The Holidays Approacheth

I can always tell when the holidays are getting close – my free time evaporates.

This year we hosted Alasdair’s parents for Thanksgiving, which was lovely. They don’t like cornbread, and do like pumpkin pie, which I consider a victory.

And then of course, there’s Dragon Age Inquisition. Which I’m trying very hard NOT to take up my every waking weekend hour. So far, so good, but I’ve still logged close to 30 hours since launch. More posts on that later. My current interaction with the game is … complicated.

While I struggle to balance household chores with saving Theda, enjoy this lovely Pat Cadigan story, “Cody”, which I narrated for Clarkesworld.

Last Big Push

As I lean in for final charge on the 2014 training contract application deadline, here’s a few projects and interesting cases I’ve been keeping an eye on these last couple of months. A more in-depth personal update once they’re done and before the (awesome) August convention marathon kicks off. Enjoy! (more…)

Grab Bag

Update: The Get Published interview is now live. Link below as well.

Five things makes a blog post! Well I’ve got more than five, so I win. Or something.

This Week In Geek Law

-Last week of classes starts tomorrow, and then just revision and elective exams to go. I can’t believe it’s almost over, and more so that I’m starting to feel sad it’s gone.

-And just in time for me to graduate, the SRA is considering changing all the rules about training contracts. So far this is just a report following consultation and there’s no detail about implementation or even a timeline. But hopefully they’ll address “sandwich” students like myself who’ve finished their education but are still subject to the traditional training model. Watch this space.

-Speaking of awesome law suits, look at this doozy: SpaceX wants in on the surveillance satellite tendering process. They’re running with an anti-competition position, claiming the Boeing-Lockheed joint project ULA was awarded the contract without tendering. It’ll be interesting to see if the Air Force pushes back with any security concern arguments.

-And finally, Comixology has pissed off it’s loyal app-using fan base by removing the ability for in-app purchases. It only impacts the Apple version at this point, leaving me to believe it may be a Amazon using it’s latest big ticket purchase to distance itself further from other distribution platforms. Not to mention Apple’s hefty 30% fee. Some independent comic creators have claimed to heard from Amazon the cost savings will be passed down the chain, but customers haven’t received the same. More annoying to your Friendly Neighborhood Comic Reader was the complete lack of transparency regarding the change taking place the very same weekend as C2E2, the Chicago-based E3 trial-run. Me, I’m sticking with my Nexus 7, thanks.

Audio

-After four weeks of hair-pulling Cast of Wonders is finally back up and updating. I’ve got a LOT of work to do reconstructing the missing back-catalog and support features. But it’s also an opportunity for a ground-up consistency pass, so mixed blessings and all that. First priority is getting this year’s Parsec-eligible stories up.

-I narrated the delightfully chilling Her Face All Sharp for Pseudopod. Tell me the story doesn’t put you in mind of Morrigan. I dare you.

-I was also interviewed on the delightful Get Published podcast about Cast of Wonders. The episode should be live in the next week or so, link to follow.

-And speaking of podcasts to follow, The Legal Geeks have asked me to appear on a show with them! I’m hoping the topic will be the current Charles Soule’s current legal-tastic She-Hulk run.

 Everything Else

-Thirty days and counting until the post-exams US trip. West Coast again this time, spread between Vegas, LA, Seattle and the Bay Area.We have long layovers in both New York and Chicago this time, so we’ve nicknamed the trip A Tale of Two Pizzas. Next year we’re aiming for the East Coast trip: a road trip from New York down to Florida with plenty of stops along the way.

-My summer dance card is full. Between placements and the US trip I’m booked until the end of July. Which will make job-hunting problematic, but when has having too much to do ever stopped me? Case in point: it’s 8 p.m. as I write this. I’ve been working solid since 8 a.m., and I’ve still got a lecture to review and a distribution agreement to critique. Y’all have met me, right?

-I now have a Marvel Movie playlist. The only place you’ll ever see Blue Swede opening for AC/DC and Blue Oyster Cult.

-Dragon Age. I’ve got the bug. Inquisition releases October 7th, which is convenient. I can spent Alasdair’s birthday with him before I crawl into my Thedas Cave, emerging only for sleep and sustenance. I rolled the dice and submitted an audition for their Take Your Place In The Inquisition contest because why not, right? Someone has to voice all those quest givers, and there’s no Bucket List item like voicing a Bioware character.

-In the meantime, there’s Bioshock: Burial at Sea and Shadowrun’s Berlin expansion to play while Alasdair finishes up Assassin’s Creed.

-Finally, I’ve discovered what my “English accent” is. It’s the inability to let participles dangle when I speak. Which sounds like it should be more fun than is implied. See! Like that! I sound like Professor Elemental, only Californian. Dude.

Published in: on April 27, 2014 at 20:29  Leave a Comment  

One Week And Counting

Back to school already, huh? Well, I can’t say the weather hasn’t telegraphed the change in season. I think it was literally beautiful one day, and gray and miserable the next. Ah well. We’re still having occasionally nice days, and I’m using them to get as much of the last of the yard work done as possible. We’re in decent shape, I’d just like to get the pile in the back finished off before the rain becomes unrelenting.

I wasn’t successful in securing a training contact this summer. Technically I have yet to hear back from one firm, but given how late it is in the recruiting cycle I think I’m unlikely to at all. Which is just plain rude, if you ask me. I know firms are being inundated by applicants, but how hard is it to send a mass “thanks but no thanks” acknowledgement? I do it with all of the Cast of Wonders submissions.

And speaking of which, take a look at this:

2013 Winner Badge
Cast of Wonders won its very first Parsec award! We’re so thrilled, Graeme even introduced our latest episode with the phrase “award winning”. I can’t wait for my statue to get here.

The Isle of Man / York trip was fantastic. We had beautiful weather, smooth crossings, and lots of time to catch up with family and friends. You couldn’t ask for more from a late summer vacation. ūüôā

Realizations

-Summer is nearly over, and I go back to school in a mere 22 days.

-As of Thursday, I’ll have lived in the UK a full year.

-I’ve narrated both Hugo and Parsec nominated short stories.

-Forget March coming in like a lion, autumn seems to be taking September out at the knees!

-This academic year I’ll be studying one form of mediation while teaching another.

-I’m about to restart aikido training. I’m nervous, but also excited, especially because I’ll have not only a partner put potentially classmates joining me as well.

-When you’re waiting for decisions that will dictate the direction and schedule of major life decisions for the next four years, six weeks is a very long, anxious period of time.

-Picnics help immensely.

-I can devour over 150,000 words of fiction in 36 hours. Yes, the Hunger Games were THAT good. Completely worth the “book hangover” the next morning.

-Next month I’m going to Batman’s house to watch a movie.

-I still owe the Mutherfudger a guest blog on Mexican food that doesn’t involve chili.

-Vacations always feel amazing because of the amount of work that not only precedes them, but goes into making sure you come back to a clean house. Wash All The Things!

-My life may be uncertain and less padded than I’d like, but I’m happy and in the end, that’s what matters most.

Parsecs!

Just a quick post today, it’s been an unexpectedly busy weekend for the best possible reason. “Now Cydonia” by Rick Kennett (and narrated by me!) is a Parsec finalist! Also on the short story, small cast list is the excellent “Kill Screen” by Chris Lewis Carter, which ran at¬†Pseudopod. Congratulations to all the finalists!

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Cast of Wonders also debuted the “Little Wonders” series this week, our new flash fiction and poetry pairings, hosted by yours truly.

Week One of my vacation scheme has been excellent – lots of work, lots of fun. Next week is an assessment day and one-on-one interview, followed by a weekend with friends and driving a tank. Then it’s finalizing the last of the training contract applications before diving back into the recording studio to finish up several ACX projects.

Summer is flying by – I can’t believe it’s already the end of July!

Procrastination

I’ve reached that part of the school year I always hate. Ninety percent of the work is done, and I can’t seem to muster any energy or enthusiasm for the remaining ten percent. There are still exams to take and coursework to finish and my research project to finalize, but the drive just ain’t there.

Maybe it’s my “the perfect is the enemy of the good” philosophy. Maybe it’s the fact it’s snowing on St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe it’s that I’ve booked airfare back to San Francisco for the end of next month and I’m counting the days.

There are a lot of things on my blogging list, but it’s clear devoting time to each one separately isn’t going to work with any degree of speed. So let’s return to my old friend, the bullet point.

Games

  • Finishing the¬†Mass Effect trilogy was emotionally rough but I’m very, very pleased with the ending. Green, for those of you in the know. It was the only logical choice.
  • The Mass Effect 3: Citadel DLC is the best one yet, and not just because Wrex uses The People’s Elbow on a flying car. It’s even better than Lair of the Shadow Broker. You know all that fantastic inter-character dialog you love so much? It’s four hours of that. Plus a mission that blows your socks off. Plus arcade games and a battle arena that will ALSO blow your socks off. It’s bittersweet and energetic and the perfect send-off.
  • Shepard is one tough lady. She’s literally gone through death and everything you can think of to save the galaxy. She never sheds a tear. Unless your romance option was Thane. And that was perhaps the most perfect moment of all.
  • After finishing Mass Effect I devoured Musaic Box, a fun music puzzle app Alasdair found me. I’m poking at the hard mode now as a palate cleanser between school work. I really, REALLY love the game and I hope they expand it in the future. I’d love to see fugues and rounds, for example, as well as more of the familiar classics they started with.
  • Now I’m playing the new Tomb Raider. Holy COW this is not your 90’s Lara. It’s very different stylistically, and is focused less on the story and more on how you play with interactive quick-time cinematics and weapon and skill customization.
  • Which is good; after having finished Mass Effect, another story-driven game would undoubtedly fail in comparison.
  • Now that I have the ability to use my climbing axe in combat, I’m much happier: having only ranged attacks isn’t my thing, especially when being rushed by a pack of wolves or a madman with a riot shield.

School

  • This next week is the last week before Spring (or Easter, as they call it here in a country without a phobia of associating seasons with religious holidays) Break. I have a single land lecture to go, and four more weeks of sessions, half of which are consolidation and mock exam question reviews.
  • I’m frustrated with coursework. My grades are trending down, and I can’t figure out why. I’ve got a meeting request in to my tutor to see if she can help me understand.
  • Part of it, I think, is the differences in US versus UK grading systems. Last coursework I made a bone-headed and probably time-pressure based mistake: I swapped two terms. In the States, that would be a one-time point deduction. Here in the UK, however, it functions as a mark CAP: there’s only so high a grade I can receive for having made this mistake. Frustrating, to say the least.
  • However, all my mock exam grades so far have been squarely in the Commendation and nearly Distinction category. Since exams are 70% of my grade — and none of my course work has been anywhere near failing — I’m trying to let it go and keep focused on the big picture. Finish strong, and keep moving.

Voice Work and Cast of Wonders

  • I’m incredibly happy with the quality of Cast of Wonders since taking over as editor at the beginning of the year. Graeme and Barry are a pleasure to work with, and we’ve run an amazing range of stories, with some of my favorites yet to come. The schedule is starting to solidify far enough in advance that we’re discussing Halloween and Christmas projects, and the turn-around time on submissions is staying under 30 days. Plus we’ve arranged narration swaps with some of the best names in fiction podcasting: The DrabbleCast (Norm Sherman), PodCastle (Dave Thompson), and Clarkesworld Magazine (Kate Baker) with I hope many more to come.
  • For my part, I’ve been behind the microphone again recently with “Mercurial Skin” and “Now Cydonia“. Plus I have my swap with Norm appearing shortly on The DrabbleCast.
  • And I’m planning to resume longer piece auditions with ACX this summer after exams.

Life In General

  • Snow. In March. *sigh*
  • The cooking apathy has passed at last. I spent all of Friday cleaning the kitchen and inventorying the pantry in a cathartic burst of energy, followed by baking two loaves of bread (rosemary ciabatta and banana) and making pizza for dinner.
  • Alasdair’s becoming quite the cook in his own right, and is picking up on my knack for re-purposing leftovers. We had some fantastic grilled turkey goujons (that’s tenders to us Americans) marinated in sage and olive oil served with leftover mushroom risotto. It made me think of Trader Joe’s amazing butternut squash ravioli. Sooooooon!!
  • I miss clothes dryers, and the feeling of warm, wrinkle-free sheets. I’m convinced England’s grumpy national character could be cured if people drank more water and had fresh-from-the-dryer clothes on a regular basis.
  • This weekend we’re going to a spring pops concert at the Royal Hall. Hurray for cheap student symphony tickets!
  • During Easter Break we’re having two visitors. Alasdair’s parents are coming down to visit for Ian’s birthday, and our friends Whit and Melissa are staying over a night with us on their trip through the UK and Portugal.
  • It’s hard being on a fixed budget, mentally more than physically. We don’t lack for any basics, but when I’m gloomy it’s impossible not to remember what having a six figure income was like. Gym memberships, weekend trips, disposable income. Anyone who makes big decisions struggles with them, and I’m no exception.
    But I wouldn’t change anything. Not even when it snows in March.

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“Once There Was A Hero…” by Jenny Moore

What happens when the daughter of a hero doesn’t want to live stories as much as tell them? Take a listen with “Once There Was A Hero…” by Jenny Moore, my latest narration now live at Cast of Wonders.

It’s fantastic to be narrating again now that I’m mostly settled in here in England. I can tell I was recovering from a cold when I read this story, but strangely I think the slightly strained quality to my voice only added to the tale. Plus it’s always great when I get to do funny voices, and Graeme’s “story voice” is a perfect compliment to the otherwise light and fun tone.

I hope you have as much fun listening as I did recording!

Published in: on November 2, 2012 at 10:38  Leave a Comment  
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“Movement” by Nancy Fulda

Late last year Mur Lafferty, the esteemed writer and host of EscapePod, got sick and lost her voice. She put out a call for help on Twitter to narrate a story on a tight deadline, and I volunteered.¬† The story is called “Movement”, written by Nancy Fulda, and is a short story about autism in the future.

I love this story. I have a cousin who is autistic, and I found a lot of familiarity in the tone she used to illustrate the differences in perspective and the frustrations of communication.¬† And I’m not the only one; the story is up for both a Nebula and a Hugo award this year.

Several weeks ago Nancy contacted me and asked me to narrate the story for an audio book version.¬† I was thrilled; I’d been auditioning for titles through ACX for several months and was it was such a treat to be sought out.

I’m pleased to announce the project is finished and now available at Audible and iTunes, as well as Amazon in both Kindle and hard copy versions.

Enjoy the story, and let me know what you think of my first audio book narration!

Published in: on July 24, 2012 at 20:17  Leave a Comment  
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“Finding the Blue Door” by L. Lambert Lawson

My latest narration for Cast of Wonders is now live with a fantastic piece of flash fiction about time traveling magic dwarves. Enjoy!