Posts Tagged ‘podcasts’

Welp

Well, squiders, I’m still not done with Uglies. I thought this would be fairly easy since it’s YA and not terribly long, but sometimes with YA I just don’t connect to the main character very well and then it slows everything down.

Or it could just be a sign of my general state of mind. Who knows! Making progress now, though, so soon.

I’ve also finally made some progress on working on World’s Edge as well. Not much, not what I was hoping for, but sometimes, taking that first step, especially after you haven’t worked on a draft in a while, is the hardest.

I’ve set a goal of 25,000 words on it for Camp starting tomorrow.

Camp Nanowrimo has always been very hit or miss for me. It doesn’t carry the same creative energy that sweeps through a normal Nano. There’s not the in-person stuff, and it’s not as many people. Plus the cabin set-up makes it so you really only have a few people that it’s easy to regularly interact with.

So my Camp history is very spotty. Generally I manage about 10,000 words, no matter what my goal is or what I’m working on. Sometimes I don’t do anything at all, and sometimes I manage 25,000 or more.

I think I can manage 25,000, but I do need to put some sort of schedule into place. I know from experience that if I try to just get to it eventually sometime in the day, it doesn’t happen.

In other news, I’m still playing podcast catch-up. I got a little burnt out on Myths and Legends–turns out 100 episodes of something, when you’re listening to several episodes a week, gets old–so I’m working on some of the other ones that weren’t quite as far behind.

I’m going to talk about two here–Start With This and Inn Between.

Start With This is by the Night Vale creators, talking about creativity and writing. It’s geared toward making your own podcast, but a lot of their tips are general to story telling in general. And it’s nice, just going back over things, as well as learning things that are not necessarily useful for prose but are interesting nevertheless. Knowledge! It is beautiful. And it helps to know that they, too, have issues with anxiety and periods where creating is hard.

Inn Between is a fantasy podcast that takes place at the inn in between adventures. So you don’t hear the adventures so much (unless they follow the characters into the inn) but it’s a really interesting look at character dynamics and a neat twist on the genre. I’m a little behind (at the end of what came out in 2020) and apparently we’re getting new characters for season 3, which makes me a bit sad because I’m very attached to the original characters now.

Well, that’s me! Off to make plans for success, and I shall see you all on Friday. Maybe with a book for discussion! We shall see.

Media Round-Up Time

My Among Us group has started another tournament and I, like an idiot who doesn’t like to be productive, signed up for it. First match was Monday on my worst map, and I got more points than last tournament and came in third, though the points were pretty low in general.

I’m still waiting on Book One feedback so not much getting done in that department. I’ve started a new SkillShare class, which is on outlining, though I haven’t gotten terribly far. Just having really terrible focus in general lately, no clue why.

So let’s talk about what I’ve been doing other than writing!

Reading

Over Christmas I made the mistake of getting a bunch of short story collections out from the library. I always take forever to get through them, because I like to pause after each story and think on it, which means sometimes I’m only reading ten or so pages in a day. I’m mostly through them, though I still have two (a mystery one and a scifi/fantasy one) that I’m working through.

I read Ready Player Two which was…ehhh, all right? I guess? It had too much of the worst parts of Ready Player One and not enough of the good parts, and the emotional arc was just…bizarre. Also I have problems with the way some characters just forgot all interpersonal problems mid story. I honestly don’t know that I would recommend it.

Now I’m reading The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, which so far is amazing. I’m only like 40 pages in, but I’m definitely digging it.

Podcasts

I’m continuing my slog through the Myths and Legends podcast backlog (less than two years behind now!) which has proved to make me invaluable to my trivia team when it comes to mythology, but because I’ve made such good progress, I’m starting to occasionally mix in an episode of Start With This, which is a creative podcast run by the creators of Welcome to Night Vale. While the episodes are geared a bit toward podcasting, they do talk about writing as a whole.

(The latest episode I’m listening to is again making me wonder if it’s worth it to bother finishing the Changeling story. But that’s a decision for another time.)

Maybe I’ll start mixing in Night Vale or Inn Between again soon too, who knows!

TV and Movies

We’re so bad at watching things in this house. I hate sitting and paying attention to something for a long period of time. I am, however, considering starting to watch Leverage, which seems like it might be fun.

My spouse and I watched Parasite last week, which was not as much horror as I was led to believe, but still did give me a few nightmares.

Video Games

Yesterday I finished an adventure horror game called Oxenfree, which was very fun! (And I think I got it for, like, $3.) The animation is pretty simple but it was still quite scary in places, and the story was neat. And the mechanics! As opposed to a standard adventure game where you have to gather a bunch of stuff to solve the puzzles, all you have is a radio. I’d definitely recommend it.

My spouse and I recently finished the newer King’s Quest game (which is a more traditional adventure game, in the spirit of the series), though it was interesting in that each episode had a significant time skip in between and differing story telling.

He’s on to Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider now. Not sure what I’m going to do. I did get Lego Harry Potter for Christmas, so maybe that.

And, of course, still Among Us. We’re starting to discuss trying out some of the newer mods, such as Sheriff, which give out more roles than just Imposter. Plus, you know, tournament and whatnot, and in theory the new map is due soon.

What have you been up to lately, squiders? Anything that you really enjoyed?

Berries and Elephants

Information comes from the weirdest places sometimes, doesn’t it?

Holly Lisle, who is one of my favorite writing teachers (and if you’re looking for writing classes, feel free to check hers out in my affiliate link above), has a saying about berries and elephants. I’m going to massacre it here, but the gist is that how much a writer should know about their world is the size of an elephant, but you don’t stick that elephant in the story, oh no. You only put in a berry here, and a berry here, and only what’s applicable to the story at hand.

(I think it was Holly Lisle. My memory is shoddy.)

I’m working on my changeling story again this month, though admittedly not going anywhere fast due to the same issues as last month, as well as, you know, having construction done on my house and not actually being there most of the time. (It is running twice as long as predicted. But soon, hopefully.) And while the story itself is moving okay, I can already tell that the worldbuilding is going to need some streamlining and fleshing out in revision.

Faerie lore is vast and contradictory, so I’m making do the best I can. Also, you know, trying not to have it feel like a generic faerie story. As such, I’m spending more time actively researching during writing, which is not my favorite thing to do. And I’m not sure it’s helping, since the Internet sources I tend to turn up are about the tiny little winged fairies you can attract to your gardens and whatnot and not the Faerie of mythology.

Now, because I’m doing a lot more driving (due to not being as close to my normal haunts as usual) I’ve been catching up on my podcasts, or attempting to, anyway. First I caught up on Limetown, which only has twelve episodes or something like that. One of my creepy mystery ones. I guess they wrote a novel, but I read the excerpt and Lord, it was awful. I couldn’t even get through it. I suspect it’s because the sort of telling you do in a fake investigative podcast doesn’t cross over so well.

(Which is the reason I always listen to the Welcome to Night Vale novels rather than read them. Maybe they’re fine to be read. But they sound like Night Vale episodes, so it makes the most sense to me to just listen to them.)

Then I caught up with Tanis, which I like but which also frustrates me. It’s designed to draw you in, but there are so many plot points that seem important that then just disappear. I’m not sure there’s an actual planned story arc so much as just throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the plot and seeing what sticks. I guess a new season is coming out soon, but it hasn’t yet, so huzzah, I’ll take it while I can.

Night Vale I’m not listening to because I’m most of the way through It Devours! which is their second novel. (Audiobook version, as discussed above.) That seems like it would be confusing.

So the podcast I am listening to while I’m driving about is Myths and Legends. (Sometimes I listen to It Devours! but there’s also a lot of cussing and the small, mobile ones are often with me, so sometimes it’s best to…not.) I like it because it draws on numerous mythologies and also because I like the guy telling the stories. Anyway, the last episode I listened to was the original version of Beauty and the Beast, which, as opposed to being an oral folktale, was a story written in 1740.

Apparently the original is much longer and stranger than the condensed version (which came out in 1756). I’ve been scanning through it because Myths and Legends guy said that there were 20 pages (out of a 100-page story) about Faerie politics.

Said narrator was obviously not into said 20 pages of Faerie politics, but it sounds like it might be a good resource for me. I have found the Faerie politics, but thus far haven’t learned much. But hey! Still have ten pages to go.

I just thought it was funny that potentially-helpful Faerie politics showed up, in all things, in a podcast about the original version of Beauty and the Beast.

I also saw a neat thing on Writer Unboxed about using a setting mindmap to drive potential plot points. Might give that a try too.

How are you, squider? I hope to back in my house by the end of the week at the latest (but then, you know, I have to put the house back together, so it’ll probably be Monday before things are functional again).

What Order Do You Listen to Your Podcasts in?

I mean, I suppose it’s possible that you are caught up on all the podcasts you listen to and then it doesn’t matter.

(How? I was only listening to one and I still got three years behind.)

For those of you paying attention, here are the current podcasts, and the years they’ve operated (and where I am in them):

  • Welcome to Night Vale (2012 to Present, currently in 2017)
  • The Once and Future Nerd (2013 to Present, currently in 2014)
  • Myths and Legends (2015 to Present, currently in 2015)
  • Limetown (2015 to 2018, currently in 2018)
  • Tanis (2015 to 2018, currently in 2016)
  • Inn Between (2018 to Present, fully caught up)
  • Start with This (2019, have listened to trailer)

I want to listen to them oldest to newest and, indeed, that’s how my app stores them. But then the issue is that you get a lot of whatever you’re farthest behind on (The Once and Future Nerd currently) and not a lot of the others.

If I jump around a lot, then the app gets confused and plays what is normally not the next episode of a show (I got halfway through episode 203 of Tanis yesterday and then realized I had not listened to episode 202) which is also not awesome.

All of the story-based ones (Tanis, Limetown, and Inn Between) use seasons, so there can be a sizable break between seasons (Limetown season 1 was in 2015 while season 2 didn’t start til 2018, for example). Once and Future Nerd is operating in chapters/books, so it makes sense to listen to an entire chapter at a time, even if it’s 4 or 5 episodes long.

Myths and Legends has put out an episode every week for the last four years, and has the largest volume of episodes, so it’s the hardest to catch up on, especially since episodes don’t always easily flow from one to the other and they tend to be long (between 30 and 40 minutes).

Night Vale goes every two weeks, but since I was up to date before I stopped listening, I’m not that far behind in the great scheme of things. And Start With This is literally two years old, so there’s all of about five episodes.

It doesn’t help that I can’t really listen to any of them with the kids in the car (Inn Between is pretty good, though a little violent at times, as expected from a gang of adventures, but we’ve run out of episodes now and shall have to wait until they start next season).

(I have started listening to them while I cook dinner, which is pretty good, although sometimes it is too loud to hear.)

So, what do you think, squiders? Should I do a number of episodes from a podcast in a row and then move to the next one? Do all of one series and let the others languish? Do one episode from each and just keep going until we catch up on all of them (letting the ones with fewer episodes drop out of rotation when we catch up)?

Also, can you believe summer is almost here? (Unless you live in the southern hemisphere, and then, can you believe winter is almost here?)

The Podcasts, Oh No

A few weeks back we talked about getting back into podcasts, and I mentioned three I was listening to and enjoying.

Well, squiders, the whole thing has been a mistake. By which I mean, it’s become a huge time sink.

My three podcasts are up to six. Since the last post I’ve added:

Limetown

Well, technically I didn’t add Limetown. When I logged back into my podcast app after my three-year absence, it was already in my saved programs. I have no recollection of adding it, but hey, it is my favorite mix of mystery/horror/fake journalism. I’ve listened to about a third of the first season, and I do like it. But it and Tanis are pretty similar, so I’m trying not to mix the two.

And then two I’ve added but have yet to listen to:

The Once and Future Nerd

I did start this one on the way over here, but there were a surprising amount of cuss words and I had a child in the car, so I turned it off. I got this (and the following one) off a list of best fantasy podcasts. Most of the ones on the list were taped D&D sessions, which are not my jam, but this one is a story, so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s been going forever, though, so it’s going to be a pain to catch up on. Also, not impressed in the two minutes I’ve listened to, but that doesn’t mean anything.

Inn Between

I really haven’t started listening to this one, but it’s not that old, so at least it won’t take forever to listen to. And the episodes are short, thank the Lord. The list sold this as what happens at the inn in between adventures. Hopefully there will be less cussing.

The biggest issue has been Tanis, which I mentioned last time, and is one of these mystery/horror stories presented as a radio show. I got super invested in it, so I started listening to it when I had a few minutes here or there, but you can’t just listen to part of an episode, and the episodes are long–35 to 45 minutes–and you get the point.

I think I listened to three episodes yesterday instead of, you know, writing.

But I’ve gotten to the end of the first season, so in theory I’m going to listen to Limetown and catch up on some of the podcasts without seasons (and thank goodness for seasons, it’s very nice to have a designated break point).

Or, also in theory, I will break and start the second season and everything else will languish.

The second issue is the Myths and Legends podcast which, while a more reasonable 25-35 minutes per episode and usually tame enough that I’m not going to traumatize the small, mobile ones if it’s on the radio in the car, tends to tell stories in multi-episode chunks. Right now I have a 3-part King Arthur episode downloaded.

Anyway, tl;dr–I’m spending my time listening to podcasts instead of, you know, reading the SIX BOOKS I’m in the middle of, or writing.

Advice on how to stop when I need to, squiders?

(I almost asked for podcast recommendations, but then I realized that was a TERRIBLE idea.)

Trying Podcasts Again

I like podcasts, squiders, at least in theory. The biggest issue is finding time to listen to them (or remembering to listen to them).

I don’t commute, so I don’t have transportation time. Sometimes I’ll remember to turn one on if I’m mowing the lawn or mopping the floor, but that goes back to the whole remembering thing again. And I can’t think and listen, so I can’t listen to them while I’m working (and am in awe that anyone can).

I had some marketing/writing ones that I used to listen to, but the issue was that invariably I would be doing something else while listening, so I’d have to stop both the podcast and whatever it was if I wanted to write down notes on the podcast content.

So, they’re not the greatest fit for me, or at least, I haven’t figured out how to fit them in. But I’m trying again. Not sure why. It’s like…I was standing there one day, and I thought, “Wow, I haven’t listened to Night Vale in forever,” and opened my podcast app on my phone (apparently never before opened on this particular phone, so I had to remember passwords and sundry), and here we are.

(I was over three years behind on Night Vale, so, wow, it has been forever.)

But for the last three weeks or so I’ve been listening again. When I was working on the consignment sale stuff, it was easy to listen to a few episodes here and there while pricing stuff, so I made some good mileage there. And the podcasts autoplay whenever the car and the phone pair, which is a little annoying (for example, if it’s a five-minute car ride and the small, mobile ones want to talk to me, and I’ve got to figure out how to dig my phone out of my pocket and pause the podcast, or if I don’t have the sound on, so it just autoplays itself with no one listening) but does mean that I’m not forgetting them.

So here’s what I’m (for the moment) listening to:

Welcome to Night Vale

Everyone knows Night Vale at this point, I suspect. On the off-chance you don’t (really?), it’s the community radio for a town somewhere in the American Southwest where every conspiracy theory is real.

I can see why I stopped listening–it’s a bit formulaic, which makes sense, so it gets a little old after a bit–but it is nice to see what I missed. I mean, I’m still 50 episodes behind, but I’m catching up. Also, every now and then there is a truly great episode. Episode 79 (Lost in the Mail) may have made me cry.

Myths and Legends

My spouse recommended this to me, because he knows I love mythology (and also he’s caught up on Night Vale and several other stories he’s listening to, and has time to poke around), and so far, so good. Every week the host tells all or part of a myth/legend and includes a creature of the week. I’m about six episodes in, I think, and so far we’ve covered one of King Arthur’s knights (Yvaine), Aladdin, and are part of the way into the Volsung saga of Norse mythology (apparently a major influence for Tolkien).

Tanis

My podcast app very quickly caught on to my particular brand of madness, and so keeps recommending me horror/mystery/supernatural docudramas and stories. Now, going back to the fact that I am bad at podcasts, I’ve mostly ignored said recommendations, but I did listen to the first episode of Tanis, which is a mystery horror podcast that presents itself as a journalist searching for this ancient idea of “tanis,” of which there are hints throughout history (Wikipedia tells me it’s “deep fiction” since nowhere does the show or its creators acknowledge it’s fictitious).

The first episode does a good job of dragging you in, so I’m going to give a few more episodes a try. They’ve also got a sister show, The Black Tapes, which is also mystery horror presented as reality, except having to do with ghosts, I think.

Listening to any good podcasts, squiders? Thoughts on these ones? Thoughts on how I can stick to/make time for listening in a way that doesn’t eat sections of my day?

Are Podcasts Really the Future?

Flowing from Tuesday’s topic, podcasts are something I’m starting to see recommended everywhere in the marketing world. One writing marketing newsletter I receive has gone fully that direction and now talks about nothing else.

A podcast, just so we’re all on the same page, is like a blog post, or a newsletter, except instead of being written, someone records it, and you listen to it. They can be a few minutes long to close to (or sometimes over) an hour.

The general selling point seems to be that we as a society are not willing to sit and read anything, and that by creating a podcast, you can reach more, busier people who you would never reach otherwise.

So, is this true?

Well, possibly.

We’ve talked in the past about things along these lines (whether people will read shorter things over longer things, watch movies over books, etc.) and the bottom line is that there will always be people who prefer to read over anything else.

Personally, I am not terribly fond of podcasts. They’re really only convenient to do when you’re doing something else (like mowing the lawn, or going on a long car trip) and I feel like it kind of divides your attention. I only listen to two on any sort of regular basis (Welcome to Night Vale and the Author Marketing Podcast) and they either distract me from what I’m doing at the same time, or I feel like I miss key information from the podcast itself.

But, on the other hand, I had an acquaintance the other day tell me they hadn’t read a book in eight years and it had been great (which is, honestly, about the saddest thing I’ve ever heard). So, is there a market of non-reading people out there that could potentially be reached through podcasts? Sure.

But podcasts replacing the written word? No. Supplementing? Why not?

(I mean, assuming you have a nice, quiet place to either record–if you’re a content producer–or listen to podcasts. Not in my household.)

What are your opinions on podcasts, Squiders? Wave of the future? A passing fad? Any podcasts you really like and would recommend?

Also, if a story were released serially in an audio format, would that be something worthwhile to you?

Night Vale

So, for the uninitiated, Night Vale (or, technically, Welcome to Night Vale, or WTNV for short) is a bimonthly podcast. The show itself is the community radio of a fictional desert city somewhere in the southwestern part of the United States. Sounds pretty normal, right?

Night Vale Twitter

A sample tweet

No. You are wrong.

You see, Night Vale is not a normal city. Here’s Wikipedia’s description of the show: “The show has been described as “the news from Lake Wobegon as seen through the eyes of Stephen King”, and Christopher Wynn of The Dallas Morning News characterized it as “NPR meets The Mothman Prophecies.” The Daily Dot‘s Gavia Baker-Whitelaw compared the podcast as being “caught somewhere between Weird Twitter and ‘Tales of the Unexplained'” and that it is “well worth a listen—although possibly not after dark, if you live in a small town yourself.”

One of the writers has said that he wanted a place where all the conspiracy theories are real. So there you are.

And the results are excellent. I actually really like it from a storytelling point of view. Something that’s an offhand news piece in one episode will be followed up on later. There are very few dangling threads in Night Vale, so kudos to them.

As a denizen of the Internet, I’ve been aware of Night Vale for a while, but I’ve only been listening to the podcast since we got back from Japan. And I am all caught up now, and we’re going to go to the live show next month, which promises to be a good time. Each episode is between 20 and 30 minutes (with the exception of the most recent, which was half of a live show and ran about 45 minutes) so it’s easy to listen to one or two a day (I do it while I’m vacuuming or mowing the lawn).

The characters are quite interesting too. The main character is Cecil, who is the radio DJ. As time goes on, other characters start showing up on the show as well, such as Carlos the scientist (who has perfect hair and teeth like a military cemetery–and also isn’t from Night Vale, and so is always a bit surprised by what’s happening), The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, Hiram McDaniels (literally a five-headed dragon–the green head is my favorite), and Intern Dana. (I ♥ Dana.)

I recommend giving it a listen if you like things like Lovecraft or Poe, even if podcasts aren’t usually your thing. There’s transcripts available to read along with if, like me, you have problems picking things up aurally.

Have any other fun story podcasts to recommend, Squiders? I have free time while I wait for the next episode to go up. Listen to Night Vale yourself? What are your thoughts? Who’s your favorite?