Wednesday, March 31, 2010

VA: Darker Projects - "Dr Who: Materia" September 2007

Everyone involved in the amateur online audio community gets to Do Some Who or Trek.

In September of 2007, I played Mara, leader of a group of rebels, in Darker Project's fan version of Doctor Who.

Part One of "Doctor Who: Materia" is here to listen to, and Part Two is here to listen to, or click through to DP's Doctor Who page.

I played this character in an english accent. It was a fun character, because she was of "dubious morals" to get the job done.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Voice: Woman Voice Over on WWE promo

I Like This: WWE Extreme Rules Promo.

Unable to embed, so click through to play the WWE Extreme Rules PPV promo. It continues on to other videos, so navigate away if you're not interested in any more.

I don't like it for the fact it's wrestling. I like it for the fact it has a WOMAN doing the voice over. And it sounds BAD ASS.

The last time I remember a woman doing voice over for WWE was in the 80s WWF. I admit I haven't watched wrestling consistently for two years, and watching Wrestlemania 26 last night was a good reminder that nothing has really changed. There used to be Lilian Garcia who for many years was a ring announcer, and now I really do miss her. Sure, I'll admit it took me a while to get used to her instead of The Fink, but Lilian had a wonderful sexy voice with cut through.

On: Ableist language and stereotypes of geek culture

Here is a vow: I will not use ableist, sexist, racist, homophobic, elitist or image-shaming language in my writing.

There is the obvious caveat - I will use them to highlight their awfulness, the "anti the anti" to make a point. However, I am determined at this point in my life to create more socially aware fiction.

This seems like a fairly obvious track to take. I am a woman, and one who identifies as feminist. However, 20 years ago when I first started dabbling in writing, I was unaware of the harm certain language could do. Sure, I thought certain words, jokes and stereotypes were terrible and I avoided using them, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I started getting schooled up on ableist language (eg: lame, retard), and how harmful transphobia and anti-women's power language was (eg: boobies on a guy, that chick has balls). I was embarrassed that I had used words and stereotypes like this. Now I will make the effort to think very hard about what I use in my writing. Also, if I slip up on this, I expect to be suitably castigated.

For a great example of privilege informing your writing, here's Shakesville's take on a recent James Franco short story in Esquire: "In 3,000 words, he manages to cram in racism, misogyny, homophobia, ableism, rape references, and some serious fat hatred." Yes, that's the actor James Franco.

It's not just a bad piece because of its horrible tropes, but also because it's terribly average writing. If I can't get pieces that I've picked apart past the slush pile, why can this guy? That's rhetorical by the way, we know why.

Of course, being open to awareness like this makes me flinch every time I hear and see it now. Over the weekend at the Armageddon con, I was disturbed to see a meme in anti-Twilight culture permeating the con. On t-shirts and badges was the phrase "Twihard? OMG retard". Yes, I know, it's supposed to be a joke. It's not funny.

What sort of message is this sending, and not just to young geek culture fans - that its ok to be have totally closed subjectivity and lack of empathy for people, disabilities, and fandom? I don't like Twilight, but I don't go round calling people names for it. What if a mentally disabled person likes Twilight? OMG they really ARE a retard ha See my Bitch Face. It's simple - don't call someone a retard. Find another word. Or you know, don't insult them at all.

Also, particular con guests, in efforts to be humorous and edgy (sigh), used the word "lame". Really? The person in the anecdote was actually physically disabled and unable to walk? Oh, ha ha, I see. You mean they were just being SILLY. The gentlemen also did trans/women jokes - a guy has boobies! so funny! coz it emasculates him! Then there was the "to be a respected woman she has to be a guy!" anecdotes - a certain woman Star Trek cast member was "best" known for her ability to fart. Wow, am I One Of The Guys too, because I can play a symphony with my butt?

While I heaved a few private sighs at the con, I was unsurprised. I was in a traditionally male space, where language and behavior has largely gone unchecked. This is stuff that takes a long time and a lot of effort to challenge. Every small drop helps, like blogging about it, and women and girls becoming a larger and more vocal part of geek culture. What use would it be making a scene at a t-shirt stall? Because as we all know, an angry person is totes irrational.

There were a few cheering thoughts. It seemed the ratio of female to males at the con was pretty even, attendees and stall holders alike. Con guests were weighted more to men, though Melodee Spevack was my shining light. CosPlay was weighted to women - there were some fab costumes, only one really revealing outfit, and a good job done by the Princess Leia white dress CosPlayer! I also saw lots more women comic artists, women comic/anime fans - especially young women and girls, I have hope for the Pink Princess Sect yet! - and no Booth Babes, huzzah!

In fact, there was a lack of revealed flesh all round. It felt good. With lots of kids around, it seemed like a reasonably safe environment. Something New Zealand has up on other cons perhaps?

As I say to many people who don't understand privilege and why it's so easy to drop thoughtless word bombs: I'm not offended, I am disappointed. Yeah yeah, sing "It's a small world" and ph33r mai r@1nb0w sox.

So here's the thing: if you can't think of a better word, use a thesaurus. If that's too tough for you, you're just being lazy and privileged.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Writing: This week in Revelling in Rejection

Since I started this blog a few days ago, I haven't laid down my Modus Operendi, or even why I've come to writing.

I will lay down a post some time about "Why I want to be a writer, and why I took so damn long to get started". However, this post is more a "get up to speed", the first of my "Revelling in Rejection" which I will post, hopefully at least week once a week. It's to keep me honest and focused. Before, I used to think talking about rejection and failure would make me feel like monkey arse, but right now I'm kind of gleeful - how many rejections can I rack up before I make my first professional sale?

Because it will happen. My motto is: It's only a matter of time.

The month of March came as a bit of a surprise to my motivation (or lack thereof). For years I've been bemoaning the fact (to myself) that I don't have the right circumstances to get writing - I don't have the right writing nook (I now do, and have had for 4 years); I don't have the privacy (now got a divider wall in the office). What it came down to was - I needed the TIME. My day job exhausts me mentally, and I find it very hard to sit down and spend another 4 hours in a day writing once I've dealt with the distractions of the real world.

So as the end of the financial year approached, I had the opportunity to use up leave I've had saved up for some time. At first it was "I'll take a Month of Mondays off and sleep in". Then I thought "Stuff that for a waste of time. What could I REALLY do with a full, quiet day to myself?". In the end it was "Suck it up woman! Do what you've been saying you'll do all this time!"

So for the last 5 weeks (minus the Monday I was recovering/travelling back from Lady Gaga's show), I have been writing. And sucking it up even further to actually SUBMIT. I've been saying to myself for quite some time "Things to do before you turn 40: Submit to publication!" I did that in my first week.

Of course it's ALL a learning experience. Even a few weeks into the process I realize what silly noobie mistakes I made. Lesson One? READ THE DAMN SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. I was getting all excited and breathless, and not reading hard enough - MS set up, and style of magazine have been my 2 failures so far I believe.

As it stands, I have had two rejections on "Piece One". The first rejection came with some fantastic feedback from the editor - what more could a noobie want (apart from that unicorn of a sale on first submission) - which helped me hone another draft. Second rejection of P1 came within TWELVE HOURS of submission. Ugh. Gotta love the ease of electronic subs, but wow. Ouch. While no feedback there, I think my failure came from not realizing the G status of the mag (ie: P1 has a dirty bit, albeit very small). Currently on a third submission, P1 actually made it through "step one" of a three step process. So not outright rejection from the slush, I'll be quite OK if that's as far as it gets there - it's a start!

Piece Two is currently still on it's first submission, and has been for three weeks. I'm a believer in "the longer it takes them to get back to me, the more they're considering it!"

Another thing I've done this month is test drive a membership at the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy. I believe it will certainly help with my grammar and a few of the writing tools I'm a bit rusty on, I just have to remember every reader is different! It's quite amusing that, despite their good intentions, some of my reviewers have tried to Suck All That Is Good out of my submissions ie: not getting the social awareness of a piece, or killing the punchline. Why try to overexplain a character or scene - where's the challenge for the reader in that? Why do you need everything laid out for you as a reader? I ENJOY being challenged as a reader.

I don't expect anyone to be reading this blog (at least until I'm a rich and famous writer - snerk). It's also part of my motivation, making myself accountable. Even if I don't become JK Rowling (Sheeeyeah, right) or Shakespeare (forsooth), I can at least say I TRIED. And I gotta tell ya, trying is making me totally happy.

I'm gonna have to seriously consider negotiating more time away from work for my projects. One of those flexible lifestyle contracts, methinks.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Armageddon, Christchurch, March 28 2010

Your blogger - a woman with red hair and glasses - peers over top of a box for the game Guild Wars, which has been autographed in silver pen

Hee. Steve Blum signed my Guild Wars game box.

I had a great time at Armageddon.

Dominic Keating (Malcom) and John Billingsley (Dr Phlox) of Star Trek Enterprise rarked it up in their panel, working the crowd for laughs. I'm more a Next Generation fan, but it was interesting to hear about the Hollywood Process.

I watched the Impact Pro Wrestling crew put on their usual Armageddon show, and were as rowdy and fun as in the past. I have little to do with IPW, and wrestling in general, since I stopped writing for NZPWI 2 years ago, and I was mostly there to support my friend Kirsty as she refereed for the show.

Ohh, another little dream job would be to announce for wrestling! Eat your heart out Lillian Garcia! Yeah? No.

I was mainly there to attend the VA panel, dubbed the "Animation Panel", with Steve Blum, Melodee Spevack, Michael McConnohie (yes yes, settle down Transformer geeks), and Tom Gibis. While I came to hear Blum, I was really drawn in by Melodee Spevack - she was very interesting and very assertive. An ex-stunt woman! deep sexy voice! years in the industry! red hair!

I asked a question about breaking into the VA industry and a lot of what they all mentioned were things I was doing, or have done, anyway - amateur theatre, radio industry experience (no brainer there for me), acting/voice classes (took voice as part of my degree). They also mentioned working on improv (hmm, never done that) and perfecting a "Flat American" accent (sigh).

After the panel I got in line for Steve to autograph my Guild Wars box, and had a lovely 5 minute chat with Melodee. She gave me a few tips on how to market oneself while living outside of the American market and how to work on an American accent, which is one of my MAJOR bug bears, damn you big vowels, rolling rrrrs and dark Ls! I really appreciated her time and generosity.

Maybe now is the time to start taking my voice work seriously - get myself registered with more agencies, in NZ and online, and create myself a better show reel. I should put that one up here, yes?

Also found this wicked badge (I'm such a child of the 80s):
A badge in the style of convention name stickers which says: Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die

Friday, March 26, 2010

Narration: BrokenSea - Halloween 2008

For the Halloween season of 2008, BrokenSea Audio Productions ran a full month of luscious horror.

Who doesn't desire to wrap their chops around some HP Lovecraft?

I read two pieces:

"The Doom That Came to Sarnath": Click here to download and listen, or click here to go through to the page.

"The Very Old Folk": Click here to download and listen, or click here to go through to the page.


VA: Darker Projects - "Tales From The Museum", Doctor Helene Mancuso

In Darker Projects' "Tales From the Museum" series written by Charles Russell, I play Doctor Helene Mancuso.

In an interesting twist, producer (and good audio drama buddy) Elie Hirschman wanted me to play Helene in my normal accent (I did ramp it up a bit "tidier" though...bordering on Sam Neill english eununciation) because they wanted her back story to BE a super intelligent scientist from New Zealand. She reminds me of an antipodean Temprence Brennan. Fun!

To make it even MORE interesting, I've picked up a couple of narration jobs BECAUSE of my turn as Mancuso. So, as down as I was after my disastrous EscapePod read, people complimenting me because of TFTM was a lift.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Narration: PodCastle - "Loose Drawers" by Charlie Allery, July 2009

"Loose Drawers" by Charlie Allery was a narration I voiced for PodCastle, also of the Escape Artists group, in July 2009.

You can click through here to listen to or download the podcast.

You'd think by now I would have packed up my little trunk and gone home with my tail between my legs. Nyah ah. I LIKE what the 'Pods are doing. So, for most of 2009 I chucked my hat in the ring and helped out with the digital editing at PodCastle.

Rachel Swirsky (bless her) gave me another chance, and let me narrate this flash.

So, not so much hate for the reading this time round. I must be getting better, only a bit of "cultural cringe" in the comments. Yeah, I's like hearing young Bobba Fett in Star Wars Episode 2 going "Daaaaaad, the Jedoi is hurr" to Tem Morrison.

Narration: PseudoPod - "Heavy Rains" by Andrew Nicolle, January 2008

"Heavy Rains" by Andrew Nicolle was a narration I voiced for PseudoPod, another of Escape Artists group of podcasts, in January 2008.

You can click through here to listen to or download the narration.

I thank Alasdair for taking pity on me and giving me a second chance, but the backlash from listeners was pretty much the same as with the Doctorow piece. People HATE my kiwi accent - is it centrism, or was I REALLY that bad? The voice work I do for my day job is acceptable for my clients, and even liked, but it does only play within New Zealand.

Another learn from my mistakes moment - I picked up from this one I was putting too much of my advertising voice rhythm into a reading. I can hit the spot in 30 seconds which I do on a daily basis, but I don't get enough practise at full narrations...which no one will give me coz of my sucky EP performance, Catch 22! Yeah, not giving up my day job just yet!

Narration: EscapePod - "Other People's Money" by Cory Doctorow, November 2007

"Other People's Money" by Cory Doctorow was a narration I voiced for EscapePod, the first I did for the Escape Artists group of podcasts, back in November 2007.

Click through here to listen to or download the podcast. Or not. But I don't believe in hiding my stuff ups.

This one was...problematic. I read in my usual accent. I'll address using my normal kiwi accent in another, more indepth post, but this reading garnered a lot of hate. Yes, the subject matter was difficult (even for me reading it), but I believe a non-US accent may have been chosen because the piece was about globalization. Yes, I was nervous as hell - it was my first major piece for a worldwide podcast - and I spoke too fast. Yes, I stuffed up the recording.

I appreciate that Stephen Eley gave me the chance, and I appreciate that I may never get the opportunity to read for EscapePod again - and that would be a shame, it's an excellent new media outlet for short SF. Could I go back if I sold my true accent out, and modified it, say, into my pseudo english accent? I doubt the EscapePod listeners would have me back.

You learn from your mistakes. Now I know how Phil Keoghan probably feels.

Sorry I butchered your great story Cory...

Writing: Darker Projects - "Zombie Pumpkinheads from Outer Space!", Halloween 2006

Utter cheese! "Zombie Pumpkinheads from Outer Space!" was an homage I wrote to pulp 50s and 60s science fiction. It appeared as a Halloween special under Darker Projects' Dark Matter brand on October 31, 2006.

Click here to listen to the audio direct, or click here to be directed through to the Dark Matter page.

Parody can be a lot of fun, you just have to be careful that you don't tip it over into outright silliness. Oh heck, even outright silliness is good for giggles - apparantly when he was recording his "dying screams", Chris Snyder managed to startle his dog.

Om nom nom slurp.

Writing: Darker Projects - "Hallowed Ground", Five Minute Fears, December 2006

While horror is not my strong suit, I have dabbled in it, writing a couple of audio dramas for Darker Projects.

One of them was "Hallowed Ground", a short horror audio released as a Five Minute Fear in December 2006 - click here to listen to the audio direct, or click here to be directed through to the Five Minute Fears page.

VA: Pendant Audio - Nebulon in "Dixie Stenberg and Brassy Battalion"

In March 2007, I joined the cast of Pendant Audio Productions "Dixie Stenberg and Brassy Battalion" adventure thee-A-terrr, playing the nefarious Nazi-sympathizing robot, Nebulon.

Nebulon first turns up in Episode Nine, "The Donnybrook in Death Valley", on March 6, 2007.

Since all good villains have a catch phrase, Nebulon made "caaaaaaaaaaaaake!" her own.

It's true. Villains are so much more fun to play.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

VA: Broken Sea - "Outside The Box" by Lynne Jamneck, March 11 2010

Here is the enhanced audio story I was part of, Lynne Jamneck's "Outside the Box" for Broken Sea's Twilight Theatre. I played the character of Fin.

It was released March 11, 2010

This one was a lot of fun, done in a hard boiled fantasy private dick meets New York Irish style.

Narration: SFFAudio - "The Burning Bridge" by Poul Anderson, October 2009

Back in October 2009, I did a narration of Poul Anderson's "The Burning Bridge" for Rick Jackson at Wonder Audio.

It appeared on SSFAudio on October 5, 2009.

You can listen to the narration here.

This one was done in my normal kiwi accent.

Steve Blum at Armageddon Expo, Christchurch, March 27-28

I'm very keen to hear Steve Blum speak at Armageddon Pulp Culture Expo in Christchurch this weekend.

I believe Mister Blum is doing talks and panels on the Sunday, however the Armageddon website doesn't seem to be working well currently (it's showing the old incarnation with no timetable).

This is a bit of an intersection of fan-squee and serious interest. To me, Steve Blum is Pyre Fierceshot/Justiciar Hablion/Your Male Hero in Guild Wars, my favourite game EVAH. I'm sure he represents other levels of squee-ness within anime and games to other people, but I'll be quite pickled to maybe hear him drop some hints about working on Guild Wars 2.

Here he is in a trailer for GW2 entitled "Giving Tyria a Voice":

Hee, yeah, that's Felicia Day as a VA for GW2 as well. So geeky-good it hurts!

If I can get past the fan squee around me, it will be interesting to hear Steve talk about working as a VA for the game industry, something I would LURVE to have a crack at.

Narration: Transmissions From Beyond 28 - "Ten With A Flag" by Joseph Paul Haines

My narration of Joseph Paul Haines' short story "Ten With A Flag" (Interzone , April 2006) is up now at Transmissions From Beyond, the Podcast of TTA Press.

This was done in what I call my "Kate Winslet" english accent, at the request of TFB and the author.

O hai

A road map of the lower South Island of New Zealand. An arrow points north west of Invercargill to a small town which has been circled. The town is called Ohai

O hai thar.

Particularly amusing that there IS a place called "Ohai" in New Zealand. It's northwest of Invergiggle. Neither of these places is where I live, by the by.

I'll have to make a point of travelling through there one day - surely there's a town sign begging for a photo.

Welcome to my random little corner of the universe. Hang tight, normal Pickled transmission will resume shortly.