Friday, July 19, 2013

THE DEAD RISE: five years later.

I reread The Dead Rise this week.

The plan was: clean it up, polish it to a fine gloss, put it out on the Kindle. Maybe, if it was really good, try to pass it along to agents again.


Back up five years: July, 2008. I wanted to write a book, but I didn't know how to begin. I'd just written Noisome Beasts, which was sort of a very long short story. Inspiration struck, and I spent a couple of weeks throwing together a short novella. No planning. No structure. I just sort of started wherever and ended when I felt like it.

When I finished, I thought it was pretty good.

So I sent it out to a few agents; I actually heard back from a couple of them. They told me that it was way, way too short. 

I spent a couple of months beefing up the novella, and when I was done, I sent it out again. I heard back from another agent who read the whole thing and told me that it just wasn't ready for prime time.

I benched the book. Sat on it and worked on a few other things. Five years later...

The agent was SO right! The Dead Rise is uneven and clunky. The main character spouts out exposition and lays out every thought in his head. He's self-absorbed and narcissistic. At the time I wrote it, I thought that was unique. It wasn't. It might have the potential to be, except:


Nothing happens! I mean, little things happen here and there, but I gave zero shits about them. I just felt embarrassed by the whole thing.

But I got excited, because I think that I can fix this. I think I can make this interesting; maybe even good. No promises. The Dead Rise has a really exciting premise; I want to do more with it. I screwed up a lot of stuff because this was practice; every book is practice; and this was my first non-jokey book.

I'm working on an outline for version three. Over the next few months, I plan on rewriting 90% of The Dead Rise. When I'm finished, we'll see where we are.

Not that anyone's holding their breath, but no new Kindle books in 2013 :-)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: Complete Audio Mastering by Gebre Waddell!

Back from my much needed hiatus, batteries recharged! I started prepping the third draft of The Dead Rise today. It's going to be a tough, tough project. A post for another day.

In the meantime, a review for Gebre Waddell's Complete Audio Mastering: Practical Techniques! Gebre is one of my oldest friends; we've known each other half our lives. He's a professional mastering engineer and runs his own studio, Stonebridge Mastering.

When Gebre first asked me to review his book on audio mastering, I was a little uncertain - I'm a novice to music production. I'd heard of mastering and mixing, but wasn't entirely sure of much more than that. I was delighted to find that Complete Audio Mastering is both an accessible introduction to audio mastering and a solid discussion of professional mastering techniques.

The book starts from scratch, introducing the key concepts behind mastering - why it's a necessary part of an album's creation, and what's involved from beginning to end. From there, he outlines equipment, techniques, and tips for avoiding common mistakes. No two mastering engineers will master the same track the same way, so trying to create a step-by-step from process beginning to end is like trying to describe how to paint a portrait. Instead, Gebre lays out the tools and techniques of his profession and describes what does and doesn't work.

My favorite thing about the book is how much I learned about just listening to music. Volume is key; Gebre mentions that increasing the volume just a fraction can completely change a listener's appraisal of a piece, which is why maintaining strict control of volume is important in mastering, and why the Loudness Wars resulted in poor mastering practices.

One word of warning: I wouldn't expect a novice to instantly know how to master. There are technical details that will likely go above the head of a beginner; I'd suggest reading this as a textbook alongside a course or an internship (Gebre discusses several possible 'next steps' in chapter 15.) But even if you don't plan a career in mastering, Complete Audio Mastering is a fantastic guide to what goes behind the scenes after an album is mixed. It's available on Amazon now through McGraw-Hill/TAB Electronics.