that we’re all heading for the giant corporate nation model of society.

So, what’s caused me to dredge this up again? What’s gotten me to the point where I’m actually putting text to screen on this subject? Three words: Pacific Coast Hellway

The team of Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff and Mike Yusi (From UC Radio) have once again taken to the airwaves to make us laugh, cry, swear, and in some cases ponder…which is what happened on their last episode. See, both Mike & Mark are passionate about music, and have watched as the music industry became more about the industry than it did about the music. On the last PCH, they talked about how today’s music had become ‘disposable.’ That is, many bands don’t care about an entire album anymore, but only in pushing out a couple of hit singles upon which they can rest their laurels. Hey, so long as the money comes in from one or two songs, why do any more?

There was some talk about how there are no more iconic bands anymore, save a precious few, and that without more present-day icons, that spark of inspiration that created most of today’s bands is fast going out. Maybe they’re right. I don’t listen to a lot of radio these days, so I’m not even sure what’s ‘hip’ and ‘hot’ in terms of music. What few snippets I catch though basically screams that mainstream music is on the express lane to Suckville.

I was about to chalk up the PCH episode to another one of those ‘so what are you going to do about it?’ shows that I was planning to take aim at on my own podcast. But then this morning on the way to work, while listening to the latest UC Radio, I had a revelation. Shows like UC Radio are doing something about it…they’re playing music.

I think the age of the mega rock star is fast fading. Having grown up in that age, I’ll be sorry to see it go, but given just what the large record labels out there have done to music, maybe this age has come and gone. We’re in minute 17 of the age, and instead of a quiet admission and exit, the age of the rock star is clinging desperately to what it used to be, only to find that their music no longer matters. In some cases it never did.

If listening to UC Radio has given me one thing, it’s exposure to bands whose music is infinitely better than most of the shit you hear on the radio. I was never a fan of ‘Indy’ music, but after so many years of listening, I’ve come to realize that despite what you might think, there are a lot of musical gems out there that aren’t getting the air play they deserve because of how the ‘industry’ works. The giants of the music world are looking more at their bottom lines, as any business needs to…but when your decisions can mean a gain or loss in the millions of dollars, then I can understand their not wanting to take any risks or rock the boat too much.

This is bad news for independent bands, so it’s up to shows like UC Radio and Saturday Morning Poke to get that music out there. If anything, we need more shows featuring more genres to help spread the word. I really think what’s keeping some bands from becoming icons in the music world is simple exposure. You can’t influence the next generation if no one hears you.

We’re in an age now where anyone with a microphone, a computer, and an Internet connection can have their voice heard around the world. Some may roll their eyes at the thought of podcasts and podcasters, but I honestly believe that keeping the spirit of music alive lies with us. If the industry leaders are working on a safe, enclosed model of what makes them the most money, then it’s up to people like us to become the ad agency. If you want to lose faith in the record companies, that’s fine…just don’t lose faith in the bands. If you like someone’s music, tell someone. Blog about it, podcast it (if you’re able). Know someone with a radio stream? Let them know about it. Know a DJ or two in SecondLife? Shoot them a note about it. The only way a band will get noticed if they can reach as large an audience as possible.

Damn…this almost makes me want to get back into the ranting podcast game again…

(NOTE: This same post exists on the new Outcast blog, which you can find at http://yo5.ca/outcast)

Let’s face it, podcasting is a very niche market. Podcasting a novel, it seems, is a niche within a niche. You’re already in a limiting market and, let’s be honest here, most people listen to podcasts for reasons other than listening to someone narrate a novel.

I think that’s why when people in the podcast novel ‘business’ get feedback, they’re completely over the moon about it. If you’ve ever written an author, you’ve most likely gotten the line ‘your feedback just made my day’ or something. That’s because it’s true. Contrary to popular belief, the inbox of a podcast novelist is never really that full. So every scrap of it we get is something precious and it does give us the motivation to carry on.

Not long ago though, something happened to me that for some might be cause for ‘meh,’ but for me…well…I think I just about lost it.
August 12-14, 2011 was the first ‘When Words Collide’ literary convention here in Calgary. Now, I didn’t know this was happening this weekend. My friend, Aviva Bel’Harold (http://www.avivabellharold.com) had been invited to do a reading at this ‘thing,’ so I offered to come along to help support her because she’s becoming a friend AND she’s an author. In this day and age, if you can throw your support behind an author who’s trying to make it out there, then do so.

I had no idea that this ‘thing’ was in fact a con…much less the FIRST con under the name. I basically stumbled in on the ground floor of a new con! What was really cool was seeing some familiar faces from the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo there. I picked up a few books, attended some great panels on creativity, NaNoWriMo, attended a couple of release parties (including http://www.the10thcircle.com), and even took a trip to the university to see one of the largest HG Wells literary and media collections out there. As an SF fan, this was a kind of Mecca, really.

On the final day of the con, I got into what they called a Kaffe Klatch, which is a small gathering of people hosted by an author. I’d signed up for one with Robert J. Sawyer (http://www.sfwriter.com/), a rather prolific Canadian SF writer. We all talked about the writing world in general, e-books, libraries…all that stuff. I felt bad that it only lasted an hour, as I think we all could have taken up the rest of his con time there.

As we were leaving, I asked if he could sign a couple of his books that I’d bought; I’d missed him at his usual book signing time the day before. Just as he was about to, his phone rang. Turns out it was a rep for Dragon Con, asking if he’d be willing to stand in for someone on a podcast.

Right then, he turned, looked me right in the eye and said “Sure…I love podcasts.”

Keep in mind I’ve said nothing at this point…not even hinted that I was ‘in the biz’ WRT podcasting. My only identifying feature was my name tag. I told him afterwards that I found it funny that he would look at me and say something like that. I can’t remember exactly what he said, though I think it went something like ‘What makes you think I wouldn’t know who you are?’ or ‘I do my homework.’

GNERK!

So there I was, this wannabe writer in an ocean of writers, publishers, and the like, suddenly singled out and given the nod by one of the biggest fish in the place…I had a stupid grin plastered on my face for the rest of the day.

When someone who has an entire table at a con covered in his assembled works recognizes a name like mine, who’s done relatively little and in a niche-within-niche market…it’s a pretty profound experience…kinda gives one that sense of peer validation…

Which REALLY made my day.

Long Overdue Update

I realize that one of the main purposes of blogging is to jot down your thoughts, feelings, and opinions. For some, it’s a personal venting apparatus, allowing us to push out the white noise that life continuously throws at you. Whether it be from your personal or professional life (or both), stress has a way of compounding on you and grinding those tiny motions of creativity and inspiration to a halt.

However, when your blog is being used with the expectation of having an audience (like this one), the blogger has a bit of a decision to make: Do they create another blog to serve as a vent/scratching post, or do they air all their dirty laundry to the public in hopes of some kind of vindication or sympathy? Some people choose the latter in this respect, and personally that just makes me shake my head and mutter something under my breath that I really shouldn’t repeat here.

Yet, when things get in the way of your creative processes and actually compromise that silent contract you’ve made with your fans, there is a certain degree of responsibility and accountability that exists. I say silent contract because while it’s not written down anywhere or mentioned verbally, the moment you present content for consumption by the masses, there is a responsibility to see it through to its end, or at the very least continue with it until you make the conscious decision to stop delivering. To that end, some notification of your plans to fade away should be made known to your fans so they can brace themselves for the end.

The reason I’m rambling on like this is because I know I’ve been silent for months at a time, posting almost never, and not really communicating with you, my faithful readers/listeners. I’m not trying to make an excuse here, but more trying to let you know what’s been happening to me and why ‘Outcast’ has slowed to a crawl.

In December of last year, the left side of my head exploded in pain while I was at work. It was intense enough that I actually had a hard time standing and walking. For the briefest time I’d lost my sense of balance. Needless to say I was scared shitless at that point, but soon enough the pain faded and everything seemed to go back to normal. I should mention I’d been under a world of stress at that point, both from work and from my new home, where my roommates seemed ready to kill each other. Add to that the increase in pot shots at me from my ex-wife, and it became a perfect storm in my head.

About a week later, I suddenly began to feel a tingling in my right hand. I thought it might have been an after-effect of too much typing/mousework that day (I work in IT/web design). However, the next morning found me in Emergency at one of Calgary’s hospitals. I’d lost most of the feeling in the entire right side of my body. I still had full motor control, but there was definitely something wrong with me.

I spent the day in the hospital, undergoing a CT scan, numerous blood tests, and even a spinal tap. In case you’re wondering, yes, a spinal tap is EXACTLY as painful as you’ve heard it to be…even with anesthetic and my apparent loss of sensation.

Since then, I’ve been back and forth to the hospital for consults with a neurologist. I’ve had an MRI, another CT scan, and was also in counseling for a time to see if my problems were manifestations of my home life. From all of this, it was concluded that I had what’s called a dissection of one of the blood vessels by my cerebellum. A clot from this dissection managed to strike a nerve, which caused my temporary lack of balance and my continuing numbness. They also found what’s called a pseud-aneurysm along the same blood vessel. This is a slight widening of the vessel, where clots can form due to lack of blood mobility in that area. They said mine was occluded, which means there’s no real danger there.

Since finding this out I’ve been doing all I can to get my blood pressure down to a normal level in order to help my body heal from all this. I’m back on my normal medication, and I’ve also been trying to move around more (walking, taking breaks from the computer, etc). It’s worked to some extent, I think. I’m still battling my weight as best I can, though it’s been a struggle.

On June 24 I’ll be heading to the hospital for a procedure known as a cerebral angiogram. Basically, they’re going to sick a needle in my leg, traverse a blood vessel leading to the back of my head, then shoot some tracer dye and take some high-resolution X-rays. This will be the final word in finding out what’s wrong with me, and if any treatment options exist. I find it ironic that in the age of the CT and MRI forms of diagnostics, my case has to rely on the oldest and still most accurate of diagnostic methods.

With all of this hanging over my head, it’s been a challenge to find the necessary quiet time to actually sit down and write. About the only time I did get was at the laundromat, which was a weekly trek when one of our main pipes in the house collapsed. When it rains, it pours, it seems.

I’m not trying to make excuses here…not looking for sympathy. I’ve been wrestling with telling you all this because I didn’t want it to sound like I’m whining or complaining. However, I feel as though I owe you all some kind of explanation as to the silence on my part. Those of you who’ve been so patient thus far I cannot properly thank you enough.

So, where from here? The writing is beginning to come back, though it’s a slow go at the moment. Chapter 20 is finished in a writing sense, but I want to hold off on recording it until Chapter 21 is finished. I can’t really give a definite date as to just when 20 will be released just yet, but I’m hoping for sooner rather than later.

Until then, you might want to check out a couple of other podcasts out there that I’ve been enjoying as of late. The first one is Alex White’s Gearheart stories, which you can find at http://www.thegearheart.com. The next is Tales from the Archives, an anthology of the steampunk world created by Tee Morris and Philippa Ballentyne. You can find it at http://www.ministryofpeculiaroccurrences.com

So until next time…thank you…and have a good one.

Happy Anniversary…Sorta

If you were to approach and ask 100 podcasters of ANY stripe (author, host, critic, etc.) to name 10 people who inspired them to get behind the microphone and take that plunge into podcasting, I’d bet one name in particular would be among the most common:

Tee Morris.

Admittedly for me, he was maybe number 4 in terms of people I’d heard of, behind JC Hutchins, Scott Sigler, and Mur Lafferty. I’m not sure why, but my first impressions of him were: upstart, arrogant, and full of himself. Of course, I can blame this early impression entirely on Mr. Sigler, who at the time was engaged in some kind of rivalry or something with him.

I’ve been a fan of Tee’s work ever since I first heard Morevi on Podiobooks.com. Since then I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword, Morevi Remastered, and have heard him on numerous podcasts since then.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because today, January 21st, 2011, marks the 6-year anniversary of when the first episode of Morevi: The Chronicles of Rafe and Askana aired on Podiobooks.com. Let’s face it…were it not for Tee taking that risk and diving into those uncharted waters, I’d wager very few of us would be here today. Hell, were it not for Morevi, I can name several newspaper-delivering weekends that would have been unbearable.

So Tee, from someone trying to make his mark in this brave new world, I raise my glass to you…trailblazer…pioneer…and inspiration to us all.

Happy anniversary…sorta.

Outcast – Episode 19

Well, after FAR too long, at long last here is episode 19 of ‘Outcast.’

As always, thanks to all of you who’ve held out and held on for me to get this done. To be honest, were it not for your feedback and encouragement, I would probably never have gotten off my butt and in front of that microphone.

IN THIS EPISODE:
A scare at the docks gives Dalan some inspiration to finally sit down and try to figure out just exactly why he was exiled, and uncovers what he believes to be the truth.

The question is, now that he knows…what can he do?

Episode 19

LINKS:
Contact email: outcastnovel@gmail.com
Blogs: https://outcastnovel.wordpress.com AND NOW: http://yo5.ca/outcast

End of Cycle for Sarcoma: http://www.angiosarcoma.org/
Shujin Tribble’s Flashback Newscast: http://fbnc.mevio.com/

State of the Podcast

So as you may know by now, given my relative silence as of late, things in the ‘Outcast’ world have been pretty chaotic. It’s a little difficult to get your writing groove on when everything around you seems to demand some kind of attention, or leaves you with such a bitter taste in your mouth that any kind of inspiration just goes PFFFT out the window.

Life’s been filled with several ups and downs for me, as well as I’ve moved yet again. Now, while part of me thinks it’s a step up in life, it also involves taking the contents of a 2,000 square foot basement suite and smooshing it all into a bedroom the size of a college dorm room. I’ve already downsized my bed (queen down to double), gotten rid of 3 desks and a stereo stand, and have even more paring down of my worldly possessions to do before I’ll be satisfied.

I’ve just recently dug my microphone and stand out of my half dozen or so as-yet packed boxes, and am working on setting up my recording ‘studio,’ as it were. I’d like to say that I’ll have something out soon, but it seems every time I say that I wind up being silent once more.

However, now that I’m slowly getting back into a kind of living routine, I do want to become a little less silent in the podosphere once more, be it either with more frequent blog entries, podcasts, and voice spots on other shows. I’ve realized that the only way I’m ever going to beat this whole thing is just to bear down and get it done.

That’s about all I can say for the moment. I’ll update you all when I know more.

The Podcasting Curse

Ok, anyone who wants to line up and take potshots at me for this one, please do so. Skeptics over on the right, right-wing conservatives over there, and everyone else form a third line right here.

All right…everyone comfortable? Good.

I’m not sure if I’m just the unluckiest S.O.B. when it comes to podcasting, or if there’s some kind of higher power out there determined to either silence me completely, or turn my desire to finish this project into a TV movie. The fact is, however, I think I’m cursed.

Those of you who know me know I once tried my hand at a general ‘rant’ based podcast called The Kick In the Cast a few years back. Any of you who remember some of the content of said podcast also know that I had a fair bit to complain about, from car troubles to my father dying, to numerous financial woes. What you might not know, though, is that each time I posted and episode, something bad usually happened in my life.

I thought that after the divorce and moving into a new place that I could finally be at peace with whatever demons seemed determined to keep my voice off the air. However, that wasn’t the case. Shortly after posting my latest episode, my work’s network crashed, and crashed hard. We lost a lot of data, and it’s been an expensive road to recovery since then. We’re stable now, but we’re not out of the woods yet.

I dunno…it just seems strange that every time I try to move this podcast along, something happens in my life not soon after that just saps all the energy from me. It’s almost like someone or something is punishing me for trying to succeed at this. I know it sounds corny, but I can’t help it.

This is not to say I’ve stopped writing, however. Chapter 19 is finished being written, and Chapter 20 is 2/3 done. When I’ve finished 20, I’ll be recording 19 for release (hopefully soon), and I’ll take my lumps as a result. If there is some spectre out there determined to make this a struggle, then I hope he/she/it is ready for a fight.

Ok…back to work.

Hello Outcasts. Just a quick update on things here.

First off, as usual, thank you all for your patience and continued support as I work towards the home stretch on ‘Outcast.’ I can finally see the end now…just a little further and it’ll be done. I’ve purposely been a little gun-shy about posting a new episode because it seems that every time I do, something bad happens to me. Yeah, I know it’s probably just a coincidence, but still.

Second, I’m feeling extremely stoked these days…and a little stupid like the title says. I’m stoked because Chris Lester, the creative mind behind the incredible Metamor City Podcast read a fan fiction story I’d sent into him some time ago. The submission was originally for a contest, and should have been read over the summer between seasons 1 and 2 of his podcast. However, as with all things, real life snuck up and well…you know how it is.

Anyway, I’m feeling a little stupid because here it is, April 21st, and I hadn’t updated my iPod for close to 2 weeks. Well, you can imagine my surprise when, as I’m scrolling through my MCP list on my iPod this morning, I see that ‘Rebirth,’ my submission, was on the feed.

Chris did an amazing job narrating the story, and while it felt a little odd hearing my words come from another voice, I still had one hell of a grin on my face for the entire bus trip to work today.

If you’re not already listening to Metamor City, you might want to check it out. It’s one of those full-blown produced shows with voice actors, music, effects, and a storyline that appeals to a wide variety of tastes.

So again, to Chris Lester I raise my glass in thanks and appreciation, and now…back to work.

Metamor City – Rebirth

Outcast – Episode 18

After a few starts and stops, and a few more ups and downs, Episode 18 of ‘Outcast’ is finally up and live.

However, you’ll probably notice that only the Mevio/Feedburner feed has been updated…not the Podiobooks.com one. There is a reason for this, and it’s because of me, not Evo.

There’s a certain level of expectation at PB from both those running it and those who subscribe to books on it. That expectation, because of numerous personal problems, is one I have not been nor will be able to meet. While my scheduled completion date of the book is still feasible, the completion of the recorded segments in an orderly fashion is not.

Therefore, I have decided to not ask Evo to lift the restriction on ‘Outcast’ at Podiobooks.com until such time as I have all the remaining audio recorded and ready to upload.

My apologies to any PB.com listeners who might feel left out. However, if you’d like there’s still the feedburner/Mevio podcast feed, which you can find at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/podshow/outcast

And, now that that’s out of the way, here’s episode 18:


IN THIS EPISODE:
Now absolved of his guilt over his recent rage attack, Dalan settles back into his life, only now with the knowledge that his best friend, Tomas, is spreading the word to his trusted friends about the tiger’s status as an exile.

Episode 18