Music From Zell

…and now, for something completely different. We are indeed living in “interesting” and troubling times. It’s sad, but sometimes we have to admit we can’t fix everything and everyone. We have to let go.

I wrote this song shortly after finishing the narration for my novel, Running Cold. Something about that particular story, the hurricane down south, and the events swirling around us…I’m not sure, but I had to take some time from the book I’m working on now to just sing.

Take care out there.

Running Cold is Heard!

RC-ACX…or, at least it CAN be heard on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes!  Running Cold is a true labor of love for me. It goes back to the era of my childhood, the 60’s, and a town in Southern California very much like Del Mar, where I spent many summer vacations at my grandmother’s house. More than that, this story of discovery, loss, and growing up…different, is one of my favorites.

Music shaped the culture of the 60’s as much as it reflected it, and I’ve tried to capture that in Running Cold.

It was, of course, a different time then – by today’s standards an innocent time – where you could still believe in magic and monsters and you didn’t rely on Computer Generated imagery from Hollywood to make them real. Nothing against CGI – I spent what I consider the best part of my “real job” life working as an animator and digital animation tools instructor. But long before CGI came to be, we used imagination alone to create that space between day-to-day and the unknown, and I believe we were, in many ways, richer for the experience.

Now that you can find it in e-book, print, and audio – I hope you’ll find your favorite medium, sit back and prepare for another wild ride!

  • Steve

 

Paperback! (…and more…)

Waaaaayyyy back when, at the time WiZrD came out – there were basically two formats for novels – hardcover and paperback. Even at that, there were actually four slightly different versions of WiZrD – the North American hardcover and paperback, published by St. Martin’s Press, and the UK hardcover and paperback, published by Hodder|Headline. The NA paperback was actually released as YA (Young Adult) which meant it had to be re-edited for that audience since the original hardcover was most definitely adult (long story), and both UK versions were also adult. Then…there were a few shots at screenplays… The process for all versions was print or hardcopy – with each editor making their notations with a different color ballpoint pen. That was 1994.

Enter “e” and “audio” books. Wow! Between Kindle and NOOKbook, and…garden variety e-books, the formats, necessary tools, and production vary just enough to lose hair over. Narration for audiobooks comes with completely different challenges. The great thing about all of this for a writer is that, if you boldly accept the challenge of constantly learning – you can reach a much wider audience (potentially) than ever before.

But – even with “e” and “audio” there is something really nice about being able to hold a book in your hand and read it without earbuds.

Very happy to have the paperback complete and available!!! Have a look on barnesandnoble and, of course, amazon, (which actually has brick and mortar bookstores now…imagine that) and grab a handful of Urban Limit!

All the best,

Steve

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Urban Limit, We Have Audio!!!

Well, that wasn’t easy… “Sure, narrate your own book, you like acting…it’ll be fun!” Nine hours of recorded audio later… Geez, it’s tough! Glad I did it though. Special thanks to my friend, Neil Shah, who is an amazing voice talent and narrator, for his advice and support! Check out  his great work on The Hundred-Foot Journey, or any number of audio books.

Having survived the experience I’d have to say that it was a good one, although a little odd. I hear my characters talking when I write…and I don’t sound like them. That was unnerving; eventually I got over it. Have a listen when you get a chance! The audio book is available right there on Amazon next to the Urban Limit e-book, also directly through Audible, and iTunes. Have a listen to a sample on the home page of TalesFromZell when you get a chance and let me know what you think!  After a little vocal rest, Running Cold, is next…

Cover Images & Marketing

Along with recording the audio version of Urban Limit, I’ve been doing a bit of market testing with cover images. I’ve been told that showing “fangs or guns” on your cover is a sure way to limit sales. But…being a kid who told jokes during mass, laughed in confession, and tended to argue with teachers…I tend to test things.  So far I’ve found showing fangs works okay (maybe they don’t in the context of vampire books, I don’t know that yet…), but…showing an image of one of your main characters with a rifle (even if it’s an Olympic competition rifle), is a bit of a turn off. Okay. I’ll keep testing…swords are next 🙂

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Urban Limit cover potential readers don’t seem to like…

Audio versions…Aaaaiiieee!!!

Yep, an audio version of Urban Limit is on the way. Man – what a dork I am! Listened to my first pass at Chapter 1, canned it – and started over. It’s funny to me – maybe not to anyone else – but I hear my characters when I write a book – they don’t sound like me.

When WiZrD came out, I had my first experience with “readings” at book signings. I was shocked. What, people want me to read my book out loud???  I never intended anything I wrote to be read out loud. The cool thing about fiction is folks mostly paint the characters (and their voices) themselves and turn them into characters they already know. But…here I am. It’s a brave new world. God, Zeus, whoever,…help me.

Luckily, I’m in Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA. Volunteered at the food bank with my SAG|AFTRA buddies a week ago and Neil Shah, who narrates audio books for a living, has offered to help!  Crap…do I ever need it!

Novel ideas…are they novel???

ZellPicNothing new under the sun?  If you’ve written fiction, you’ve likely been asked where your ideas come from. I’ve been asked the question several times and my internal response is akin to the feeling I get  every time I poke my head into our attic and see all those heaps of unrelated crap lying around.  Who knows? Eventually our mind’s eye focuses on something – or connects seemingly unrelated somethings – and an idea forms. When I can’t get rid of that idea, that connection, that’s when I start writing. But that’s just me.

Are those ideas novel, or new? I’m not sure they are – but I think the important thing is to paint them in a new way. Or, at least, an interesting way.  The idea(s) for Urban Limit came from my daughter, Vicki, who lettered in 4 sports in high school, but who always destroyed me in video games – and from Oregon itself, which is an undeniably beautiful wilderness that can quickly become absolutely deadly in minutes. The need to connect those more or less unrelated things stuck with me until the novel began to form.

I’ve always been fascinated with the different ways people learn. I’m pretty visual – I really like to “see” things and then physically do them. My dad learned to golf by reading books and he’s great at it. The US Army, has it’s own video game that is not only fun to play, it’s a recruiting tool and, in many ways, a training aid.  Seems crazy doesn’t it?

So the real “idea” behind Urban Limit is how, because of the different ways people learn, people are able to approach an extremely deadly reality in their own way. In this case – one from the practical, physical training side (pentathletes & biathletes like Kristi Carroll train through physical games and competitions which are really preparations for war), and the other from learning strategy and battle techniques through playing Massively Multiplayer Online Games. In Urban Limit, the real and online worlds merge.

But is the idea of merging online and real worlds new?  Naw. Neal Stephenson did it in Snow Crash way back in 1992 – before online gaming was ANYTHING like it has become.