Well, I seem to have the whole posting by email straightened out. At
first glance, it didn’t seem like something that I needed for my site
to do, but I’ve recently come upon several uses for it. For instance,
I can now post from my cellphone to my website, which is useful in
those cases when I’m stuck in the airport without wifi. Handy, yes?
I also always pasted stories into gmail to convert them to plain text
before copying and pasting them to the website. Now, I can just paste
them in here and post straight away. Such convenience! Granted, it
took me half an hour to figure out why it wasn’t working, but now, now
all is golden and glorious.
I think. I’m about to hit “send” and see if it all really works.
Once on Prarie Home Companion, Garrison Keilor said that Minnesota had two seasons, Winter and Road Construction. We are clearly in the latter. We left on time but are moving over level ground as if the van is struggling up a hill.
While, Rob is filling the truck up with the $100 of diesel that we put in twice a day, I’m checking email and filling you guys in on where we are. Lovely, eh? Oh, and I checked the rating of my blog. You’ll be happy to know that it’s safe for families despite my conversations about beavers and long stiff rods.
When Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press asked me to read Kage Baker’s Rude Mechanicals, I was delighted, because I love the Company stories. I was delighted until I started reading the manuscript and realized that the point of view character was male. I skimmed forward, just looking at dialogue. Most of the characters were male.
I don’t mind doing some cross-gender voicing, but generally avoid it with the POV character, because I think it is confusing for most listeners. I agonized and then emailed Bill and told him that I thought he should hire a male voice artist, because that would serve the story better. He disagreed, and since I really wanted to read it, not much arm twisting was needed.
As I read the entire manuscript, instead of skimming, I realized why he wanted a female narrator. Ms. Baker uses direct address to the audience in a couple of places, so while the narrator stays with Lewis, it is clearly a separate narrative voice as opposed to an extension of Lewis. Know what I mean? So choice number one, was to have a female narrator.
This left me the freedom to pitch the narrator up, above my natural speaking voice. I also chose to make it very feminine to contrast with all the boys running around.
For Lewis and Joseph’s voices, I ran into some trouble. Joseph has more speaking time in some scenes than the narrator. Now, in the stories, Joseph is described as a bass baritone. Clearly, I wasn’t going to achieve that naturally, so we had to look at compromises.
Lewis was the less vocally dynamic of the two, so placing him at the bottom end of my range was easy; I didn’t need a lot of room to hit his emotional levels since he’s a steadier character. Joseph, our bass, on the other hand is very volatile and he talks a lot. I found that I could either nail the character or the pitch, but not both. When I pitched him down, he wound up sounding angry and dangerous, because of the audible effort involved in keeping my voice low. It doesn’t sound strained as if I were going to hurt myself, but the strain is nevertheless present as a tension that was inappropriate to the character. Most troubling, he wasn’t funny. Joseph is very funny in Ms. Baker’s story.
So after recording a test chapter with a lower Joseph, we decided to go back to the higher one because, aside from the pitch, that voicing was truer to the character.
It is true that we could have pitch-shifted my voice to get it to the right range. The software to do that now is good enough that if the voice is heard out of context, it’ll pass as real. However, in the context of the other voices I was generating, the pitch shift was obvious. Why? Because there’s this thing your brain does with a familiar voice, called psycho-acoustics, which basically waves a flag saying “Wrong! Something is wrong!” It’s a complex series of things that involve overtones, positioning, and other technical things that you have no idea that you are processing, you just know that it’s wrong.
To demonstrate, I have three clips for you.
The final Joseph choice.
Me, lowering Joseph naturally.
Joseph, pitch-shifted down 10% from the first clip.
See, even down 10% he doesn’t sound like a bass, but he sounds weird. The weirdness is even more apparent if it’s in the context of an entire chapter of natural voices.
The pitch-shifted Joseph, in context.
With all the other voices that are obviously generated by me, pitch-shifted Joseph sounds like someone else and is jarring. Given those choices, we went with the first voicing, feeling that the characterization was stronger there.
At some point, in a reading, you’ll probably have to face a similar choice and I think that you should go for the voice which will give you the most emotional range and be truest to the personality, even if you have to sacrifice some of the physicality.
I had forgotten that one of my favorite cousins was getting married this weekend. I landed safely and on time, went by the house, showered and went to a wedding. (I had wanted to attend, but was afraid to make plans because of our ever fluctuating move date.) It was a lovely ceremony and they are so clearly deeply in love that I got all weepy.
Coming back to the house, it was so clear that being here for the funeral tomorrow was the right decision. These people, my family, are all wonderful and funny. We can’t help laughing when we get together. I helped put the program for the service together today and as part of it pulled out a picture of Walter that was taken right before he shipped out for WWII. Such a handsome young man. Then, of course, because I was going through the box of photos, I also had to pull out his old v-mail letters to my grandmother. Those were wonderful to go through and read as a group.
Thank you to everyone who expressed their support. It meant a lot to me to open my email en route and see your notes.
So, I’ve added two new things to the website, plus some back end and minor revamping. First, you might notice little “Share This” buttons at the bottom of posts. These are for those of you who use things like technorati or like to email articles to other folks. I think they are fairly self explanatory once you click on them.
The other is that I can now group posts in a series, for instance, my Shades of Milk and Honey posts are all collected together now. At the end of each chapter, you’ll see a table of contents showing all the other chapters. Handy, eh? (By the way, While I was at it, I un-protected the first three chapters. If you want to read the rest, it’s not too late to ask me for the password.)
Are there any other things that you really wish the site had or did?
I woke up during the night with a toothache, which was Just Not Fair. At all. I tried sleeping anyway, I tried taking ibuprofen. Nada. In fact, it got worse, radiating through my ear and sending shafts of steel straight through my brain and out the top of my head. Visions of root canal opened in my head.
So, I got up around four and called my dentist’s office, leaving a fairly pathetic voicemail asking them to call me when they got in and make the pain go away.
At 8:05, five minutes after they opened, Angela called and sounded so sympathetic on the phone that I knew I was doomed. They got me in with an immediate appointment. Definitely doomed.
I walked in and apologized for being ill and the technician’s eyes lit up. “Sinuses?” she said.
I nodded, “And a cough. Sorry about that.”
“I have three kids, it’s not a problem.” She went to the computer screen. “So tell me what’s going on.”
“Well, about three days ago, I woke up and my jaw hurt. I thought ‘Jeez, have I been clenching my jaw.’ But then last night it got worse and woke me up.” I proceeded to describe those symptoms. “It hasn’t been as bad since I got up.”
“But the pain medication didn’t do anything?”
“It kept getting worse.”
“Let’s get an x-ray and see what’s going on there.”
She worked really fast, remembering that I have a hair-trigger gag reflex, and got the image up on their nifty computer screen. Then the doctor came in. She was quickly caught up on my symptoms and then looked at the x-ray.
“See that thin white line dipping down across the roots of your teeth?” When I nodded, she continued. “That’s your sinus cavity. It’s pressing down on your nerves. We’ll go ahead and test to make sure that it’s not a dental issue, but I think you’re looking at a sinus infection.”
She poked, prodded, stuck cold things on my teeth and everything was normal. Yay! No root canal. (By the way, thank you to Angela and Brandi at Laurelhurst Dentistry who sent me my xray.)
So then I trotted off to the doctor and repeated my symptoms. He shook his head, “I am exactly the right doctor for you to see because I am three weeks ahead of you with these symptoms. So I know that the first line antibiotic does nothing on this particular strain. Which means that you don’t have to spend five days wondering why you aren’t getting any better. What you have is the flu that’s going around plus a secondary infection.”
I somehow got to this point in my life without ever having had a sinus infection, ear ache or toothache. At the moment it feels like I have all of them.
I now have antibiotics. I’m armed with the knowledge that lying down will make the pain worse. That part of the symptoms with this is that it doesn’t respond to pain medicine, so I won’t bother trying. And, that the antibiotics will have no affect the flu portion of the illness, but in a couple of days my head won’t hurt.
The important thing is that I don’t have to have a root canal. On the whole, that alone makes it a good day.
I’m emptying my basement. I have loads of stuff that aren’t going with us to NYC. If you are in the Portland, OR area and are willing to come pick things up, you can score on foam, ribbons, fabric, glue and lumber. Email me and I’ll give you my contact info.
I also have several boxes of marionettes that I inherited from an older puppeteer and I can’t take them with me. These are in various stages of completion. Some of the boxes are only parts. Many of the marionettes need to be restrung
I can’t bring myself to throw them in the trash.
These are good for an older child’s toys, beginners and collectors.
What a fantastic way to start off 2007. Patrick Swenson just emailed me to say that he’d like to buy “Death Comes but Twice” for issue #35 of Talebones. I’m delighted. Talebones is one of my favorite magazines and I’ve been hankering to get in there.
Three people today have sent me emails saying that they hope I’m surviving the rain and storms. It’s sunny with blue skies today, and only scattered clouds. So, I’m fine. No problems to report here, no matter what the news agencies tell you.
So, it took me about forty-five minutes to create the intial Save Apex website. And then I have spent the rest of the day inputting the donations. I mean, really. They keep coming in. It astounds me.
I had a total fan-girl moment when the signed, hardback first-edition copy of the Sparrow came in. When someone asks me to recommend a book, it’s usually that one. Love it a lot. And I also exchanged emails with Dr. Ben Bova. Um. Hello. I mean, the email only came to me because he donated a copy-edited manuscript of Titan. But still! Ben Bova in my inbox.
When I opened the raffle this morning, I had ten items on the board, with five others promised. There are forty now. Forty!
Oh yeah, I also worked on the bear and did some editing. Busy day.
Well. If you usually use my ohp address to contact me, you might have noticed that I’ve been silent for a while. edatarack.com has taken my company website offline without telling me. I don’t know how long it’s been down because I don’t go look at it every day and the email normally forwards into another account. Needless to say, I am frustrated and angry.
Update: I wrote to the billing department and got this response.
Your account no longer pinged to our network and your account expiration date was 9-21-06. The account was removed from our server due to 1-week of consistent network inactivity.
I donâ€™t know what they mean that it no longer pinged to their network. Itâ€™s still got edatarack listed as the nameservers. And it apparently went away weeks before the end date. Whatâ€™s up with that? I wrote to ask.
What do you mean it no longer pinged to your network? I hadn’t moved it. Whois still shows edatarack as the name servers. When was it removed?
edatarack wrote back:
I really could not say.
And yes. That is the entirity of the message. My jaw dropped when I read it. I mean, it’s so blatantly rude and don’t give a shit. If they had any hope of keeping my business, they just lost it.
I’ve written back, but don’t expect a civil answer:
Excuse me? You wrote “Your account no longer pinged to our network and your account expiration date was 9-21-06. The account was removed from our server due to 1-week of consistent network inactivity.”
I would like that to be clarified. I do not understand “pinged.”
When was it removed?
Update: I have moved the website to bluehost and email is working again. It may take twenty-four hours for the website to show up in your neck of the woods.
Gmail has this wonderful feature which shows the first line of an email next to the subject line. This evening I was checking my email and saw something from CICADA (a highly prestigious, professional magazine) which said:
Dear Ms. Kowal: I’m drafting an acceptance letter for “This Little Pig” and w
In a state of excitement I clicked on it to see what came after the “w” but gmail gave me an error message and said it couldn’t perform that function and to try again in a few seconds. I did. It gave me the same error message. By this point I am about ready to gnaw on the keyboard, but still can’t see more than that tantalizing first line. I wait.
I wait some more.
Finally, I realize that there’s a chance that the email went to my Other Hand Productions email address, which forwards to gmail, so I go to that mail box. Behold! There is the email.
Dear Ms. Kowal:
I’m drafting an acceptance letter for “This Little Pig” and want to verify your address. Your ms shows Portland, Oregon, while your SASE has Chattanooga, Tennessee. Which one is your current mailing address?
I’ll look forward to hearing from you!
Executive Editor, CRICKET and CICADA
While this isn’t an actual official acceptance, it’s close enough for me to do all kinds of happy dances. I told her that both addresses forward to Reykjavik.
My throat is still sore, but I think the fever broke during the night. Rob has been very sweet and kept me well supplied with fluids.
Dad keeps asking me if I feel better. I think I do, but yesterday was so miserable because of the drive from North Carolina that it’s hard to tell if I’m actually healthier. I’m hoping so, since there’s that plane flight to Iceland on Sunday.
I did get to my friends in Greensboro yesterday. I sent Mr. Fisher an email to let him know that I was sick and likely contaigous, but he graciously accepted the risk. We had a delightful time visiting and I even got to meet his family, all of whom are very nice. We’ve had an email correspondence for several years now, begun on the Hatrack Writers’ Forum, but this is the first time we’ve met in person. I’m pleased to report that he’s as nice in real life as he is online.
(Tor Books – July 14 2020) Mary Robinette Kowal continues her Hugo and Nebula award-winning Lady Astronaut series, following The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky, with The Relentless Moon. The Earth is coming to the boiling point as the climate disaster of the Meteor strike becomes more and more clear, but the political situation is already overheated. Riots and […]