Tag Archives: Heroic fantasy

Audiobook Adventures Ch. 2: If at First

Last time I encouraged you to think about narrating your tales and extending your platform by creating audiobooks. Whenever you’re ready, here’s a little advice about the next steps.

The Tale is Yours

I won’t spend a lot of time talking about how you want to sound, whether this voice or that is better or if you should try on different tones for your characters. These are purely artistic choices–important sure, but who am I to say? The pace of your reading, whether you speed up or drop your voice, and a million other choices are in your hands, like it or not. Listen to what you’re recording– remember, we KNOW you don’t like the sound of your own voice, we covered that. Listen PAST that, think about whether this would be good to hear if you were hearing it for the first time. Other than that, I don’t think I could advise you.

But once you have a piece of it read into the machine, you’ll find yourself in exactly the same situation you were in that moment you finished writing the draft. You got there, wrote the final word, maybe capped it with “The End”.

But it wasn’t, was it?

You. Have. To. Edit.

And now that you’re reading the tale aloud? Same thing.

Editing the Recording

For those who came in late, I’m using the Audacity utility and a nice Pronomic mike to record and edit the second tale in my Shards of Light series entitled “Fencing Reputation”. I’ll record anywhere from a third of one chapter to the whole thing in an early-morning session lasting around an hour.

Look at the Squiggles. No Seriously, Look

Here’s a clip from what I’ve done:

 

The bigger, connected blobs are your voice speaking (or perhaps some other noise happening!) and the thinner, radio-wave squiggles over the center-line are “silence” (but really the background of your studio environment). Rather than another thousand words, let me mark it up for you:

Tips:

  • Don’t worry about making new tracks. You will have to stop, go back and listen, check your sound, etc. And when you come back to record more, the utility creates a new track. But that by itself doesn’t show on the recording.
  • Pause between sentences! Pause between paragraphs, pause for effect. It’s OK to pause! And if you listen to it and discover your pause was, um, too long (ham actors, I’m looking at you) (which means of course, that I’m also looking in a mirror), you can trim it.
  • When you are ready to restart recording, set the cursor with a click a little ways back into your previous track. Then when you hit Record, it will automatically start a new track, and that way 1) there isn’t an obvious “bump” or click between the end of the first track and the start of the new, and 2) you can time the pause better to continue reading just where you left off.

Useful Tools- Just Like Writing

Recording is so much like word processing I almost feel I shouldn’t tarry for these things. Please note as I write:

  • You can click with the mouse to place the cursor anywhere in your recording- just like your WiP
  • You can click-drag to highlight a section for cutting, copying or pasting- just like your WiP
  • You can also click to mark the start of a section, scroll over or down and Shift-Click to highlight a large area at once- and I’m not going to keep saying what this is like, capeesh?
  • Really, this utility is quite Intuitive. And let me emphasize where some of these important tools can be quickly accessed here before continuing:

But, I Mean, It Sucked

You don’t like how it sounded? Of course you can re-record it. There are two methods to use here and I heartily recommend the first one.

  1. By listening to yourself carefully and frequently as you go, you’ll get a good idea whether a take is a “keeper” or not, even as you read. You generally know when you’ve stumbled on a word. Or repeated, or stuttered, or said “s–t”. Take a pause (maybe say distinctly “trying again”) and then begin at the top of the paragraph or sentence. Then you can clip out the bad take rather easily and NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW!!! :: Insert evil laughter here ::
  2. If you somehow miss that this happened until long afterwards– such as when you are finalizing the recording for export– you’re in a bit of a tricky situation. Listen to the “bad” take several times. Then position the cursor maybe a sentence BEFORE what has to go, and hit Record. A new track appears, you listen to the run-up and then calmly read the same bit again right along with yourself. This can be a little unnerving, and you can always Undo, then Record again. Once you have a good second take, highlight that take, Copy it, then highlight the bad take on the track above and hit Paste. Bingo, the good take lays on top of the bad one and completely replaces it. If your new take was longer or shorter it’s fine because the track will bump up or down to fit. Then scroll down to the good-take track and delete the whole thing, you don’t need it anymore. Whew!

Those Darn Clicks

Here, quite honestly, is where I spend almost all my time actually editing a chapter. Little clicks and pops can show up whenever you cut or paste (especially if you’re not careful) and some are just spontaneous. Be sure to listen to the offending section a couple of times to be sure it wasn’t just a figment of your imagination

BTW, Important Point- whenever you click back into your track to listen to something again, you will very likely hear a click or pop, often quite loud. That pop does NOT ACTUALLY EXIST. More later.

As you give the chapter your first full “proofread” (proofhear?), you will likely notice some pop/clicks. I can’t give you a clear rule about what these sounds look like on your track, but you can definitely isolate them by highlighting a small section and playing it to check.

Again, I can’t tell what a click always looks like. But THIS, this here is ALWAYS going to produce a click:

It’s a question of that wave-line touching the center.

That’s the key.

That’s where the mystery-pop comes from when you click back to hear something again, you’re coming into the middle of a wave. But don’t worry about it. Now lining up one of those wavy-thin lines directly on center can be ridiculously tough. Here are some editing tricks I’ve learned that can help, in the order I usually try them.

Tip:

Remember that you can Zoom In on the track with Ctrl + 1 (zoom back out with Ctl + 3, and use Ctl +2 to return to “normal view”).

  • First Method: Half-Rests and Whole-Rests. See those rectangles that lie either just above or just below the line? In music, the top-box is called a half-rest, the lower one a whole-rest. Here endeth the music theory lesson, but the point is this. When you make a cut to get rid of a click, aim to cut from the middle of a “rest” to the middle of an identical rest. Get it? Either from a bottom-facing box to another bottom-facing box, or vice versa:

This works a high percentage of the time for me, the resulting cut plays through without a pop. But if it doesn’t work, if it creates two new pops, try:

  • Second Method: Pure Cut. This doesn’t work as often but it doesn’t take long. Once you’ve isolated the area of the pop, simply highlight it moving from a “space” to a “space”:

If the offending pop is in there, you can sometimes eliminate it and if you fail (creating a new pop) then you haven’t lost much time trying. Undo and try:

  • Third Method: Fade to Ssshh. This is the trickiest and creates a noticeable effect, but in a pinch it will work, especially if you’re taking a “beat” as actors say, a real pause for effect. Locate the pop as closely as you can. Highlight from before it to just after and click on Effect- Fade Out. Then highlight an area from just before the Fade Out ended to a spot close to your next speech, and click on Effect- Fade In. This will create a brief moment of silence but with the ambient noise fading then rising, almost like fade-to-black in a movie.

Slaying the Click-Dragon

As I said, when you’ve done this, including when you’ve realized there are one or two of these fershlugginer clicks you just can’t get rid of, then you will have a nice raw track of your chapter. I reserve the rest for another installment because effects and prep are either a) optional and/or b) lots of fun, or finally c) mandatory and not fun, but easy.

You are getting there! And so am I- as of this writing my files for The Ring and the Flag are accepted, my artwork has been revised and I’m just waiting for the new version to post. More news about that later this summer too.

Reading your tale aloud is the best proofread, and now it’s rehearsal too! Get on it.

Annie Lima’s Prince of Alasia: Interview with Prince Jaymin

Some of my readers may recall Ms. Lima, author of the Krillonian Chronicles among others, who herself barely escaped my author interview dungeon some time back. Completely unrepentant, she has continued her authoring ways and now is bringing forth a new series, The Annals of Alasia. I had the pleasure of reading The Nameless Soldier, which focuses on another character but in which Prince Jaymin makes an appearance. Here is an interview with Jaymin, to help celebrate the release of his novella in the Alasia series. Enjoy! And don’t forget to click on all the links below to find out more about Annie’s writing.

Interview with Prince Jaymin

I take a seat on the bench in the town square and wait for Prince Jaymin, who I have arranged to meet for an interview. It’s a cold, overcast winter afternoon here in the Alasian town of Drall, and the few townsfolk bustling around seem in a hurry to get home before it starts to snow.

Two boys emerge from the nearby marketplace and approach my bench. Both are dressed in tattered clothes and look cold and hungry, but the taller one manages to appear dignified in spite of his circumstances. His companion darts wary glances around as though checking the area for danger.

I rise to greet the prince as he arrives at my bench. “Your Highness, thank you for agreeing to meet with me.”

The other boy glares at me. “Don’t call him that out in public! Do you want to put him in even greater danger?”

But the young prince gives me a weary smile. “You’re welcome. Please call me Jay for now. No titles.” He glances at his friend. “Don’t worry, Erik. No one is close enough to overhear, and they won’t think anything of the three of us having a quiet conversation out here.” He turns back to me as we all take a seat. “Unfortunately, we have no better meeting place to offer. So, what did you want to ask me?”

Q: Your High- er, Jay, condolences of course on the loss of your parents. Can you tell us how it happened?

He lowers his gaze, obviously reliving an unpleasant memory. “The Malornians attacked our palace. Sir Edmend, one of my father’s advisors, managed to get Erik and me out. We barely avoided all the soldiers, but it wasn’t until we were entering the secret tunnel from the cellar that I realized why my parents weren’t with us.” He clears his throat and swallows hard.

Q: I’m sure you did not expect to be burdened with rulership so early in life. What thoughts guide you in these early days, and who has proven a trustworthy advisor?

“Well, I don’t know what I’d do without my friend and bodyguard Erik, here.” He indicates the other boy. “These last few weeks have been the first time I’ve ever gone anywhere or done anything without guards and servants, not to mention my parents. Sir Edmend got us safely out of the palace and the capital and found us a room to rent here where I could blend in with ordinary Alasians, but he couldn’t stay. While he’s off learning more about what happened and how we might be able to strike against the Malornians, Erik helps me figure out how to blend in and keeps me alive. We‘ve had several close calls with the soldiers stationed here in Drall.” He shudders. “I know they’re searching for me. But as challenging as life is here, one of the hardest parts is imagining what it will be like when – or if – I eventually reclaim my kingdom. I never imagined becoming king while still a boy, but if we manage to drive the enemy out, I’ll have to. I’ve always looked forward to the day the crown would be mine, of course, and yet I don’t feel anywhere close to ready. Alasia needs a strong ruler, especially after the Invasion, and my father left big shoes to fill.” He sighs.

Q: No one seems to know why Malorn attacked as it did. What can you tell us about the cause of the invasion?

“I have no idea.” Now Prince Jaymin looks angry. “We never did anything to harm Malorn. I mean, everyone knows about the occasional border skirmishes over the last few decades, but those have always been minor. They invaded our land with absolutely no provocation. None!”

Q: We hear reports that the Alasian army was ambushed and took heavy losses. What can you tell us about the plan to recover your kingdom?

“Well, we don’t have a full plan yet. Sir Edmend stopped by a week or so ago and reported that some of the soldiers did survive, which was a huge relief to hear. Apparently they’ve regrouped and are hiding in the Southern Woods, training and preparing to strike against the enemy. General Dirken is one of the survivors, so I know what’s left of the army is in good hands. I sent word to him through Sir Edmend that they should consider using the secret tunnel through which we escaped to attack the palace from the inside. That’s where the enemy has their headquarters. I’m not sure when they’ll be ready, but when the time comes, Sir Edmend is going to come and fetch me and take me to speak to the soldiers.” He smiles at the thought. “So far, only the general knows that I’m alive. I hope the troops will be excited to see me and relieved to know that a member of Alasia’s royal family is still alive after all. I plan to make an inspiring speech and perhaps give them even more drive to succeed.”

Erik glares at his friend. “You shouldn’t have told him all that. How do we know he isn’t working for the Malornians?”

“He doesn’t look or sound Malornian,” the prince protests. He turns to me. “I trust you’ll keep everything I’ve said in confidence.”

“You’ll regret it if you don’t,” the young bodyguard adds, rising to his feet. His tone is menacing, and now I notice the bulging muscles under his ragged tunic. “We should go,” he says to the prince.

His companion nods and stands as well. “It was a pleasure meeting you.”

I barely have a chance to thank him for his time before the prince and his bodyguard are out of earshot. I watch as they disappear into the marketplace once more.

The Annals of Alasia Series

Annie Douglass Lima plans four books in the set, in a technique I call “Surrounded Plot”, where you see the tale from separate PoVs. She tells me you can begin with any book in the series, as each one provides new information but also stands alone. I absolutely love that stuff! (My Shards of Light series is also Surrounded Plot, but only the first two books really stand alone, then the plot thickens too far). I encourage you to try out one or more of these tales, which have an air like the classic Lloyd Alexander Taran Wanderer books.

Check Out Prince of Alasia available now!

Twelve-year-old Prince Jaymin, heir to the throne of Alasia, barely escapes with his life when invaders from neighboring Malorn attack. Accompanied by his young bodyguard, Jaymin flees to a nearby town to live in hiding. There, surrounded by the enemy soldiers searching for the missing prince, his life depends on his ability to maintain his disguise.

As the danger intensifies and the Malornians’ suspicions grow, Jaymin seeks desperately for a way to save his kingdom and himself. Then he stumbles upon a startling discovery that will challenge his assumptions and forever change his view of Malorn and the events that altered his life.

Prince of Alasia is the first book in the Annals of Alasia, but the series can be read in any order, and each book can stand on its own.

Books by Annie Douglass Lima: