Honorable Mention!

Writers of the Future is a big-ass writing competition, and it’s pretty prestigious to win. I did not win. It’s also cool to almost win, as you still get your work published in a book that people actually read.

I also was not a runner up.

But I did get an honorable mention. Honestly I don’t know how difficult that is; I’ve entered twice and been honored both times. My guess is that it means “good enough to encourage the writer to enter again.” I will be doing so. Several of my eligible stories fit the WotF style pretty well. My careful reading of the rules tells me that stories published over at Piker Press are eligible, so if you remember a favorite from back in the days when I was a regular there, let me know!

On a side note, I think I’m going to play with a short story during my company’s holiday shutdown.

1

Moonlight Sonata

A stranger in a Prague café brings a message from a dead Bluesman.

[podcast]

I’m getting the hang of this podcast thing, I think. Despite the fact this is a longer story the recording and editing went quickly. Cowboy Bob’s voice softens over the course of the reading, reflecting that my voice was getting a little tired, but other than that I’m pretty pleased with the results.

Naturally there are a few lines I think I could have done better, but my reading was helped by the fact that a couple of years ago I coached someone else through the words, and realized that Bob speaks staccato, while the narrator likes to roll with long vowels. I cleaned up the language just a touch, as I’m not sure just where “the line” is at the iTunes store.

Recently I linked to a fellow blogger’s post about the life cycle of blogs; I can see the same tendencies for podcasts. This is my fourth episode, and, well, according to the numbers from PowerPress (the plugin that simplifies publishing to iTunes), the popularity of the series is trending, if at all, downwards. Taking a two-month break didn’t help anything, I’m sure, but I think my expectations may have been a touch on the unrealistic side. So, more work than expected to produce plus no instant celebrity probably kills a lot of podcasts early in their careers.

Then I remind myself that I have a blog which I spend too much time coding on and hasn’t earned me any recognition either, even after nearly a decade, and I’m still plugging away here. Um… wait, was that supposed to be encouraging?

3

Earthchuckle

Episode two takes a more serious turn, with a story of friendship and life, and the end of one but not the other.

[podcast]

So, I set up to record the thing, and I thought this episode wouldn’t take as much time to put together since I already had my template set up. I recorded the story and it went smoothly. I assembled the takes and got it all paced correctly. Then I put it into the template from last time and discovered that, despite using the same room and the same microphone, it sounded totally different. I tweaked some settings and tried again. Still totally different. “Must be the proximity effect,” I thought, and recoded again, with the mic closer to my mouth. Nope. Still different.

I think the difference might be the way I connected the mic to the computer (through a USB adapter the first time, straight in the second). I tried replicating the effect using software, but I wasn’t terribly successful.

Still, once you get past the sudden change in acoustic quality, the story does all right.

2

Hell-Cricket

This is the first in a series of podcasts in which I read some of my favorite stories from the past. I’m starting off on a lighter note with Hell-Cricket. Enjoy!

[podcast]

I learned quite a bit as I put together all the bits to make a polished and fun podcast, and I still have a lot to learn. Subsequent stories should be easier, as I get all the intro and outro stuff figured out, and the mechanics of publishing squared away.

I still have some tweaking to do; if you have any technical difficulties or suggestions in general, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

4

On the Cover at Piker Press

My short story “The Tourist” is on the cover of the Christmas issue over at Piker Press. The story takes place in the world first started with my story “Tin Can“, which appeared over there some time back. Depending on how you count things, this is either the fifth or seventh entry in the series. (There are a couple of stories that take place in the asteroid belt that have a similar voice but which aren’t — yet — connected in any concrete manner.)

Hats off as well to Sand Pilarski for an illustration that really fits the piece. It’s simple, but it really works for me.

I just reread the story, and while I like it quite a lot, there are a couple of places when I needed to pause for a moment, to allow the reader to react before being swept away in the ensuing events. One of those is the second paragraph. I may ask the Piker editors if I can sneak in another sentence there. There are also a couple of sentences I worked really hard on, that present pretty complex ideas, that get a little lost. (How many times did I go over the story? A hundred? I suppose there will always be something that could be made a little bit better.) Overall, though, it’s a not a bad read, if I do say so myself.

This also marks the third anniversary of my Piker Press debut, the story “The Cowboy God” which was on the cover of the Christmas issue in 2004. That debut was a big deal for me, my first real publication. I was in Moravia at the time, unable to get online, and I was going nearly crazy trying to make sure everything had come out right. A lot has happened in the last three years, and I will be forever grateful to the ongoing support of my fellow Pikers.

So Happy Jerry’s Piker Debut Day, or any other holiday you may wish to celebrate today.

Addendum: Thanks to the Piker Press staff for incorporating my edits, not just once, but twice. The story is better now in ways quite possibly visible only to me. Although there is that one missing comma…

Programming Note

Here it is Sunday already and I haven’t mentioned that my sister, Carol Anne Byrnes, is on the cover over at Piker Press this week. Check it out!

Should have mentioned that I’m on the cover at Piker Press this week.

The story is somewhat experimental in style, with large parts relying on dialog completely to paint the picture of what’s going on. It’s riskiest during the first section when there are three people talking an I rely on their unique voices to inform the reader who is speaking. I’m not sure it comes off with complete success, I suspect I would have made things easier by at least tipping readers off that there are three people there. With that hint I think the rest would have flown all right.

In any case, it’s a pretty silly story, but it has some interesting folks in it, a couple of nice twists, and heck, how can you go wrong when there are zombies? I only regret that someone else has already done zombie ninjas – although the door is still open for zombie ninjas to battle zombie pirates.

Hang on a sec, I’ve got a quick story to write.