sunflowers
books, Peace Love and You Know What, Professor Groovy, Writing

I Say Uncle

I am not a quitter. One of my favorite quotes is “Perseverance furthers” from the I Ching. But I finally found a fight no longer worth my time: creating an audio book.

For this project, I chose Professor Groovy and Other Stories, a collection of four short pieces. These stories predate my novel Peace, Love, and You Know What. Prof Groovy has only 10,000 words. Peace etc. has eight times that amount. A piece of cake, right? Uh, no.

I enjoyed a bit of pride learning the Garage Band program on my Mac and getting the settings down. I turned my office into a humble studio using every darn piece of foam in the house. I learned to breathe and read in a pleasant narrative. I figured out how to edit the tracks.

But, alas, no matter my effort, I felt strongly the audio tracks weren’t good enough to sell. I am not a professional, and it showed.

And, worse, I was spending too much time fixing audio tracks and not writing. I don’t even want to guess at the amount of hours spent on this project.

But I will make myself feel better and say I didn’t give up easily. I tried, I really did.

I haven’t given up on the idea that my published books, now and in the future, will also be audio books. But my new cosmic plan is to attract enough bread so I can hire someone who knows what the heck they are doing.

So what have I been doing besides feeling relieved? Writing-wise, I’ve started a new novel, this one a mystery set in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts, where I once lived. I like where it’s going.

Also, I’ve started the last copyediting go-through for The Sweet Spot, the next novel I will be publishing later this fall. That one is set in Western Massachusetts, too, but in 1978. A lot more on that in the near future.

Finally, another new project: a bilingual novel for adult students taking ESL. I had a wonderful experience visiting the class of Teresa, my friend and collaborator. That experience deserves a separate post.

So I’m an audio book failure. No regrets, however, as I have other creative things to do.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: Summer hangs on a bit.

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mexican hat
audio, books, Professor Groovy, Writing

If At First

Heck, you can fill in the rest of that quote. I am also a big fan of ‘perseverance furthers” from the I Ching. Yes, I will stick with something until I get it done, whether it is digging a ditch, writing or publishing. My aim is for a successful conclusion. That is especially true these days.

I wrote a little while back about trying to record an audio book for Professor Groovy and Other Stories. The editing was a killer. Even so, I didn’t like the end result. So, I pulled apart my office-turned-studio and took a weeklong break. In the meantime, I did more research about breathing (yeah, you gotta breathe, but just do it naturally) and other related stuff like drinking Throat Coat Tea beforehand. It’s amazing what is available on blogs and YouTube.

As for GarageBand, I found the settings I need via the very helpful Rob Dircks, who wrote Where the Heck is Tesla. I’ve never met the guy, but he’s very generous with his help. Find info in the blog section of his website Gold Finch Publishing

Then, Friday night, I brought every piece of foam (like the seats from the couch), pillows and blankets we have into the office. Now, it looks like the bedroom some of my kids had when they were teenagers. Ah, but there’s no echo.

Saturday morning I was ready to roll. I set up tracks with the right settings. I did a few practice runs. I did better on the breathing so I didn’t sound like I was gasping at the start of each sentence. A couple of the tracks came out great, the others, not so great. I checked and found the problems in the settings.

So, on Sunday — I told you I’m persistent — I did new recordings and redid the unsatisfactory ones from the day before. I haven’t started the editing yet, but I can tell after listening, this will be a breeze compared to the first time I tried this.

And this round, I not only found I could read longer, I had done this so many times, I could recite parts of the short stories by heart, especially the start of Professor Groovy. “The sixties came just in time for Professor Edward Burke, who was meandering through middle age while everyone around him was fresh and young… ”

What else is a do-over these days? A Kindle Countdown. I tried one in May for Peace, Love, and You Know What, but got the dates mixed up so I wasn’t doing promotion until the end. Well, that was a waste, but a lesson learned.

But guess what? Another Kindle Countdown starts Wednesday, Aug. 24. The digital form of my 80,000-word novel goes on sale for 99 cents for two days — the same price as the Kindle version of Professor Groovy and Other Stories. Then, the price bumps up a buck in increments until it’s back to its normal price of $4.99 on Aug. 31. Here’s the link: Peace, Love, and You Know What

No, I don’t make a lot of money on this. But my goal is to attract readers.

Thirdly, an update on another do-over: reading my novel The Sweet Spot backwards. It is slower-going than reading it forwards, but I highly recommend it. I find that I concentrate simply on the words in that paragraph and not the plot. I am pleased at what I’ve found so far, not a lot of changes, but significant ones.

Lastly, another reading of Peace, Love, and You Know What is in the works for Sept. 17 at Brodsky Bookshop in Taos. My friend Andrew is playing The Beatles on his bassoon and, yes, there will be brownies. More later …

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: I snapped this shot of Mexican hat flowers growing in the front yard. They grow wild here.

 

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desk
audio, Professor Groovy

Just For The Record

Where have I been the past week? Holed up in my office-turned-recording-studio to create my first audio book — Professor Groovy and Other Stories. How am I doing? I’m getting very close to the end.

Recording Professor Groovy has been time-consuming, especially the editing part. Hence, no posts and only minimal activity on Facebook, except to see what my digital friends are up to and to signify likes, happy birthdays, plus encouragement ProfGroovy_Coverwhen needed. I have been out of the house on errands, my neighbor’s birthday party, and a friend’s house. (I brought my computer so she could hear what I’m doing.) I do try to take walks and spend some time in the vegetable garden.

My office studio remains awash in foam. The curtains are drawn. The windows are shut. The door is shut too so the cat doesn’t jump on stuff although she is allowed inside during the editing process.

As for equipment, I have the book on my iPad so I don’t have to rustle paper. The microphone has a pop filter and a cord leading to my computer. I do have to take breaks when the hot water heater on the other side of the wall fires up. But other than that, it’s a workable environment.

This has been a learning experience, recording and editing on GarageBand. I downloaded the newest version, used the recommended settings, and had a go. There were lots of practice sessions and false starts.

When I record, I stand in front of the microphone. I drink a lot of water at room temperature. I gargle with mouthwash. I avoid certain foods like dairy before recording. Still … I never thought I was a person with a mouth full of spit but there it was. Once I read to hold off drinking coffee before a recording because it is dehydrating. Well, that didn’t work. Besides I am not an opera singer.

(Meanwhile, I read a story in the New York Times that audio books are hot. Okay!)

I started with the shortest story — Ripple in the Jungle — then worked my way up in length.

That is the fastest part. The longest is editing out all the gulps, gaps, and booboos. I learned how to cut out the lousy sections and leave an appropriate amount of space between each. Luckily the internet offers lots of useful info. (Thanks especially to Rob Dircks.)

I listened to the stories this afternoon. Three sound great. Alas, Professor Groovy needs to be re-recorded. I’ve tried and tried to fix things, but I have come to the realization it’s time to cut my losses and make a do-over. It just doesn’t have the same quality. Don’t ask me why. I am still new to this.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: My desk set up for recording.

LINK: Thanks to those who have read my books. Here are links to Amazon.

Peace, Love and You Know What

Professor Groovy And Other Stories

 

 

 

 

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squash
Professor Groovy, short stories, Writing

A Change of Heart

It’s healthy to be flexible. For me that means letting go of ideas and sometimes, possessions.

First, I am happy, thrilled really, that four short stories that have been languishing in my computer were published this week on Kindle this week via Professor ProfGroovy_CoverGroovy and Other Stories. Versions of two did appear in magazines, but I want the greater world to read them.

Being new to this type of publishing, I struggled with pricing. Really, what is something you write worth? Do you devalue it by selling it cheaply? But, hey, I am not a household name.

So I dropped the original price from $1.99 to 99 cents in a matter of hours. My royalty on each book will be about 35 cents. Why settle for so cheap? Well, the four-story collection is only 10,000 words. And I have an ulterior motive. This book is bait for the novel Peace, Love, and You Know What.

Then, there is my office. I am in one of those clean and purge moods. Friday night I took everything out of the office that I could — the living room looked like a bomb hit it — and then washed, waxed (furniture and the floor) and sorted as needed. I did windows. I will admit I went a bit nuts.

And I took a good, hard look at the books in that room. Several I bought in a whim in a secondhand bookstore or online. I thought I liked the authors. But did I love them anymore? Not enough to hold onto their books. They’re in a bag to donate.

There was other stuff set aside for the recycling center and drop-off boxes.

I finally finished Saturday evening.

My friend Teresa emailed me: “We call that a “ranfla moñuda” sort of spring cleaning, very inclusive… out with everything that is not useful anymore! Very good to move energy and shake things up.”

Move energy and shake things up: I like that idea very much.

LINKS: If you are so moved, here are the links for my books: Professor Groovy and Other Stories and Peace, Love, and You Know What

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: That’s one of the robust zucchini plants in my garden.

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