Monday, August 12, 2019

Creating the Bloody Walls Audio Book...a quick overview.


Welly, well, well, Hello Kiddies,

So I’ve written the book and published on Amazon. Besides promotion, what’s next? Why the audiobook of course.

Now, at first this idea seemed rather daunting. Would I need a narrator, a sound engineer, a competent programmer? Well, a little research was all it took to realize I was capable and you can be too, provided you have the necessary equipment. This equipment doesn’t have to be extreme studio quality, merely a laptop and microphone will do. However, better equipment means better quality and for the purpose of this overview, I will discuss what I am specifically using, which is substantially more, but should, in no way, shape or form, be a deterrent. There are countless ways to accomplish this and therefore, explore your needs.  Regardless, creating an audiobook is much easier than you think.

But, before we begin, ask yourself these questions.

Is your voice capable of a good narration?

Do you have a quiet place to record?

Are you tech savvy enough to follow the ACX format requirements?

If you answered yes to all three questions, by all means, read on. Note: for this project, I am using a Toshiba Satellite C75 Laptop.

My mixer...
Behringer Xenyx 1204 USB & Behringer HPS3000 Headphones
A while back I had been considering an internet radio show or podcast (and still am for that matter and am actively seeking a co-host) and the Behringer Xenyx 1204 USB, having more than enough inputs, was a great choice. But to create an audiobook, it is not really needed and using something basic through the microphone jack on the computer will more than likely suffice. After all, bass, treble and such can be adjusted during mastering. 

However, blocking out ambient sounds and hearing everything is of utmost important and therefore, good headphones are a requirement. I use the Behringer HPS3000.

My microphone...
Neewer NW 800 microphone
The microphone I'm using is the Neewer NW 800. It offers a deeper tone and great sound at any angle, but pointing it makes it better. But, it requires a phantom power supply and thus, will not work by simply adding an 1/8 inch adapter and plugging it into the computer mic jack. Regardless what microphone you choose to use, a screen will be needed to block typical voice and lips pronunciation poof or hiss sounds. P's are especially vulnerable to this.. 

My mixing interface software...
Voicemeeter Banana
Voicemeeter Banana is great open source mixing software that allows the ability to control various inputs. Configuration is relatively easy (once you get beyond the monopolizing sound program that came with the computer) and mine is configured with 2 microphones, a web based input and an auxiliary input. I have yet to explore all the features, but what I've used works perfect. Note: this is not required to create a basic audiobook, but depending upon equipment, some sort of interface is.

My sound recorder & editor...

Audacity audio recorder and editor
Now we're starting to get into the meat of it all, the audio recorder & editor. Audacity is free multi-platform (Windows & Mac) open source software that couldn't be easier to use. Simply use the dropdown menu to set the microphone, press record and start talking. After learning your way around, mastering will become second nature. Plenty of effects are also included, but for audiobook creation, most are not used.

However, there are two must have addons that are not included, but easy to incorporate and will make audiobook creation considerably easier.

Chris's Dynamic Compressor

Chris's Dynamic Compressor
plugin is a streamlined way to adjust the Noise Gate, Max Amplitude, Normalize and Compression Ratio. Ideal settings to meet the ACX audiobook format requirements are:


Noise Gate - 2
Max Amplitude - .95
Normalize -  -3 dbs
Compression Ratio - .85

Nyquest ACX check plugin indicating requirements met

Another is the ACX Check plugin. This verifies the audio file is ready for upload. 

As mentioned earlier, this is simply an overview of what I'm using and how I'm doing it. There are also other requirements such as format and sound consistency, having open and closing credits, etc... that need to be followed. These are discussed in detail on the ACX website and for anyone considering creating an audiobook, it is must reading. 



 Introducing the Crafting Horror Blog

On occasion I tend to craft, but this crafting is nowhere near pristine and pretty. I have built a Negan baseball bat, a Christine model car, an authentic "witch" broom and many other things. Currently, and probably forever, I am working on a rather dreadful dollhouse that will eventually include rooms having different horrors, and Halloween always finds me creating some type of creepy decor.

Sometimes these crafts are substantial. In order to discuss them in detail and avoid overloading Staying Scared, I've differentiated and created the Crafting Horror blog. While I'm still in the design phase, feel free to lurk by and maybe sign up for updates.



The Staying Scared Collector's Corner

With Night of the Living Dead being my all-time favorite horror movie, it only seemed natural that I would somehow end up with these autographs and proudly display them.

An original NOTLD poster signed by George Romero

Russ Streiner as Johnny

Judith O'Dea as Barbara
Kyra Schon as Karen
Tom Savini's FX career began with NOTLD


And so fellow ghouls, until next time, remember fear is a good thing!

Stay Scared,
Thomas aka Wee Willie Wicked



    

Sunday, August 4, 2019

OMG! I'm being extorted for an unsavory video, but the lottery I won will pay for it!

Welly, well, well...sometimes email makes me want to pull teeth,

Today the email said I was hacked, they said a virus was planted in my computer to take over my built in camera. They said if I didn’t give them $3k in bitcoin, they would release recorded video of me doing something unsavory. OMG! If they only knew. Unsavory? Ha, I'm either too sore or too stiff (no pun intended) or too tired or basically not up for it, if you get my drift.

But, all will be well. Why? Because I have won a lottery, somewhere, I think England because it was in pounds. And besides, if that doesn't work, I have the opportunity to share in a bounty of millions if I would simply aid in transferring it out of Zeblognougan, a third world country I don’t recall learning about in Geography class, I assume so problem solved.


I write fiction, scary fiction and yes, this is scary, but not fiction.

First off, phishing is just like fishing. One is real and one is in cyberspace. Both toss out lines hoping to catch a fish. There is the dinner kind and the money kind, usually the prelim for id theft kind. There is no other. So don’t believe there is a video of you they threaten to release, thus, embarrassing you, your family and such. They sometimes add that if an employer lays hands on it, it could mean termination.

The scariest part is that these fake emails look almost real.

What this email actually does is recruit the conscience to incorporate fear and doubt. Did you and your 'puter have a festive time? heh heh

Take the red pill, fall for the fake and you'll initially lose money and may even forever fight to regain your stolen identity.
or
You can press delete. Maybe appreciate the scare.

 Fisherman won't quit and believe me, phishermen won't either. Their tackle box is loaded with e-mail address lists and spoofing, making the email appear legit by distinguishing it with something familiar like an old user name or password, is the bait.

Either way, your email address is probably compromised. This is the exact reason to periodically change both. Using symbols add extra security too.

In this day and age, most spam folders, like a fast flowing stream, flush most phish away unseen. However, sometimes one sneaks in, usually an overly solemn and gloomy pleading for help email loaded with bad grammar and frequently misspelled words. NEVER click on any links inside these emails or better yet, just delete, stomp, crush, crumble, do whatever you must to get rid of the monster.
A Scary Public Service Announcement
That aging app raging social media owns all images…forever! Read the fine print. Scary Huh?
Staying Scared Craft Corner
Building the Horror Dollhouse requires more than just space.
Forget the hammer and all heavy power tools. It may look fearful, but delicate is the word.

The Tools
A Dremmel is a must!
Things are small and magnifiers help.
Various types of tape come in handy.
I use both Wood & Tacky Glue
Various grit sandpaper for smoothing rough edges & such
Various brushes are needed for painting and such.
Specialty Mags hold secret tricks & ideas
Staying Scared Collectible Corner
Owning a piece from Dawn of the Dead.



Trailer of the Week


My 238 page book, Bloody Walls - A Collection from a Fractured Mind is available in E-book ($0.99) and Print ($7.99).



And so, until next week Kiddies,
Fear is a good thing!
Stay Scared,

Thomas aka Wee Willie Wicked

Monday, July 29, 2019

Bloody Walls, A Horrific Dollhouse & A Book Review


Welly, well, well fellow ghouls, it’s been a rather long week of final edits, conversions and postings, writing blurbs and requesting reviews for my new book, Bloody Walls – A Collection from a Fractured Mind, a collection of prior published pieces with two unpublished pieces tossed in. It is also the only place to get the complete Interview with a Monster series (Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman, Phantom, Witch), a series of interviews treating each as actual living people.

There are eleven tales total, a how to for the zombie intent on having a family picnic, two in depth essays surrounding the reasoning for the wooden stake and silver bullet, a piece discussing the true origins of a few beloved Disney characters and more than a few holiday tales that are certain to scar.

Overall, at 236 pages and less than a buck, it’s a bargain that will have you cringing and chuckling, maybe at the same time. So far, two reviewers have committed (more on that later), and am hoping and suspecting more will follow. Thick skin, don’t fail me now!


And, besides updating the Thomas Scopel website, I’m once again knee deep in this Staying Scared blog. However, prior, flying by the seat of my pants, this blog often flew off on tangents, lacked focus, format and consistency, and that’s about to change. Yes, veins are being slashed wide open to refine the Staying Scared blog and although not yet fully fleshed out (ideas are welcome), graves are being dug and the cemetery is slowly taking shape.



The Staying Scared Blog has been recognized  and is now listed as one of the Top 100 Horror Blogs & Websites for Horror Fans by Feedspot.



The Horror Dollhouse Begins…

For some time now, and probably for some time to come, I have been constructing a dollhouse, but this is not the pristine and pure type…no no no, this is a demented, fully electrical dollhouse having specific rooms. Although I’m not telling all just yet, I will mention that the kitchen will make Hannibal proud and the bathroom will compare to SAW.

And so, with this project needing a home, Staying Scared is going to have a dedicated section with each posting. I have hundreds of pictures taken along the way and will explain and discuss various techniques and designs. But, instead of jumping in mid-build, I’m going to start at the very beginning, discuss along the way. Sure, the beginning won’t be all that scary, but it is a necessary evil in order to get to the gruesome aspects. Stay tuned my creeps, the tools are about to turn red.




Bentley Little is a writer the Stephen King say’s scares him, yet many, at least the ones I’ve spoken with, are surprisingly unfamiliar with his works. He has an uncanny knack of taking something perfectly normal and twisting it into something frightening. Below is my review of The Store, a tale that will immediately have you drawing comparisons to a specific big-box retailer.


The Store by Bentley Little

Off the beaten path, Juniper, Arizona, a quaint and quiet, close knit town has numerous mom and pop stores. Although most needs are met, not everything is available and, on occasion, shopping excursions to distant metropolises are essential.

Built on what was once the most scenic location in town, bland and windowless, The Store, due to its ability to offer nearly everything including jobs, is welcomed by most everyone, except Bill Davis, who views the venture as a despicable invasion.

On an evening jogging excursion past The Store, Bill peers in through the glass double door entrance and spies the almost robot-like evening stockers busy going about with the chore. However, these workers, with their black robes and pale white faces are anything but normal. Convinced of wickedness and to no avail, he addresses the city council, who, on every front, side with The Store.

At his rebuke, his two teenaged daughters obtain jobs at The Store anyway and before long, his eldest has deeply fallen under the influence of Mr. Lamb, The Store’s sadistic manager.

Unable to compete, the smaller shops begin closing as The Store indigenously streamlines products and offers buyouts to those remaining. Those who oppose mysteriously disappear and before long, The Store is the only merchant in town.

However, The Store has no intentions of stopping there and soon begins to employ the public servants, the city workers and the council too. At wits end, Bill takes drastic measures and embarks on a letter writing campaign aimed at the chain’s owner Newman King.

When King personally invites Bill to corporate headquarters, all expenses paid, Bill, intent on change, accepts. However, Bill is in for a demented and horrifying surprise. For The Store’s influence is strong; change is in order; and The Store is seeking a new manager.



The mail just ran and I'm suddenly booked for the rest of the day.


And so fellow fiends, lurk & creep & always remember fear is a good thing.
Stay Scared,

Thomas aka Wee Willie Wicked