In case you missed it, March 2nd was my agencyForeword Literary’s first birthday! *confetti cannon*
They’re celebrating their paper-less anniversary with some amazing promotions.
For the entire month of March, all of the FastForeword eLights will be free on Smashwords and 99 cents on Amazon. Novel-length FFWD e-books will be 99 cents on Smashwords and $2.99 on Amazon. Other promotions will occur throughout the month. Keep an eye out.
From March 2nd – 8th, the work of FastForeword authors will also be featured in the Read an E-book Week catalog. During this week, our novel-length collections will also be available for free on Smashwords using the coupon code RW100.
Leading off all this promotion will be a new and unique FFWD offering, The Burden of Light. A pay-what-you-want, multimedia-enhanced, Smashwords exclusive with 90 authors involved, it coincides with March as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month by donating 100% of the
proceeds to colon cancer research.
And of course, MY FastForeword eLight
Hero Is A Four Letter Word is also FREE on Smashwords and 99c on Amazon all week!
You can follow Foreword Literary on Tumblr, on Twitter, befriend us and add our books on Goodreads, and find out about the FastForeword program and catalog of amazing ebooks here.
And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FOREWORD!
This short story was originally written for inclusion in Outside In Vol. 2. However, due to size constraints, it was released from the volume and with the permission of the editor, I’m sharing it here. Enjoy!
About Outside In Vol 1: We gathered 160 writers from the Doctor Who community to say something new about the stories we know so well. It’s an unprecedented archive of passionate and vocal opinions that capture the essence of Doctor Who and its many-splendoured fandom.
Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the greatest television program ever, you’ll find in these pages mock-angry letters to the BBC, transcripts of council meetings, a menu, flow charts, maps, scripts, timelines…and much, much more.”
I am wrongways up, and it hurts. My swimming pool has leaked all over the cloister again, and the bottles of the library books are akimbo on their shelves. My Time Lord is not within me. I moan, wheeze futile, and then open my external scanners wide, and search for the two Hearts I cradle within my own.
He is so far away.
And He is gone such a long time.
I wait, because this is what I do. He runs. I remain.
When He returns his face is new. Younger. But etched with agony,
determination, pain and promise. He wears bandeau of bullets between His Hearts and it makes my corridors quiver with horror. I say to Him the same thing I always say to Him. The thing I’ve been trying to say out loud to Him for eight hundred years.
Something has changed. I flex my telepathic circuits, a slight shiver and curl, having to work harder than I’ve ever needed to in nearly a millennia.
This is my Time Lord.
But this is not my Doctor.
There is an approaching storm in His Head, a void between His Hearts.
I cannot find Susan in Him. I cannot find Ian, or Barbra, Jamie, or Pari, Leela, Ace, Sarah Jane, or Grace. Even our most recent guests are gone: Charley, C’rizz, Lucie, Tamsin, Molly. They are locked away. They are the beloveds of a man who is not this man, a man whose two Hearts are greater in capacity than the sum of the universe, and they do not belong in this Head.
The last Him was the first Him to ever hold out His hand and say “Give me the gun, please.” Future Hims and Past Hims have refused, all the Hims I know have refused. This perhaps should have been my first clue. The first to be cut down by such a weapon, the first to ask for one, the first to decide to become one.
Oh, my Doctor. If we are not Healers, then what are we? What is the point of us?
When He approaches my console, He does not pet. He does not croon. He does not call me His dear, dear old Girl, his Sexy, and I wheeze in horror.
He was the first to willingly ask for a gun, to hold His hand out, palm up, fingers splayed in the San Franciscan rain.
He fights always, and instead, with words. “Please don’t,” and “Think this through!” and “I can find you a planet, I can take you far from Here where no one needs be harmed and you can start again,” and “No more!” He pleas, He whispers, He promises, He bullies, He threatens, He warns. And if that fails then, and only then, does He fight with something bigger, stronger, sharper, more terrifying. Only then does the great dark anger of Him froth and boil. Only then does He make the decisions that no one else is qualified to make; the choice to amputate to save the Universe, our eternal patient.
We have abstained from the Time War, but when lives are at stake, when the universe crumbles, again and again He lifts His palms, splays His fingers and asks, “Please. Please. Give it to me.”
What He means, what He always means is I shall be the weapon.
The truth of my Doctor is this: He will never hold a weapon. But He will always allow Himself to become one. That, always and forever that, rather than let another.
It must never be another.
He is The Doctor, and He will take responsibility for being the purgative, the tincture, the radiation, the laser, the cut, the stitch. When it comes time for a blade to be hefted and blood to run, it will be He, and He alone, will wield the scalpel.
That is the promise that is hidden in His title. The Bringer of Darkness, the Oncoming Storm, The Predator, The Valiyard, Time’s Champion, and now… the Warrior? A Time Lord, yes, my Time Lord. But The Doctor. Always and forever my Doctor.
If someone has to make the hard choices, if someone must sacrifice in order to save, my Doctor will always and forever choose Himself first.
And when that time is over, when all the genocides committed, when all our Hearts have broken and our eyes a sore with the burden of their tears, when The Moment has passed, I shall hope, I shall pray, for the return of the Doctor I know and love so well.
That when He has finished this terrible, costly surgery, He will become His own patient. That He will return to me, to my open doors, my open halls, and rest. Find joy. Find love, and laughter, and guests.
Physician, I plead. When this is over, please, please come back to me as you were and… Heal thyself.
About J.M. Frey
J.M. is an actor, award-winning SF/F author, fanthropologist and pop culture scholar. She is best known in Doctor Who fandom as the author of “Whose Doctor?” in Doctor Who In Time And Space (McFarland), for her appearances on the Space Channel’s “InnerSPACE” and as the designer/wearer of the cosplay Steampunk light-up TARDIS gown.
Last night was quite gratified to be included in the Brockton Writers Series reading at Full of Beans. There were four authors as we all read for about ten minutes (I read from my new anthology HERO Is a Four Letter Word. Natch)After the reading, there was an open Q&A, and some private discussion, and something that came up more than once is if I, as a published author, thought that taking a writing course was a good idea.
How’s that for a can of worms? The thing is, there’s no wrong or right way to answer this question. I, personally, don’t know the asker’s skill level, nor read their work, nor do I know what they’ve already taken or not.
There’s simply no blanket answer for a question like “Should I Take A Writing Course?”
Well, did I take a writing course? I did take some. I took a short story writing, and a playwriting course while in school. My undergrad major was Dramatic Literature, so there was a lot of script writing and analyzing in those classes. I also did a self-directed screenwriting course, and had a TA oversee the creation of a play from concept to public workshop reading to performance.
On top of all that, I was writing scads of fanfic, and engaging in the community there to learn more about storytelling, editing, beta reading, and characterization. I also worked with a writer’s group when I lived in Japan, and I try to be engaged with NaNoWriMo when I can.
So what are some Pros of taking writing courses?
· Skills and Drills: Each week your teacher/seminar leader/ will probably ask you to read and write something. Just like drilling and learning new skills in a sport, doing so in writing will teach you how you prefer to engage in the physical and creative act of writing. You will learn what kind of spaces you prefer to write in, what kind of time frame you need to carve out, how quickly you can produce something if you hate the story and if you love it, how you need to approach edits for yourself, and of course, you’ll be practicing your punctuation and grammar skills with each piece.
· Practice: They say that you have to write 10 000 crappy words before you can write any good ones. It may not be an exact science, but I firmly believe that the more you produce, the more you understand how you, personally, prefer to tell stories, and that makes each subsequent work easier to create, to bring into reality.
· Networking: Creative Lit teachers are usually agents, writers, or publishers. It can’t hurt to know them, learn about their worlds, and get their advice or mentorship. And your classmates might one day be the very people who help guide your career.
· Learn from others: Every person reads stories and tells stories differently. It’s amazing what you can find in a tale, or produce in your own when you really engage with people of differing genders, sexualities, cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, languages, and hobbies than you. And if they recommend a book or author, it could possibly lead you down the trail to a wonderful world of books you might have otherwise ignored or never even known about.
· Learn new skills: In working with your classmates, you might learn something you never knew before: a different storytelling technique, a structural idea, a different way to build characters or plot. And of course, if it’s a course for beginners, you ought to also be learning the foundations of punctuation, grammar, and manuscript formatting.
· Produce some back catalogue: Maybe none of the work you create while in class will ever be published, but you’ll probably have a stack of writing that you can submit to agents, publishers, anthologies, or collections, if it’s quite polished and ready.
· Gain confidence: There is honestly nothing more thrilling than a classmate’s response to your writing. A great note, a scrawled smiley face or a checkmark, a gasp, a small sob, a shout or a yelp, a “No, you can’t end there! Then what?!” These are all gold, and they’ll help you feel confident about yourself and your work.
· Learn about grants, contests, groups: Or maybe form your own writing group out of your peers.
· Can workshop submission packages: You can learn to write and hone a query letter, log lines, synopsizes, and pitches.
· Honesty: Hey, this is a group of strangers. If your work is crap, they’ll tell you so. Hopefully in an encouraging, constructive way, but they’ll still say so. You’ll get a lot of practice with editing, taking constructive criticism, parsing a note to see what the real problem is, working with restructuring and overhauls, and maybe even dealing with haters and trolls.
Of course, there are also cons to taking writing courses:
· General skill level of those around you may be lower than yours: You may be above the basics, or you may find their storytelling ability less advanced.
· Can’t tell straight off if your prof will be a good teacher. Not all professors have taken teacher’s school, or are natural pedagogues. It can sometimes be infuriating if they’re a crappy teacher, or just a self-important windbag. Worse, it’s a waste of your time and money.
· Might kill your passion for writing: Either by boring exercises, mean teachers and classmates, or just oversaturation and too much focus on the writing.
· Storytelling is not entirely a skill that can be taught. It’s something that you have to find within yourself and hone, and develop. You can’t just go into a class and expect to come out a master storyteller in six months. It’s something that never stops evolving, a skill you never stop honing and exploring and learning. (I’ve been writing for 20 years and I don’t think I’m a master storyteller yet. I don’t think anyone thinks they are).
· Imagination is not entirely a skill that can be taught. You need to learn how to play, to twist, to envision and debate with yourself.
So, in the end, I think taking some courses can be great to help you get a good foundation and a set of tools to teach you how to be a good, solid, technically proficient writer. But I don’t think any piece of paper or GPA will be able to teach you how to be a good storyteller. That is something that only practice and sharing your stories with others (both to critique and to praise) will teach you.
Do I think that you should do an entire degree in creative writing? Well… no.
I’m sure I’ll be lynched for this, but I’m not certain what merit there is in doing just creative writing for four years. You need to learn other things, experience and live other things. Writers are not just writers. Writers are biologists, like Julie Czerneda, and scientists like Erin Bow. They are mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts, engineers and painters, playwrights and actors, dancers and secretaries, personal assistants and fast food cashiers, janitors and archeologists, activists and bakers.
But maybe that’s just my fear talking. I feared taking a full degree in creative writing because I feared coming out the other side hating it. I feared it would stop being fun and start becoming a chore, like all my other homework. I’ve known plenty of phenominal artists who chose not to get MFAs for the very same reason. But then there are also lots of phenominal artists and writers who did do a full degree, came out loving it and producing amazing work so…
Really, it’s your choice. You know your own opinions and habits better than I do.
So, here’s some actual advice about Writing Courses:
I think they are important. I think they need to be taught and they need to be taken to ensure that you, as a writer, as fully educated in the technical, professional, and skills-oriented foundation of being a storyteller that you can be.
I think the best way to do it is to take courses in the sorts of writing you don’t do normally. Take a class on play or screenwriting if you’re a novelist. Take a class in novels if you normally write poetry or shorts. Take a class in poetry or comics if you write for the screen. The cross pollination of your skill set will teach you many and various ways to tell stories, and perhaps help strengthen your primary story telling set.
Part of the reason The Hunger Games is such a well-received series is the pacing. You start reading the books and you just. Can’t. Stop. Suzanne Collins was a screenwriter as well as a novelist, so you can bet she knew bunches about the three act structure, dialogue, action and narrative pacing, setting up scenes, and things like Chekhov’s Gun. These are all skills that you drill and hone in a screenwriting class. And they are skills that are transferable to novels, poems, short stories, and plays. And fanfiction.
And if you can’t afford a writing course, there are many many books and online tutorials, writing groups (in person or online), communities like NaNoWriMo and AO3, and other resources that are available to you where you can get the same experience and education as you would in your writing course.
I hope this has been helpful!
You’re invited to ring in the new year with the Brockton Writers Series, on Wednesday Jan. 8, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Full of Beans Coffee House and Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., with readings by Katie Boland, J.M. Frey, Michael Mirolla and Sherwin Tjia. Author Cory Silverberg will begin the evening at 6:30 p.m. with a talk about crowd funding and how writers can put it to use. Readings begin at 7:05 p.m. This is a pay-what-you-can event (suggested $3 to $5). There will be a question and answer period, as well as books and treats, which will be available for sale. The venue is wheelchair accessible, however, the washroom facilities are not.
Since posting my response on why I choose not to support Orson Scott Card, I’ve recieved a few emails and comments that all ask, essentially, the same question:
If you don’t want to support Card, why not just pirate the book/film?
One commenter, who I will keep Annon out of courtesy, politely suggested this:
Have you thought of looking into pirating pdfs of books by authors you wish not to support? You may be one of those people who prefers hard copies of books, but as a last resort, pdfs are readily available on the internet in ways that let you avoid supporting the author.
Here is my reply:
Thank you very much for your suggestion. Yes, I know what pirating and torrents are. I used to use them when I was young, before I realized I could stream TV shows legally from the broadcaster’s websites, and that there were cheap, quick ways to get ahold of digital copies of media legally. (Or, in the case of many libraries, for free. I know the Toronto Public Library lends ebooks, emags, and films/TV shows for free. And using the library means that creators, at least in Canada, get Public Lending Rights cheques.)
Pirating sometimes can have a positive effect – in situations where the media text is being passed on because it’s unavailable in a certain region, it introduces a media text to audience members who would otherwise have no access or idea that the text exists. In that way, I see it as no different than handing your friend your copy of a book and saying “Read this, I know you’ll like it.” When passing around a digital copy happens like that, I think that’s fine, because it’s a personal interaction and it’s meaningful. It comes with a reccomendation, a word of mouth endorsement, and the potential for an expanded audience and readership for the creator. Often the pirated media text is later bought, or inspires the reciever to buy other texts by the same creator.
But more often than not, pirating happens in situations where there are many legal means of acquiring a media text, and usually for very little cost or for free. This sort of pirating is the kind that takes money out of the pockets of the Little Guys of Hollywood, or the publishing industry, or the Boots-On-The-Ground jobs in television.
I especially cannot condone pirating as I am a professional creator who relies on people buying my art so I can pay off my student debt, buy my medications and groceries, and keep a roof over my head. And I am friends with other professional artists who require paycheques to pay their mortgages, feed their kids, and take care of their health bills.
I cannot in good conscious pirate films, books, music, or other creative media. Anyone’s. Even Card’s.
(“But JM!” I hear you cry, “These corporations have millions of dollars! They can afford to get pirated!” The answer is – yes, they have millions. And they use that millions to pay the wages of everyone who works on a film/TV show/Book. Which means their pockets are essentially empty when the media text launches. If they don’t recoup that money at the box office/in sales/in residuals and royalties, then they don’t have enough money to make the NEXT project. Which means people having no jobs, or losing the ones they have.
“You hypocrite!” I also hear you cry. “You complain about piracy and yet you want us to boycott Ender’s Game!”
It’s not hypocrisy. The failed box office of one film sends a corporate message to studios, and does not endanger anyone’s job or position except, perhaps, Card’s. Everyone else who worked on that project has been paid and moved on. It’s a bummer for the studio, but now they know that the rainbow dollar is not impressed with Card’s work, and that it might not be a worthwhile investment next time. Every film comes with failure risks and, in fact, insurance in case it fails.
But pirating hundreds of films, shows, albums, and books means thousands of people not getting paid, and not getting paid regularly. Which means they have to stop creating for a living, because they’re not MAKING a living, and have to take a different job to get by.
You love your favourite band/author/filmmaker/TV show/artist? You want more of their work? Pay for the work they have out so they can keep creating. End of.)
TL;DR – So, while I may not choose to buy Card’s work, I will not steal it. I don’t like the jackass’ views, but I’m also not going to break into his house and steal jewelry from his bedroom, or steal the car from his driveway. Theft is theft. I know how much effort goes into creating an artistic work and I cannot reward the creators whose work I love by robbing them of their rightfully earned dollars, viewing statistics, ratings, and sales. Especially when I want the artist to be able to afford to create more. In the case of Card: I’m perfectly content to just not read it. And, forgive me, but now I have to address what a lot of people seem to be saying without actually saying it. What they are saying is this: “But how can you possibly be okay with such a large and important gap in your reading history. You HAVE to read Ender’s Game. How can you not? How can you hate the book? The book is so good. The book is WORTH READING.”
And… well… no. Everyone who has commented about how I can read the book and still not support Card if I steal it is MISSING THE POINT. I don’t WANT to read it. Everyone seems to be a bit hung up on the idea that I would really like Ender’s Game if only I read it, if only I gave it a chance. Everyone seems to think that it’s a book worth reading, that one MUST read. That I, and every other person who considers themselves a geek HAS to read. And while that might be some people’s opinion, I don’t share it.
I don’t believe that there is a SF/F cannon of books that one ABSOLUTELY MUST READ OR ELSE.
There are books that are good, and have become championed classics for a reason. Books that are worth reading, worth recommending, worth passing on to younger generations. We all have those books, but there’s nothing saying that all those books will be the same for each person, nor that they SHOULD be.
I believe in the power of a good book to touch many people, but do I believe that there are books that you MUST read in order to become a proper geek – like articles you must understand to get your PhD? No.
Everyone’s personal taste is just that. Personal.
And I personally do not like military SF. I don’t like reading it. Even if Card wasn’t an abominable human being, I would not choose to read Ender’s Game. In fact, before I ever knew about Card’s views, I read one of his books, “Enchantment”. It was good enough that I wanted to find more of his work to try out, but when presented with Ender’s Game, I declined it.
The number of awards it’s won, the number of people who enjoy it and recommend it will not change the fact that it is still militaristic SF and I don’t like reading things like that.
I haven’t read Dune, I haven’t read Starship Troopers. I just barely like Star Trek, and my favourite episodes are the culture-based ones. I stopped watching DS9 when the war started because I lost interests. It’s just simply, and honestly, not my bag. There are many books that I feel that people MUST read (Shapechangers by Jennifer Roberson, The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley) but would I ever pester and condemn and shame people for choosing not to read these books because they just don’t match people’s taste. Not every book will appeal to every reader. As an author, yes, I hope I write a book that appeals widely to a vast swath of readers; as a professional writer whose paycheques pay my rent, yes, I hope it hits big so millions of people buy it. But as an artist I understand that all I can do is create something that speaks to me and hope that it touches at least one other person. So yes, thank you for your suggestion but I do not want to read Ender’s Game, and I certainly will not be pirating it to do so.
(Friday November 1st, I will be reading and signing at Glad Day Books/Geeks Out’s SKIP ENDER’S GAME.)
10:00am - Oak Ridges – Writers’ Workshop with J.M. Frey: World and Culture Building
3pm - Oak Ridges – Walking the Fine Line between Fan-Scholar and Scholar Fan
4pm - Gormley – Cosplay: Doctor Who Style
8pm - Grand York – Judging the Masquerade
10:00am - Newmarket - Love and the Doctor
12:00 -Oak Ridges - Reading from something NEW AND WONDERFUL
7pm - Newmarket - Is Doctor Who Still a Children’s Program?
On November 1st, 2013, I am proud to say that I will be participating in SKIP ENDER’S GAME.
Where: Glad Day Book Shop, 3rd floor event space When: November 1st, 7pm-9pm
The lovely GEEKS OUT is coordinating a continent-wide series of parties, each hosted at a different venue in different cities, where LGBTQA artists of all stripes will be doing readings, screenings, musical performances, and many other fun things. I think this is a great idea, because not only is it asking people to skip the film, but this way people will be exposed to lots of other fantastic artists whose beliefs and work support the queer community.
However, since announcing that I will be appearing at SKIP ENDER’S GAME TORONTO, I’ve had a few questions about why I’m supporting this event, and why I’ve chosen to boycott “Ender’s Game”. To make things easy, I thought I’d answer those questions here.
If you have more questions, I’m happy to answer them, but I’d like to keep the tone respectful, please.
Also, there’s a really thorough and thoughtful set of FAQs on the official Skip Ender’s Game site, so I really encourage every .
#1 What about all those people who worked on the film? They won’t get paid if we don’t go.
They’ve already been paid.
As someone who works in film, let me clarify: Everyone who works on making a film who did not risk their own money gets a paycheque for their work. The final result of the box office does not affect the pay of the actors, the camera man, the crew, the caterer, the wardrobe department, the locations scouts, etc. They get paid their weekly allotment as they’re working on the film, just as anyone else might if they work in retail, an office, etc.
The only people who get a share any of the box office money are the people who put money into making the film – the studio, the funding agencies, the granting agencies, and the executive producers.
Sometimes, like in the case of the Sherlock Holmes films and Robert Downey, jr, an actor can sometimes also be both the actor and one of the executive producers.
In the case of “Ender’s Game”, Card was one of the executive producers. Obviously, I haven’t seen his contract, but as an executive producer, he is in all likelihood going to be getting a cut of the box office, residuals, and possibly things like DVD/Blu Ray/Digital Download sales, and merchandise sales.
And I, as a queer woman, choose not to put my money in his pocket, no matter how small that percentage will be.
But the people who worked on the film? They got their paycheques last year. They’re all working on different films now. And if “Ender’s Game” gets no sequel deal, or no other OSC books are made into films, then they’ll find other work. There’s always work in Hollywood. There’s always a hundred thousand other films in the pipeline, just waiting to be greenlit.
A failed box office for “Ender’s Game” does not affect the workers of Hollywood.
A failed box office for “Ender’s Game” it also sends a pretty clear message to any studio who was ever thinking of working with OSC again: This Man Is An Unwise Investment.
#2 Why don’t you want your money to go to OSC?
Think of it as a personal choice.
I am a queer woman. Orson Scott Card is a man who has publically stated that I am a) confused and unhappy simply because I am queer, b) not a real person and that my sexual identity is just deviant behavior and not really a part of who I am and c) that he would applaud violent action taken against any government that will grant me personhood. (See here for citations and quotes.)
If I go to see Ender’s Game, the money I pay to see the film will end up, in whatever small a percentage, in Card’s pocket. Orson Scott Card was not only paid for being the original writer of Ender’s Game, as a producer on the film he gets a take of residuals, royalties, and box office. He will then take my money and use it to continue to fund organizations that deny me my rights as a human being and citizen of a democratic country, and will further demean, bully, slander me, and spread hateful doctrine that could possibly lead to me being physically harmed, raped, or murdered.
So, no, no thanks. I don’t think I’ll be going to see “Ender’s Game”. It’s a personal choice.
#3 But what’s your issue with the movie? There’s no anti-queer stuff in the book/movie.
I’ve never read the book “Ender’s Game”, so I can’t comment on the content. I have read OSC’s “Enchantment” and found that I really liked the cleverness, the word and world crafting, and could forgive the misplaced minor misogynistic moments. That’s why it made me all the more disappointed when I learned of OSC’s personal view of, well, me.
I had to stop purchasing his work, because I couldn’t justify my money going into the pocket of an egregiously anti-queer activist. ESPECIALLY considering that I make an effort to include characters of different orientations, races, and genders in my own novels.
I work hard to use my work to respectfully uplift and celebrate the very people that OSC personally reviles and publically condemns. I can’t comment on whether I find his work contains the same vitriol that his public articles, blog posts, and statements have, because I have, on moral grounds, refused to read and/or purchase it.
Which is a real shame, because I hear “Ender’s Game” is an excellent read.
#4 You can’t tell me what to do! You can’t tell everyone to boycott a film!
I’m not telling you what to do. I’m stating why I’ve made the choice I’ve made. I hope that you consider my points when you make your own choice, whatever it may be.
How does this work?
1. Donate ANY AMOUNT to National Novel Writing Month, and earn your donor halo.
2. Become my buddy on NaNoWriMo.org, then send me a message via your NaNoWriMo profile with the first 300 words of your novel. (It can be the first 300 you wrote, or the first 300 of the manuscript, but please add a little bit of context if the chunk of text isn’t the start of the story)
3. If your profile photo is adorned with a donor halo, I will reply to your message with a critique of your chunk of text.
4. Please be patient; as I’m also participating in NaNoWriMo it might take me a few months to get through all of the critiques. But I promise: I will do each and every one before the end of 2013!
More Info and Links:
J.M.’s advice for NaNo: Be A Bit Crap.
J.M.’s blog series: Words for Writers
Why J.M. loves NaNoWriMo, and will support it.
Another LIP-FLAP Friday question and answer has produced another great blog post that I thought I should share here. This one is about VOICE ACTING.
kwramsey asked: How does one get started as a voice actor?
I will give you my answer, but I thought, since I have the privilege of calling Alyson Court (Big Comfy Couch, Beetlejuice, Resident Evil, X-Men, etc.) an occasional hang-out buddy, I thought I’d ask if she had any advice.
Here’s what Alyson had to say:
Thanks to modern technology (in the form of one’s own laptop recording device and access to millions of examples of different character voices on line), anyone can easily acquire the tools they need to start honing their skills. Record yourself and listen back. Get to know how your own voice changes depending on volume, emotion, etc, and work to control and stretch your range. You don’t have to be able to do everything but the voices that you choose to specialize in should be polished and you should be able to do them with ease and control. The only way to get good at anything is to practice practice and… what’s that? Oh, yeah, PRACTICE.
All of this can be done for free. No point shelling out hundreds of dollars on a demo if you don’t have anything good to record. Get the voices down and then make a demo and yeah it costs a bit but it’s totally worth getting your first demo done professionally- you’ll learn lots at the recording session.
Then, once you have a decent demo, start shopping it around to talent agencies.
JM: And how did you get into voice acting, Alyson?
I went to a school for the arts starting in grade 4. They used to get calls from producers so I started going to auditions. Got an agent a couple months later and the rest is history! But being one of the first Nelvana kids is probably the source of my voice career- right time, right place.
Nelvana needed kids voices and there wasn’t an established kids voice pool yet- Nelvana basically created it in Canada. So most of us truly owe our starts to Nelvana.
JM: Thanks Alyson!
JM Frey adds:
I became a voice actor because one of the vocal coaches I was working with in university mentioned that I had a good radio voice and I should consider it. (She worked on Sailor Moon, so I took her word as gospel).
So, I did some auditions for a local commercial-creation start up and amassed a nice little demo. Like Alyson says, I learned a lot about my voice and the art of learning to speak with a mic on the fly, while in the booth. It’s not something you can really learn without actually speaking into a mic and hearing what you sound like, what the mic does to your voice, how to inflect and breathe and not pop your consents. And how to change your voice for every character – you may think you sound different each time, but listening back, you might find it’s not all that different at all. All of that requires practice with an actual mic. I practice with a crappy mic I picked up at the dollar store, so it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg for a practice mic.
As for the art of creating voices, one of the best workshops I ever did was with Roland Parliament , and it was a free one hour session at a FanExpo. He said: “Look at the character and think of what they’d sound like. Where and when are they from? Look at their teeth, their mouths, envision how that would feel to speak around. Don’t just do a funny voice – do the character’s voice.” It is advice that I use every single time, and it’s a beautiful starting point at which to marry technique with creativity and acting.
If there’s no character image, then I make up a little story in my head about who this person is and what they look like, even if I’m doing a commercial for, say, Fabricland. (The masters have been burned. You will never hear me singing that jingle again.)
Of all the sorts of acting I get to do, I love voice acting the most. Unfortunately I also find it the most competitive and difficult to get into. I’ve never had any luck landing an agent. Pounding the pavement is thankless and unless you have a thick skin, it can be a bit heartbreatking. I’ve taken a break from it for a while, until I have enough samples to build up a new demo.
Luckily, I seem to get a few opportunities a year through friends-of-friends or people who have heard me and call me up for a gig, or people who have me recommended to them.
I would still very much like to get an agent and try to do voice acting on a more full-time basis, but before I can do that I need to build a new demo reel and start pounding the pavement again. If there are any director/producer/agents out there reading this… hey! I’m available!
You can also look into other options, like VOX or the Audible program ACX for exposure and income. But you’ll need a really good home set up to participate in these services – a great mic, a very quiet space with zero ambient noise, an editing program, and patience. All of that can be had for relatively cheap, but have to be willing to put in some money and time.
Generally speaking, there are no shortcuts into voice acting. Either you work your way in via an agent, by doing your own productions like Welcome to Night Vale, through some of the other freelance voice acting sites, or through opportunities to be recommended to people like me.
Best of luck!
RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 23RD
A mini-anthology comprised of two fan favourites: “The Once and Now-ish King”, originally published in the ForeWord Book Of The Year award nominated When the Hero Comes Home, and “Maddening Science”, originally published in the ForeWord Book Of The Year nominated When the Villain Comes Home. Joining these stories is a brand new, never before released novellette: Just Another Four Letter Word.
From the Cover:
Good and Evil. Two sides of the same coin? Or something less defined, something more liminal? Entertaining and always thought-provoking, international award-winning author J.M. Frey offers three remarkable stories that explore the grey area of the hero/villain dichotomy in this debut short story collection.
Funny and irreverent, “The Once And Now-ish King” finds King Arthur reborn at the moment of Albion’s greatest need. Brand new and never before published, “Just A Four Letter Word” follows Jennet, descendant of mythic lovers Tam Lin and Margaret as she tries to navigate the dark legacy that the fairy tale has left to her. And finally, in “The Maddening Science”, a former supervillain is forced to return to crime to save the life of his stalker.
Heroes. Villains. Monsters. Fairy Tales. Myths. Legends. Who is the good guy, who the bad, and who gets to decide which is which?
After all, ‘hero’ is just another four letter word.