Category Archives: audiobooks

Llamas and Crows–the Summer of 2022

It’s been awhile since I’ve had something to talk about on this blog–the gig economy has brought me the odd adventure here and there like Mystery Shopping or prep for a new class at school this fall. But on the tale-telling front, I’ve been deep in the throes of two very different projects this summer.

I mean, not sure how they could be any more different. A less foolish man would probably break this up into two posts, but I’m already begun so heck.

Crow Country is Coming Soon

I was very excited to win an audiobook project on a new platform, this time Upwork. There’s a whole ‘nother post about trying to hang your shingle away from Audible. Please don’t tell them I’m sneaking around! Actually, matters on Audible seem to have dried up rather radically in recent months, so getting this job was a boon.

And what a story! Crow Country is near-future dystopian and without giving away too much, let me just say that the crows are not the heroes of the story. Themes of the Wild West, a bit of sci-fi/fantasy, hopeless love and some of the most gruesome fights and descriptions I’ve ever been given are peppered through this tale. But nothing really defines it. The prose is just fabulous, set in an area the young author knows well but taking a flight of imagination I would never have credited possible at any age.

Revisions and Other Heroic Deeds

The voices and FX were a challenge as usual; but the FEEDBACK. Both the author and publisher had detailed input to every chapter I posted. I began to establish a rhythm in my daily recordings–look at punch-in requests from yesterday, record a new chapter or two, then upstairs to polish the first and produce the second. Hang them up for feedback, check for new input, make notes, etc. It’s a big novel with thirty-plus chapters and there was traveling (plus involuntary snoozing, more about apnea later) scattered all over the weeks. My point–I began to get into the routine of narration, like I always pictured it being, the actual daily work.

Crowing About the Outcome!

And I loved it. Like I thought I would, but in a way I’ve seldom experienced. The work is still occasional, and my recent authors have generally been quite happy with my first attempts. I knew deep down I wasn’t getting a real test of how I could do at this. For that you need feedback.

And I got it in spades this time around. Good, constructive notes, praise, requests for revision sure, but also just questions, discussion. A couple times I mentioned why I had tried this echo or that sound, and they went back, listened again, changed their minds. Other times I did, and gladly.

I’m as proud of this work as any I’ve done and I can’t wait for you to hear it. But we have to wait. For reasons that are super-cool, Crow Country will be released on October 9th. If you like to take it in with your eyes, you can preorder on Amazon now. I’ll update this post with the audio link whenever it becomes available.

It’s grim, it’s gritty and it’s really well written.

Not for children.

My Other Project- a Children’s Book!

I was also contacted by Christian children’s author Janet Ashmore, who has the first of a series of books out now, entitled Larry the Llama Learns About Love. I knew her through working for her husband David for whom I had narrated several police procedurals. Janet was hoping I could give her some advice about how to take her text and pictures into some kind of read-along format. And I thought to myself “well, you narrate audiobooks, and you watched your daughter win Superior awards reading children’s literature, and you know a thing or three about animating PowerPoint”. So I said, “give me a crack at it and see if you like the result”.

And she did. And did! It’s on YouTube and I’ll embed it here, about 9 minutes. Totally free in this format!

I had more fun than I can tell you, playing with various animations and always trying to recall how it would be for a young person to listen to Genna reading so sincerely and with such spirit. I believe the job called for a variety of skills, which I happened to have, and thus again I was quite proud to think I could work in this way. If you’d like your own hardback copy of the story, you can find it here. It’s in e-book and paperback too.

All in All

I won’t say there weren’t moments when I felt a little dizzy, gyring between these two projects. But variety probably helped much more than it hurt, and hey, gig income is never unwelcome. I’ll be back at school in two weeks, so it’s the perfect time to wrap and announce these two very different jobs as I begin to plan opening day presentations and dust off my dress shoes.

That’s what I did this summer: I answered the question “what could possibly be the same about a crow and a llama”.

 

Sounds of the Season 7: Play On!

Because Sometimes Only Hearing is Believing

I’m featuring sounds from my recent audiobook projects, just for fun, and I hope that this feature of my narration work will resonate with authors and listeners. Here are some of the others. This will be the final entry for now, as I think I’ve accomplished my goal.

Many times my FX are drawn from a marvelous website called Freesound.org.  I cut, slice and alter them using effects found in the Audacity tool (also free to download and use). Sometimes I create the sound myself, using my voice or things to hand.

Featured Sound: “Gente Theme Music”

Audible/ACX actively discourages you from putting music into the audiobook. I get it– the copyright issues are a potential nightmare. Fortunately I’ve spent time around music all my life, and even more fortunately, my miracle daughter is quite simply one of the most talented musicians (along with my lovely wife) I’ve ever known.

As Gilbert Stack’s Legionnaire series brought him into the Jeweled Hills I could see a need to distinguish between the three, count ’em, three feuding cultures he was plunged among. The Gente were clearly reminiscent of aspects of Hispanic culture: passionate, cultured, short-tempered in matters of honor. I checked with Gil of course and he enthusiastically supported my efforts. So I searched for some kind of “theme music” that fit the criteria I had:

  1. Conjured an image of the Hispanic culture
  2. Was legal for me to use

I did not have to search far. Genna was just preparing a piece for her recital, where she played the flute along with David Bozenhard who played Spanish guitar!

Here’s the sound, “Theme of the Gente” (actually Entre Act by Jacques Ibert). It’s worth hearing the whole thing (less than three and a half minutes):

How It Sounded

There are several passages here that I’ve excerpted to introduce a setting such as the house of a Don or a conversation between Gente officers. The key with music is the rights, as I said. Since this piece was composed more than a century ago, the rights to any digital performance (this recording was made for my daughter’s recital) lies with the musicians. I obtained their kind permission and off we go.

How It Looks

The Gente people live in a hilly, cut-up region of the world which creates a series of smaller city-states somewhat like the squabbling neighbors of ancient Greece. I picture the hills of California in the days of Zorro. The Mask of Zorro is one of the most entertaining of all the versions in my opinion.

You can hear this music starting with Book 3 of the Legionnaire series available on Audible. If you read the books on Amazon, you’ll just have to imagine the music.

Remember, with audiobooks only hearing is believing!