Well, Guys, Theater 13 Radio is Off the Air

When I was thirteen I used to listen to a black and white transistor radio tucked under my pillow. One night I found a Chicago station and heardWhen I was young finding Old Time Radio was a way for me to head into the light....  The CBS Radio Mystery Theater hosted by E.G. Marshall.

Just like that I was hooked. I fell in love with radio dramas and wanted to hear more.

Popular for its time, CBSRMT was a modern program aired by CBS during the late 70s and early 80s and produced by Himan Brown. It was an attempt to recapture the magic of Old Time Radio. When we moved from Illinois I always made it a point to find a station that aired this program so I could continue listening, and I would often ask my grandparents what they remembered of OTR.

As an adult I discovered real OTR, old time radio, and its fans. I began to collect and research these old programs and listen to them whenever I could. As a professional writer I saw the intrinsic value of these radio shows beyond their nostalgic worth. I knew I could learn a lot from these programs on how to write a tight cohesive story, and I did.

I had fun running the station for two years, but it got difficult to maintain. We don’t have the best Internet around so I always had to worry whether we were streaming or not. Sometimes the electricity went off at night, a regular occurrance here in Dallas. So I had to restart the computer and more often than not go into the server and restart that.

It got too difficult to maintain. I was always worried I wasn’t providing the promised service I wanted to provide. Sure, the Internet station was free for listeners, but even so that shouldn’t mean they had to put up with spotty service.

I think we did well given the fact a lot of people said they liked it and enjoyed it, but the service didn’t live up to my standards.These were because of things outside my control (Internet, electricity, servers down) but that didn’t mean I wasn’t concerned and bothered by it.

So, the Internet station is off the air. I am going to miss it. I am not going to miss worrying whether we would stay on the air when a thunderstorm came through or why the computer shut down during the night or why everything appeared to be working correctly but we couldn’t connect to the server.

So we are off the air and the website and the servers are shut down. But the memories will remain. 😦


Mistress Zarella welcomes you to Theater 13 Radio....


Setting Aside Ego for the Benefit of Story

A writer friend of mine, Paula C. Brown, asked how I go about writing notes for a novel. She wanted to know the method I use because Writing is mostly mental,not physical. Work on that part more than the other and you will be successful.she was having a little trouble getting focused.

This is a problem I run into myself when it comes to finding focus and generating ideas. I don’t have a secret recipe or magic key. Mostly I try and ignore it and hope the problem goes away.

This rarely works, as you might suspect. So I do try some of the same exercises each time. They usually do work. Or at least they work for me. Every writer goes about this game differently. I’m only going to relate what works for me.

When I start a story, or more specifically a novel, I make a brief outline. And by brief I mean brief.  I hand write out quotes, bits of dialog, ideas, characterizations, and research notes on a yellow legal pad. I almost always kick-start this process by coming up with names for the characters. If I can give a character a name I can visualize him better and imagine what types of situations he might find himself in. The story outline will then unfold from that initial process.

One of the reasons I do minimal outlining is I like the freedom it gives me. I knew a writer who made extensive notes on 3×5 cards, even to the point of working out the genealogy of characters who would never appear in the story. This worked for him. That would never work for me. I would find it too restrictive.

I like having a general direction, but nothing more than that. I have a theme I start with on, and everything else, names, scenes, plot, spirals out from that.

So that’s how I do it. Nothing special as you can see. I have a beginning, middle, and ending, but it’s always sort of hazy and I am not above changing everything if I believe it will benefit the story.

I’m not locked into anything when I write a story. I always put my ego aside. I do what is best for the story.

I admit working this way might be viewed as difficult for some. There are writers who want a lot more structure before they begin. But I have structure. It’s a bit hazy, like I said, but it exists. I simply do not set down every little jot before I begin. I have a direction, but the journey I take to get to the end….that’s a process I prefer remains organic.

Even as I work deeper into the novel I keep writing down ideas and notes as they come to me, and as I do more research. I may change names, settings, ideas, but the one thing I almost never change is the original theme.

More than anything else the theme is the first “idea” that comes to me. Everything else spirals outward from that.

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