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Helping a Friend

Ok, I know I’ve ranted and raved about Second Life a lot on this blog, and some of you are probably getting tired of it. But, if you’re still reading this just hear me out this one last time, ok? I promise I’ll shut up about SL for a while after I’ve said this.

A few episodes back I made a plea to you to help out a friend of mine, whose wife died of a rare form of cancer several years ago. Alas, he fell short of the fundraising mark he’d set for himself, but not by much. However, undaunted as always he’s continued to fight, to raise awareness, and to inspire people to do their part in any way they can to help out.

Of course, people coming together to help fight something like this is by no means a new thing. When Joe Murphy passed away, and even before that, the podosphere was abuzz with calls to action for fundraising, spreading the word…everything social networking specializes in. The outpouring of support I witnessed as a result of that was nothing short of awe-inspiring…especially to one as new to the whole social media thing as I was back then.

Well, last night I bore witness to something so ambitious, I was left feeling humbled.

I was with a few friends on SL last night, and one of them had an announcement to make. Shujin (the man who lost his wife) was there as well, and the announcer revealed a fundraising plan so insanely large-scale that it was almost unbelievable.

The plan is simple enough: he created a small donation box (2 prims in size), and put out the call to every member of our little group (1300+ in all) to utilize their contacts to try and place these boxes all over the grid. The announcer set up a separate SL account to manage these donations so as to maintain the integrity of this charity drive.

But he hasn’t stopped there…oh no…

Every year, Shujin puts on an event in SL as a last-day fund-raiser for his charity (The End of Cycle for Sarcoma). These donation boxes will become active a few months before the event…basically when the Ride for Roswell starts accepting donations for the upcoming year. Well, along with the donation box comes another little present: A media box (I think that’s what they’re called). On the day of the event, this box will take over whatever audio stream is currently playing in the sim it’s in, and replace it with the stream coming from the fund-raising event itself. Someone generously donated a 1,000 listener Shoutcast stream specifically for this event.

Needless to say, Shujin was floored by all of this…as was I.

Even as we were listening to this announcement, land owners, club owners, and even a few mall owners were already making contact with the announcer, pledging their willingness to place one of these donation boxes on their land free of charge. As well, they’ve also pledged to talk up their contacts & friends to try and spread the word.

Based on such a huge amount of support so early into this, I’ve a feeling that by the time the event rolls around, Shujin’s team is gonna set a record for donations…all because of Second Life and the friends he’s made on it.

Not bad for a pixelated chatroom, wouldn’t you say?

A Productive Weekend

Hey all.

No, this isn’t an episode post just yet, though progress has certainly been made on the next episode/chapter of ‘Outcast.’ It’s amazing how much energy one can expend converting a few lines of outline text into a full-bodied chapter of content. Mind you it’s not a bad thing, writing oneself into exhaustion before calling it a night. I mean hey…keeps you honest, right?

However, being a geek and not a nerd, I do have a life away from the keyboard & screen. Granted, it’s not as lavishly outgoing as some people’s lives, but it’s enough for me. So, in between the fits and spurts of writing I got done this weekend, I headed to this one Irish pub (Tipperary’s) in NW Calgary to meet up with some of my fellow Calgary-based podcasters. It’s a monthly get-together where we sit down, have a couple of beers (yay for Transit), and either focus on a particular subject or just shoot the bull.

The event’s hosted by podcasting veteran Daryl Cognito, host of Atomic Suburbia. In truth, I’m shocked at just how many Calgary podcasters there are. Of course, I tend to move in different circles from a lot of them, so I really shouldn’t be surprised. Most of the podcasters I’ve met here are real entrepreneurs, always trying to find ways to ‘monetize’ their podcasting skills. I’m not sure if that’s the norm for other podcasting groups in other cities.

Thanks to the cold, this past meetup was little more than a social gathering with only a few people. We all talked shop for a bit, had a few drinks, and headed for home after a couple of hours. There wasn’t much to take away from the meetup, save a few laughs, a potential job lead (Thanks, Eric), and a gift from my new hair stylist (Thanks for that, Rachelle). I also got to pitch to everyone a new product my company’s working on, which could potentially re-shape how company boardrooms are used.

Anyway, after I got home and thawed out – gotta love those minus WTF kinds of days – I logged into SecondLife to zone out for a couple of hours. After going through a rather lengthy list of DJ’s announcing the starts of their respective runs, I came across a message that left me just tickled. Basically, it was an ‘Outcast’ fan who found me in-world, saying how much he loved the book and that if it ever gets published, he’s ready to purchase two copies.

This person and I chatted for a bit after that (turns out he was in-world too), and it kinda dawned on me that used properly, Second Life could almost be considered a form of social media. Granted, it’s not as portable and readily accessible as, say Twitter or Facebook, but the basic principle remains the same: You can connect with people with common interests over the Internet. Of course, when you think about it, just about any MMORPG could be considered the same thing. While in the game worlds you’re expected to fulfill a certain task or quest, you can still just sit back and chat with friends with no real pressure to do anything else.

This is now the 4th time since I’ve started writing/podcasting ‘Outcast’ that someone from Second Life has let me know they’re a fan of it. Maybe it’s because of my lack of so-called ‘normal’ feedback from things like email and voicemail, but for some reason I just feel special for getting that kind of ‘love’ for the book. I also know I’m not the first podcaster to take advantage of Second Life’s reach to promote a project. Hell, my avatar still wears an Ionath Krakens T-shirt more often than not. Still, it’s an interesting feeling, being able to interact with fans like that.

I also got my first voicemail feedback call on the new line. I’m a little hesitant to relay the details of it here, mostly because I want to save it until the next episode. As well, another podcast author sent me an email, happy that I’m back in the saddle again, so to speak. Ah tell y’all…ah kin feel the luv in this here room, bah gum.

Other than that, I managed to get some recording done for the QN podcast, and another project I’m working on, all while plugging away at my own project. A busy weekend, but damned if it wasn’t productive as all get out.

So, thanks to a slight technical problem, the infamous NARC line is no more. I let the K7 line slip for more than 30 days, so I had to re-register with K7 with a new number, since they don’t let you choose the number you want.

As a result, my new voice mail line is 206-339-1069…not as dramatic as the NARC line, but oh well. Guess now I have to make a new outro for future episodes…

FINALLY! Hm…I seem to be saying that a lot, don’t I?

Well, anyway, after far too long, here we are again with episode 17 of ‘Outcast.’

IN THIS EPISODE:
Still reeling from the alley attack, Dalan is plagued with the vision of nearly ending Daro’s life. As he tries to reconcile his guilt, Te’Ki fears his condition is a result of her story, and accuses him of lying to her that everything was all right.

In the rage that follows, Dalan realizes something is happening to him…something he was not warned about. This event only compounds his overall feeling of helplessness, and he heads off to his training session to get some answers…

No matter the cost…

Episode 17


Ok, now that you’ve had a chance to listen to the episode (or at least download it), I wanted to relate a story to all of you about something that happened to me recently. Don’t worry; it’s a good thing, trust me. 🙂

As some of you may know, I’m a bit of a SecondLife junkie. That being said I’m not like some of those WoWzers out there, determined to spend every millisecond of my free time in some other world, but I do have a few places I like to hang out and chat with friends at least once per week.

Anyway, one of the places I hang out at is a virtual nightclub, and I’ve gotten to know the DJ there fairly well. (Well, as much as you can get to know someone in a place like SL, anyway). He does a few hours at the club every Wednesday, and it’s not just him spinning tunes. There’s fake commercials, gags, flashback news segments…the guy really gets into his work and I think it makes him one of the best SL DJ’s around.

A while back he put out the call for some sound bites, and after getting myself settled in my new place I decided to send a couple his way. One was an intro for his flashback news segment, and the other was one of those ‘This is a test,’ EBS warning things. Needless to say he was overjoyed that someone actually wanted to help him.

So I was at the club a few weeks ago just hanging out, and the DJ decided to play the EBS warning message. I think I’ve said it before how much I can’t stand to listen to my own voice, so I was having a less than fun time while this thing was droning on and on…and on.

All of a sudden, in the chat window, I see the following line:
Hey…that’s the dude who does Outcast!

Ok, so by this time I’m a little more flattered. I mean the DJ and the club owners are fellow Outcasts, but to see this kind of line from another club regular was nothing short of a pleasant surprise. So, after a few moments I typed the following:
*sighs* Yep…guilty as charged.

A few more miscellaneous lines of text went by, then this showed up:
Dude…that’s YOU?

The DJ told me later he had a hard time not saying anything as the patron slowly made the connection.

It was kinda cool to see something like that happen in a place where I least expected it. I guess it goes to show that anywhere you show your face, virtual or otherwise, if you’re in the podcasting game, you might be recognized.

Outcast – Episode 16.5

WHEW!

After so long away, it feels good to be back, though being in front of the microphone for my OWN show feels a bit like using a muscle I haven’t used in a long time.

In here we have some more user feedback, a status update on me and the personal trials I’ve had to deal with over the past few months, as well as a couple of voice mails.

AND…we have a bonus musical track at the end for your enjoyment, as well as a plea from me to you to help a fellow podcaster realize his dream.

CONTACT:
email: outastnovel@gmail.com
Voice Mail: 206.600.NARC (6272)

LINKS:
Shane’s Art Sites:
http://www.einherjarstudio.blogspot.com/
http://shane-01.deviantart.com/

G. Howell’s Home Page (Thanks, Velan)
http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~howellg/stories/stories.html

7th Son
http://www.7thsonnovel.com/7th-son-book-1/

Episode 16.5

The Movie the People Made

My podcasting voice has been silent for quite some time owing to different things in my life, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still in the mix of it all. I keep up to date with some of my favourite podcasters and how they’re careers in this wonderful web 2.0 world are going.

One of those podcasters is a gentleman by the name of J.C. Hutchins. (http://www.jchutchins.net), someone whose rise to fame in both the podcasting and print world has been nothing short of meteoric. With a trilogy of podcast novels under his belt and a metric butt-load of PR leg work, JC’s put a lot of us other podcasters to shame WRT getting out there and promoting yourself.

But now he really…REALLY needs help, and no, I don’t mean in a they’re coming to take me away ha ha kind of way.

His first podcast novel, 7th Son: Descent, is set to be released in pulp on October 27, 2009. I, for one, intend to buy that book, as it was the first podcast novel I ever started listening to, and owe it to the guy to help him out. I mean hey, if ‘Outcast’ ever gets published, I can trace that right back to him.

But now here’s the twist and the meaning of this post’s title: Warner Brothers currently holds the option rights to turn 7th Son into a movie. Yeah, folks…it’s THAT…DAMNED…GOOD.

I follow JC on Twitter, and caught him saying that if he does a well enough job on the sales of Descent, it might get the gears going at WB to begin the production process. In short, more book sales = chance at a movie from WB that you actually might want to see.

How can we help? Simple: We’re the left side of the equation. It’s up to us to create that spark that’ll get the big boss bunny’s attention. From podcast to blockbuster movie…shit, this is UNPRECEDENTED, folks. This is history in the making and we can be a part of it.

I’m not forcing this; Descent’s not everyone’s cup of tea and I understand that. However, I’m gonna cast one hell of a net here and snag as many of you as I can. I’ve seen you guys pull together for people in the past, and I think we have the ability to give JC a hand.

So, if I haven’t lost you yet, here’s what I’m asking:

1. Listen to this promo:

2. If you’re interested in it, go to http://www.7thsonnovel.com/7th-son-book-1/ and either subscribe to the podcast or DL the episodes individually.

3. Give yourself the first 5 episodes to see if the book tickles your fancy.

4. If your fancy’s sufficiently tickled, email JC at 7thsonnovel[at]gmail.com and show him some love. Tell him Chris from Outcast sent you 😉

5. Re-post, link to, or re-tweet this journal entry to your followers to spread the diseas…er…message…yeah, that’s it…message 😛

6. On October 27 or any time thereafter, consider buying his book. Amazon’s listing it for $10.00 at the moment.

This is not for me. I’m making nothing off this except the satisfaction that I’m helping one of the podcasters who got me into this whole mess get some kind of reward for all his hard work. And hey, if it boosts my karma, then it’s a win-win.

Thanks for reading…

Settling Down

Ok, so yet another long time in between posts. I’m hoping that with this entry the frequency of posts here will increase substantially.

So, for those of you who’ve been following this little roller-coaster I call a life, you know that I’ve been going through the beginnings of a divorce, and for the past few months I’ve been living with family members. It’s been tough to live like that, especially after 10+ years of your life being a certain way. It was difficult trying to keep myself focused on things, as I was constantly bombarded with the after-effects of basically being kicked out of my home, dealing with loose ends, late bills (stuff I actually owed), and keeping up a strong work ethic at my job.

Well, I’m happy to say that things are finally settling down for me. On August 1st I drove up to my former home with a truck, loaded all my things into it and drove to my new place. Ok, so it took about 4 trips to get the majority of my stuff from one place to another, but the fact remains that now I’m 99% moved out of my old place. I say 99% because there are a few things we still need to deal with. It’ll come with time, and we’re both being as civil as we can about it. Thankfully there are no kids involved, and my new place doesn’t allow pets. Custody won’t be a problem.

One thing I have noticed, though, is something that I wasn’t able to really put my finger on until last night. See, I was goofing around in SecondLife and I was constantly having to tell myself ‘You don’t have to be anywhere…just relax. There’s nothing for you to do except sit here and enjoy yourself.’ I think one of my biggest problems as of late has been this feeling of constantly being rushed. You know; switch to a window, write/play for 2 minutes, then switch to something else…as if you’re trying to hide from the world what you’re doing. Doing that at work I can understand. Not too many supervisors feel comfortable with you taking a minute to relax your brain before diving headlong back into your work.

But when you get that feeling at home…it’s time to take a BIG step back.

I was on SL for over 3 hours straight, and only got up to refill my water. Other than that, I was focused on chatting with friends, listening to some great music, and just being there. It’s something I haven’t felt in a long time…relaxed…completely and utterly relaxed. I was actually able to lose myself in what I was doing, and didn’t come up for air until nearly midnight (which explains why I’m do dog-tired right now 😛 )

As I learn to relax more, I’m sure it’ll be reflected in my writing/podcasting. No longer bound by any real pressure, I’ll be able to open the floodgates of my imagination and finally turn that diminished spark of inspiration into the raging bonfire it used to be. Ok, that sounds hokey, but it’s true. I mean hey, the length of this blog post should tell you something about my recovery.

Anyway, with any luck the next episode will be up soon.

Until then…

Outcast – Episodes 15 and 16

Hello again, Outcasts and casual readers.

As you can easily tell from the previous post, things have been somewhat less than harmonious in my life as of late, which is why this entry is a bit of a double post. I’d completely neglected to talk about Episode 15 in this blog, and now that Episode 16 has been posted to both feeds, I figured I’d better get this place a little consistent.

So, here we go, the double post for Outcast, Episodes 15 and 16

In Episode 15:
Cornered in an alleyway by a group of unknown assailants, Dalan and Te’Ki are forced to see each other in new lights. For Dalan, he will see a part of Te’Ki’s shadowy past, while for her…she will catch a glimpse of what Dalan is destined to become…

And it terrifies her…

LINKS:
Email: outcastnovel@gmail.com
Show Site: http://outcastnovel.mevio.com AND http://www.podiobooks.com/title/outcast
Voice Mail Line: 206-600-NARC (6272)
Anthropomorphic Dreams Podcast: http://anthrodreams.libsyn.com AND http://www.anthrodreams.com
Episode 15

In Episode 16:
Having escaped the alleyway, Dalan and Te’Ki return home. Unable to keep it a secret any longer, Te’Ki finally tells her real story about how she came to Shonto…and what part Daro played in her life…

LINKS:
Email: outcastnovel@gmail.com
Show Site: http://outcastnovel.mevio.com AND http://www.podiobooks.com/title/outcast
Voice Mail Line: 206-600-NARC (6272)
JC Hutchins’ Site: http://www.jchutchins.net
Personal Effects: Dark Art: http://www.darkartnovel.com
Arlene Radasky’s Site: http://www.radasky.com
The Fox: http://podiobooks.com/title/the-fox
Episode 16

Time to Come Clean…

I think it’s time I cleared the air here and let all of you know why things have been so silent on my end from a podcasting perspective. It’s the least I can do for those of you who’ve taken the time out of your lives to give my stuff a listen and ask for more. More is coming, but it may take a bit more time.

Here’s why: I’m getting a divorce.

For the past two months, my wife and I have been separated. I’ve been living at my sister’s place, trying to cope with the sudden downward spiral my life has taken. It’s worked to some extent, but I still sleep alone, in a strange bed on the other side of the city from what I’m used to.

We had talked about couple’s counseling, and I was more than willing to give it a shot. However, she wants no part of it and no part of me anymore. So, I guess it’s all over now except to start the paperwork, make arrangements for the common debt payments we need to make, and move on in life.

About the only wrinkle is my sister need the room I’m staying in for July, so I’m basically homeless. The wife’s offered to let me stay at our place until I can find somewhere, and I probably will for a few weeks until I can find a place I can afford. I was barely scraping by before; wherever I end up, it ain’t gonna be that big.

I’m also looking for work so I can afford to live alone a bit more comfortably. I’ve got a few leads out there, as well as some part-time stuff lined up. It might not be much to start with, but it’s a start.

We both want a clean break from each other. No drama, no arguments, and thankfully no kids. When I have a place of my own I’ll just grab what’s mine, what of ours I wish to take, and leave her behind. It’ll be hard to say good-bye after so long together, but being stuck in a loveless marriage is harder, I think.

So, like I’ve always said, thank you for your continued support and your well-wishes. If/When this thing ever gets done I’ll have to find some way to express my eternal gratitude for your patience and understanding through what’s quickly becoming the most painful time of my life.

Until next time…

Let’s face it: Life can, and often does, stink.

I mean some days it feels like no matter how hard you try, or how much effort you put into something, there’s always a surprise waiting to either bean you with a reality snowball, or give you one of those life-wedgies that makes you wonder why you even try in the first place.

I’ve been living proof of this for close to 2 years now, and let me tell you it’s not fun. From financial headaches, to growing tensions at home, to now living with my sister as my wife and I try to sort some things out, I have been and am still going through a personal hell as of late. With the combined pressure from work and home, quite truthfully I’m amazed I’ve stayed sane as long as I have.

I’m not saying my situation is unique by any stretch. I imagine a lot of people go through this kind of shit on a regular basis, and deal with it in their own ways. What maybe puts a spin on my life is the fact that on top of all this I’m trying to carve out a space in the New Media sphere as well, which if you’re going to do it right, you have to make a commitment to it. Be it time, money, or whatever, if you want to run in the podosphere, you have to contribute.

Over the past 13 months I’ve had to work two jobs, both of which were extremely demanding. I’ve torn down our company’s website twice and put it back up, I’ve delivered over 100,000 newspapers in that amount of time, and I’ve pushed my pressure coping abilities beyond any semblance of a normal limit. I’ve seen sides of myself in the past year that I never knew I had, and in retrospect wish I’d never seen.

So you can imagine my initial reaction to a comment made by a listener to my novel when they say that unless there’s an update soon, they’ll have to unsubscribe to it.

Incensed? Sure…at first. I’ve never been one to take threats well, no matter how sublime or severe they might be. Now, of course this comment could have been made in fun…maybe with a dash of sarcasm thrown in as an attempt at a general nudge to get me off my butt. If so, then I waaaaaaaaaaaay over-reacted initially to it, but it does bring up a valid point: Should we take it so personally when someone unsubscribes?

Years ago, Scott Sigler’s podcast novel ‘Infection’ (the predecessor to ‘Infected’) sparked a bit of controversy from one of its listeners. In one scene, Perry Dawsey (the main character) threatened to hurt a woman. After that episode aired, one listener emailed Scott and said she was un-subscribing from the novel because of the misogynistic tone the book now had.

Now, to Scott’s credit, he reacted fairly well, stating that yes, his book wasn’t for everyone, and he wouldn’t harsh anyone for unsubscribing. I mean hey, it’s the person’s choice to subscribe or not. Still, I can only imagine the initial reaction.

I’ve looked at my Podiobooks stats off and on since putting ‘Outcast’ up on there, and while the numbers of subscribers have been increasing, so have the numbers of folks who’ve unsubscribed. Granted, the ratio still greatly favours the subscriber side, and for that I’m eternally grateful. 99% of the feedback I’ve been getting has been more than encouraging, and a real beacon to me in this rather chaotic sea I’ve been sailing in as of late.

I know mine’s not the only podcast to have people unsubscribe. People with infinitely more talent and a larger listener base must see fluctuations in their numbers that would make my eyes bug out of my head. I guess you need to have somewhat of a thick skin in the world of web 2.0, because not everyone’s going to necessarily ‘like’ you, and some may even drop your podcast due to disinterest or prolonged periods of silence.

I guess all you can really do is shrug your shoulders, look at your calendar, and move on. Unless it’s your main source of income, podcasting / web 2.0 work is little more than a hobby, and should really only be fostered when you have time and energy to spare. Should things come up along the way, they need to take priority and as much as it may hurt, you have to shelf your hobby until you’ve dealt with everything else.

If your hobby involves interacting with an audience via the Net, then the most you can do is ask for their understanding that there might be delays in content delivery because of life’s little curve-balls. I mean hey, for a while Tee Morris when nearly dark during his re-doing of Morevi for one reason or another…and his book was already written!

So, in conclusion, I guess I’ve answered my own question. Should I take it personally when someone tells me they’re unsubscribing? No. Just shrug your shoulders, brush it off, and get back to living. It’s all you can do.