Tag Archives: Lands of Hope

Sounds of the Season 3: Valenthur’s Tea

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.

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: Valenthur’s Tea

This is quite simply that part of the story where one guy is trying to have a civilized afternoon tea. But this is not England in the Alleged Real World, see, it’s an epic fantasy tale, so the adventurers crash the room with urgent requests to look at this book. This huge, old book that they open up on the nice table with all the tea things set in their perfect place. But now it all gets bumped out of the way, because book and clues and adventure. Right?

Here’s the sound, a bunch of tea things getting bumped out of the way to make room for a huge book:

How It Sounded

This is why my audiobook projects take so long sometimes. I mean, I already got swords being drawn, I got dragon roars and the sound of money changing hands. I’m ready to perform guys shouting in pain, saluting, stuff like that, no problem. But tea things? And it’s less than three seconds!

I searched up the following sounds:

  • “Calopa310” recorded ceramic-dishes (#186419)
  • “Soundmary” had clinking cups (#196679)
  • Finally, “Darkiron 98_01” named his effect platoschocando (#446326)

I took clips from each, altered the dead space between them in some cases, and laid the tracks in parallel.

Labor of love, in the dictionary- picture of me doing this.

How It Looks

Hah! I almost spent another hour trying to find the picture. But if I’ve been successful you can see it already, yes? Something like this from https://www.pxfuel.com/en/free-photo-erxvz:

Of course, it was a tome, not a magazine. So sue me.

I believe that the key to good FX is not just bombast or distraction, but also by that just-right sound, the one that goes almost unnoticed behind the narration of the host shouting “see here!” and all the rest. I’m hoping that if I do it right you’ll be immersed and find yourself enjoying the story even more.

Harbingers of Hope is out now in paper and e-book, and will be issued as an audiobook later this fall.

Audio from the Authors: Coming This Summer

I’ve asked some of my paying clients to relate their experiences in producing their tales as an audiobook. The first installment, if you missed it, is here. I hope this small series will encourage fellow authors to engage with a crucial market niche and win new customers. Listeners too may enjoy hearing about how the tale-tellers made their way to and through audio. As I bring one of their stories to your ears, here perhaps are more for your eyes.

Part the Second: Coming Projects

This post features two well experienced writers who have rashly signed contracts to employ me over the summer of 2021. I asked certain things in common to all my authors to help set their context. Following that, some questions about their unique journey and opinions.

Casi McLean, A Switch in Time: The President is Missing

When I saw this title in the Audible audition list I was drawn to it, but unsure. I read the author’s comments to my lovely wife (see below) and she practically insisted I try out. So glad I listened to her– good habits are the gift that keeps on giving.

When I secured this project I realized I was on a three month roll. Turns out, so is Casi.

Is the current title your first book? No.
How many titles have you published to date?

I have seventeen published and two collections. I’m currently working on three books and have one scheduled to release June 1st. All my books are available in eBook versions, and all are available in print except my short stories––they are available in a print collection. Most of my books are available or in production on Audible.

 Do you have a “Home” genre, or have you “played the field” in your writing?

I guess you could say I play the field, however my genres weave more of a web of interrelated intrigue––Mystery, Thrillers, Romantic Suspense, Time Slips and stories with a Supernatural Twist or a Ghostly Encounter… and always with a sprinkle of magic!

How many audiobooks have you issued before this collaboration?

Six and three in production, including my short story collection, which includes five stories.

Did you listen to audiobooks before you started writing? 

Definitely. I’m a very visual person and I love how audiobooks come alive on the  canvas of my mind. I actually listen more now that I’m a writer because my eyes get so tired from reading my own stories every day and staring at a computer, so I listen to stories to relax.


The audiobook will always require collaboration with the narrator, but your upcoming tale, A Switch in Time, found you collaborating over the authorship. Can you tell us a little about that creative process?

My mother, Eleanor LaRue, initially wrote a manuscript entitled “A Matter of Principle” in 1960, but she never had it published…she left the manuscript to me when she passed away in 1995 **BEFORE** I began writing. I found the story when I moved a few years ago and felt compelled to bring her story to life. Over the last two years, I updated, edited, tweaked, and added a time travel element for a contemporary spin, and I’m so thrilled to be able to bring her story to life.

When it came time to bring out the audiobook, you had more choices of business model than authors do with the e-book and paperback. How did you approach the alternatives (Royalty Share, RS Plus and Per Finished Hour), can you tell us a bit about your reasoning there?

That was a hard choice. Obviously, a Royalty Share costs nothing out pocket… and a Royalty Share Plus costs less up front than completely paying for the production myself. Up front, they both look like great deals.

But both limit my income in the long run, so monetarily, the decision to pay up front pinched my purse, but ultimately made more sense. More importantly, Royalty Shares limit my personal control over my work. If I share the cost, I give up some of my personal rights to my work.

My first two books were released through a publisher, so I had little input as to who would narrate my stories, and I have no choice but to share my profits with the publisher and the voice actor. I can never have full rights or profits for all my work on those two books, and I don’t like having no control over what I created. So, bottom line, I decided to self-publish all my books and pay up front for my voice productions if I possibly can.

Katharina Gerlach, Harbingers of Hope

Full disclosure- Cat is my publisher and a dear friend. She has been supportive of all my efforts since I started to think about self-publishing, and this most recent project is on a– pardon me– epic scale, and will keep me from idleness through most of the summer.

In a few words, she’s hiring me to record some of my own books.

I told you, a friend indeed.

Is the current title your first book? No (WLH Note: Oh HELL no!)
How many titles have you published to date? (WLH Note: Incoming…)

I am publishing my own books in two languages (without counting bundles): 14 novels, 13 novellas, 5 short story collections (English only), and 10 single/double short stories (mostly in both languages), 1 non-fiction (in English), the occasional anthology in English or German (10 books), and your books (8 titles). So that’s a total of 86 books (counting each language edition as one book) in paper and eBook format. Single short stories are eBook only. (WLH Note: What did I tell you!)

 Do you have a “Home” genre, or have you “played the field” in your writing?

My main genre is YA Fantasy but I’ve also dabbled in historical fiction and some soft Sci-Fi.

How many audiobooks have you issued before this collaboration?

One (it is a high cost endeavor).

Did you listen to audiobooks before you started writing? 

I’ve tried again and again to listen to audiobooks, but I fall asleep after just a short while regardless how exciting the story. I’m blaming that on being constantly overworked because as a child, I loved audiobooks and audio dramas.

As my publisher you have made all the important formatting decisions around how my tales publish. Judgement’s Tale and The Eye of Kog, already out in paper and e-book form, will now be combined into a single enormous opus with a new title and cover. As part of that, we’re doing an audiobook version. What is your schedule for the upcoming launch, including the various formats, and is that in line with other authors you have seen?

I’m trying to get the eBook and print book out at the same time because sales data suggest that if one lags behind by a significant time gap, it will not regain the sales it could have gotten right from the start. Also, the (in this case much, much) higher price point of the print showing up beside the lower eBook price often suggests to potential buyers that they’re getting a bargain.

For this book I’m aiming for a print/eBook-release roughly 2-3 months before the audiobook, so we can try to get at least some reviews up before the audio comes out. It’s pretty much in line with what’s been suggested by other authors.

You have rebranded other books, sometimes for language, or a new cover, or for the audiobook coming out. What’s your philosophy about relaunching titles in this way, and have you found that helps?

Relaunching titles has always been a way to renew interest. The big publishers do it, other Indies do it. When the Indie-world started in 2008/09, it was perfectly sufficient to slap a hand-drawn cover on your book and people would still look at the look-inside-feature to give it a chance. That has long changed. A great cover and gripping cover copy are just as, if not more important, than a great story. Releasing the Shards of Light series with the new (and much more genre appropriate) covers has increased the sales significantly.

When I took your books up, I was pretty certain that you’d get a handful of very dedicated fans but that I would have to wait for a very long time to get back my investment (at that point mostly time, and a little money for editing). When I changed the covers, I was surprised on how much better the sales were. We’re not yet in the green, but we’re getting closer with every month. I’m much more optimistic these days. Who knows, maybe the audiobook will generate new interest in your other books as well and bring new readers to the Shards of Light series. I certainly wouldn’t mind.

Many thanks, ladies, for sharing some valuable insights here. If you want to follow up with them, here are some links.

Casi McLean, author of A Switch in Time: The President is Missing…

Katharina Gerlach, producer of Will Hahn’s Harbingers of Hope (working title for previous novels Judgement’s Tale and The Eye of Kog)