Category: About Writing



5 out of 5 stars
06-25-20
OVERALL – 5 Stars
PERFORMANCE – 5 Stars
STORY – 5 Stars
 

 

Good plot with smart characters

Nice to have a story that isn’t based on the inattention or inability of the protagonists. Please continue releasing the series!
 
 

                                

And so it has finally happened, after months and months of researching how to make an audiobook, getting the equipment, rehearsing, learning how to control one’s voice for quality, pacing yourself, being sure of clarity when you speak, consistency in volume, learning how to edit the recordings and meet ACX’s requirements, and finally getting your work made available on Audible. This in and of itself is a huge achievement. But no one tells you about what comes next…

Waiting to see the audience’s reaction to your work.

I don’t mind telling you all that I was a nervous wreck. It’s one thing to have friends, family telling you that it sounded good to them. But what about strangers, people who listen to Audible books all the time who have become ‘experts’ on how an audiobook should sound and make them feel? That is the moment of truth for any voice actor. So seeing this review sent my spirits soaring. I’m still well past the moon and coming close to Mars… ooo, I think I can see the Mars Rover’s from here. Thank goodness their not aiming up with their cameras, God only knows what the techs down at mission control would think.

Now, I just want to say a few things about reviews over on Audible. As you can see in the top of this post, Audible has not just one but three review criteria, allowing the reviewer to cover not just the story but other aspects of the audiobook, including Performance. This of course is the big one for voice actor/actresses. Seeing what the listener thought of how good a job I did narrating/performing the piece meant the world to me.

Now, I’ve listened to a number of audiobooks, many done by professionals like Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir Derek Jacobi, James Marsters, as well as others whose names I had never heard before. And many of them were excellent. I really got caught up in the story. However, I’ve also run across one or two where the performer did a great job in enunciation, volume, clarity, etc. yet felt very ‘flat’ at the same time. They had used a monotone voice throughout the piece which was unfortunate because the story itself was very good. But I never got swept up in it, even in the more exciting dramatic moments.

I’ve covered bringing life to your performance in my previous entry about my “Adventures In Audio Recording” (Link: Adventures In Audio Recording Part VII). So I really did my best to make sure that I avoided those pitfalls in my recording, and it feels great to know I succeeded. I’m already hearing back from another listener who is still enjoying the audiobook and kept complimenting me on the different ‘voices’ I created for the various characters and (like the reviewer shown here) is eager for the upcoming audio installments of this book series. (My wife has two more books for me to record already, and is working on a fourth book in her as I write this entry).

So where do I go from here? Well, I’m doing more research to fine tune my recordings to an even higher level. I take the quality of my performances very seriously and want them to be as good as they can be, not only for myself but for my wife Helen. These books are her creation and I want to make sure I give them the kind of performance they deserve. I also hope to make my vocal talents available to others in time, and I want to give their works the same level of professionalism I give hers. But first I want to get a few more books under my ‘vocal’ belt so to speak.

Of course, as many of you know I have several books that I wrote with her in our Para-Earth Series, that are slowly being recorded as well. With luck (and a lot of hard work) I hope to have one of them ready for release on Audible just in time for the holiday season. Or at least, I hope it will work out that way. Life tends to get in the way sometimes, especially with this Covid-19 business (more about that in a separate entry).

In the meantime, I already have 1/3rd of her next book “Forever Haunted” already recorded and hope to have it completed by the end of the month. At which point I’ll start the editing process and get it submitted to ACX to be released in late September/early October. With a name like “Forever Haunted” you just know something ghostly is involved and Halloween is just the perfect time of year to release such a piece.

In the meantime, you can expect more installments in my “Adventures in Audio Recording” to be showing up on this blog. I’m also preparing a blooper video of my recording efforts for your enjoyment.

The phrase “Practice makes perfect” really comes to light when you see this video. Hopefully, some of you who are making your own audiobooks for the first time will find that it’s okay to have a mishap or a dozen. It’s just part of the process.

Until next time, take care and keep writing… and recording my friends.

Blog_Tour_banner

Today we are proud to be part of A. J. Alexander’s “Demon Tracker” Blog Tour, where we introduce you to the author and the third and newest installment to her ‘Council of Twelve’ book series.

Let’s start with getting to know the author herself, Miss Aurora Jean Alexander:

Thanks for joining us today Aurora, tell me what is your e-reading device of choice?

I’m reading on a Kindle Paperwhite

Describe your desk what does it look like?

I have a computer desk with a laptop and an extra monitor, a multifunctional printer device and books, papers, paper sketchbooks and pens, pens, pens.

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

My upbringing does not have any influence on my writing. I’m writing fantasy and paranormal romance.

When did you first start writing?

I’m not sure there ever was “a start”. I learned to write at the age of four and I remember developing little stories since I’m a Kindergarten kid. In school, when others complained about essays, mine were easily 6 – 10 pages long, I enjoyed it so much.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

Writing is my passion. Writing is a way to focus my creativity on building a (hopefully) good story. Writing relaxes me, calms me, challenges me, and it makes me happy. It is a part of my life.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series and ‘Soul Taker’ is the first book of the series. Different books of the series are in different states of completed. Right now I’m writing the seventh and eighth book in the series while several are being edited or waiting with my editor.

Who are your favorite authors?

I love reading Eric van Lustbader, James Clavell, Clive Cussler, and many other famous writers. But: I read books by L.W. Smith, Merlin Fraser, Micki Peluso, Taylor Fulks, Jim Spencer, Allan Krummenacker, and many others who held me intrigued and entertained. There are so many fantastic new authors out there. I’m adding their books to my “to-read” pile. Every single one of their books can teach me a lot about writing.

Okay now you’re making me blush. Let’s get back to you. What is your writing process?

The first draft is written by hand. By typing it into the computer I am able to catch the major flaws and can correct them. After that, the manuscript goes to editing, from there to filing for copyright. Then I send it out to Beta readers. That’s how I did it with the first book in the Series, ‘Soul Taker’. Let’s see how it works out and if the process will slightly change with the next books.

Of course, there are more things in between, marketing, book cover, writing blurbs, getting a trailer done, and so on.

How do you approach cover design?

I have KJ Magical Designs, Kathryn Jenkins, who does the covers for me. She is educated in graphic design and did a wonderful job with the first book of the series. I saw her work on other books and I’m happy I decided to pick her as my cover designer for that book series.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

The answer is no. If I wasn’t happy with the book the way it is I wouldn’t call it ‘completed’. My work is completed when I’m satisfied with the book, the characters, the plot and the entire story. How can I expect readers to like it if I don’t fully stand behind my work?

If people want to follow you on social media where can they go:

Website: http://www.aurorajeanalexander.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAJAlexander/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuroraJean_A

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aurorajeanalexander

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/authorauroraj/

Blog: https://aurorajalexander.wordpress.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aurorajeanalexander/

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/authorajalexander

Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/aurorajeanalexander

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/a-j-alexander-1051e4da-dbd9-4505-9423-a3a7bf9c88dc

 

Great, can we get a little peek into the book?

Of course, here you go…

AURORA_2020_DEMONTRACKER_EBOOK_150

Excerpt from Book 3 of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series – Demon Tracker

Less than twenty minutes later, I received a message from Michael. I was strictly ordered not to do anything but stay where I was. Andreas would pick me up a little later. In the meantime, I could work out in the gardens with some of the angels if I wanted to.

“I’m sorry, Zye. I must leave at once,” Uriel whispered. He kissed my cheek and was gone.

I worked out with Robbie and Daniel while Maria watched us carefully. All three of them were excellent sword fighters and we had a good time. After the workout, I rinsed the sweat off my body, dressed in black pants and a white t-shirt and went outside again to sit down and just enjoy nature for a while.

I watched frogs climbing out the pond, sparrows and hummingbirds flying and hopping all over the place and butterflies filling the air with breathtaking colors.

After a while, Andreas sat down next to me on the white bench. “Hello, Zye.”

“Hi, Andreas. I was told you were supposed to take me somewhere?”

He smiled. “Not just somewhere, Zye. You will be meeting the ‘Council of Twelve’.”

I froze. “Are you joking?”

He shook his head. “No.”

I felt my blood drain from my face.

Andreas jumped up. “Holy Mary! You’re not going to pass out on me, are you?”

I carefully stood up, testing whether my feet would still carry me.

My body trembled.

Andreas laughed. “Listen, Zye, there is no reason at all to freak out. Yes, they’re Archangels, but they won’t eat you. Don’t forget, Uriel will be there as well and he’s likely to protect you!”

I took a couple deep breaths. “Yes, he will. But what can he do when eleven others are voting against me?”

Andreas laughed. “What do you think they’d vote for? Killing you? Zye, they’re angels, standing on our side, fighting against evil. Just like what you do!”

His words made me think for a few moments before I finally replied, “I can’t help myself, Andreas. I’m still scared to death.”

He smiled mildly. “There is no reason to fear them. Of course, respect them. After all, they’re probably the most powerful individuals on Earth besides our one and only Creator. They’re not going to do anything bad or evil to you.”

I slowly tried to slow my heart rate and bring my trembles under control. “See? You’re getting better.” Andreas grinned. Then he opened his arms and offered to carry me to the assembly hall.

The so-called “assembly hall” was an enormous room, beautifully built, with polished marble of purest silver-gray, inlaid by some marble that looked like the veins of fire. The ground was covered with anthracite colored stone and harmonized beautifully with the light gray walls and the beautifully painted fiery ceiling. The ceiling was so high, even the Archangels could fly within the hall.

The room was equipped with a small waiting area with black leather seats and a small glass table. It was quite modern, but comfortable. Andreas gave me a brief description before we started to prepare me for the impressive and pompous sight.

After our arrival, I stepped away from Andreas and in my head heard Uriel’s voice: “If you’re going to do this more often, girl, I will have problems with that.”

I grinned. “There is only one solution to this problem,” I replied.

“And this is?” Uriel’s buoyant voice asked back.

“Next time pick me up yourself, Mr. Taxi,” I snarled.

I enjoyed the mental clash and the growing closeness it showed between Uriel and me.

Andreas curiously examined my face. “You were just somewhere else with your thoughts,” he commented with amusement.

I blushed furiously which made him chuckle.

“I’ll wait here for you.”

I swallowed. “I… okay.”

Then I turned to the huge ornate white door that opened by itself to let me inside.

There I found two huge angel warriors in full armor and a beautiful winged woman gesturing for me to follow her. She led me through a light, nearly empty corridor to a smaller pair of wooden doors. She opened them to let me enter. I hesitantly entered and the door closed behind me.

There I stood in front of a simple long table with twelve tall, exceptionally beautiful Archangels, each of them unique Still, I had the impression that these individuals formed an enormously strong singular entity.

Of course, I saw their different manifestations , but what caught me off guard was the fact I could perceive them all so clearly. Their smells and aromas were much stronger than the ones of other individuals I had encountered.

I already memorized Uriel’s scent. To me he was the purity of flames and heat, fire, and blaze. But to be truthful, he smelled deliciously like cinnamon. I hid a smile.

I interrupted my train of thought when Michael stood. “Please, Zye, come closer and meet the ‘Council of Twelve.’ From your left: Uriel, Myself, Anghariel, Zachariel, Centriel, Deonur, Raphael, Gabriel, Benadrel, Santanael, Tsechirel, and Simael.” He threw me a sharp look. “You seem to be totally in shock, Zye. Are you all right?”

I almost collapsed; my mouth was as dry as an Arabian desert. I had to swallow before finally I was able to reply. “Forgive me, Mylords. I just discovered that I apparently can catch your natural fragrance in a very strong and unique way. It hit me when I entered the hall.”

Gabriel rose, eyeing me curiously. “Wow, really? You’re not kidding?”

I only shook my head.

“Does that mean, even if you can’t see us, you’re still able to tell we’re here?” “Not only that,” I explained. “Each one of you smells unique.”

Gabriel seemed enthusiastic about this information. “You could tell us apart without even seeing us?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“No ‘Sir’ here, Zye,” he replied with the wink of an eye. “I’m Gabriel.” He turned to the others who had similar expressions on their faces. “Oh, please, can we take the time?”

Michael laughed. “We’re not in a hurry.” He scanned me quickly. “Are you up for a test?”

I swallowed dryly. “Yes.”

Uriel stood. “Fine with me, friends. But seriously: she looks like she’s going to pass out any minute. Would you mind being nice enough to offer her some water and let her relax for a couple of minutes?”

He walked around the table and handed me a glass of water. His hand was placed caringly onto my shoulder.

Just when I took a sip, Anghariel drawled, “Sheesh, Uriel. You sound as worried as Grandma Walton.”

I spit my mouthful of water across the floor, laughing. This unexpected little mishap made the Archangels stare at me in wonder before they smiled as well. I apologized, but it took a couple minutes until we all calmed down. By that time, I was visibly relaxed and Michael called his friends to order.

“What do you need for us to do, Zye?” he asked politely.

I smiled. “Not too much. I need to separate each one of you. I would say, at about the distance from here to the furthest corner over there. Then your natural perfumes won’t get mixed altogether.”

“Who do you want to start with? Uriel?” Michael asked curiously.

Anghariel chuckled. “I don’t think so, brother. I’ll bet my socks she knows his stench quite well by now.”

I blushed, Uriel grinned and eleven Archangels apparently had tons of fun. I bowed my head politely to Anghariel. “Would you mind if I start with you?”

He laughed. “Nope. It would be my pleasure.”

Copyright © Aurora Jean Alexander 2019

Very intriguing, where can folks go to read the entire book?

I have some links right here:

Amazon US Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086ZRDMFD?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

Amazon US Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Demon-Tracker-book-Council-Twelve/dp/B086Y39W24/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Amazon UK Ebook: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Demon-Tracker-book-Council-Twelve-ebook/dp/B086ZRDMFD/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Demon+Tracker+A.+J.+Alexander&qid=1587258649&sr=8-1

Amazon UK Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Demon-Tracker-book-Council-Twelve/dp/B086Y39W24/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1587258649&sr=8-1

Amazon DE Ebook: https://www.amazon.de/Demon-Tracker-Council-Twelve-English-ebook/dp/B086ZRDMFD/ref=sr_1_2?__mk_de_DE=%C3%85M%C3%85%C5%BD%C3%95%C3%91&dchild=1&keywords=Demon+Tracker+A.+J.+Alexander&qid=1587258666&sr=8-2

Amazon DE Paperback  https://www.amazon.de/Demon-Tracker-book-Council-Twelve/dp/B086Y39W24/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1587258666&sr=8-2

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1014830

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/demon-tracker/id1507992511?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/demon-tracker-a-j-alexander/1136855142;jsessionid=8571FBC6991BD7C75C6E3EC7DA170538.prodny_store01-atgap18?ean=2940164037963&st=AFF&2sid=Draft2Digital_7968444_NA&sourceId=AFFDraft2Digital

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/demon-tracker

Looks like you’ve got everyone’s format needs covered. Thanks so much for letting us be part of your blog tour and best of luck with the rest of the series.

Thanks for having me and hosting the book.


Finally heard back from ACX. Two issues came up. I didn’t leave enough “Room Tone” (silence) at beginning and end of every chapter. They want .5 to 1 second of silence before first word spoken, then 1-5 seconds of silence after last word spoken. Easy fix.

The other issue, I included the closing credits and the last chapter in one file. They wanted them separated, another easy fix.

Otherwise, they had no other problems with the files. Volume, clarity, technical requirements of the audios themselves, all of that was fine.

I will be making these corrections, if I haven’t already dealt with them on my own. After that… still going to follow our own path at this point and make CD’s and downloadable MP3’s from our websites.

and

Why?

Because Audible has an “exclusive” clause that says only they get to produce the audios, and they do not make CD’s. They only produce Audible versions, and as we’ve been told by others NOT everyone can afford the monthly Audible charges every month.

Will our path be an easy one? Not really. But we’re hoping that people will spread the word once we have the audios up for sale. We’ll have to promote ourselves, which would still be true if we went with Audible. Oh the books would be in their catalog along with 100’s of others, so what would be the difference?

Reviews? Reviews can be left at our website under the comments section for each product.

A lot of people think that just because they got their book/audio on a big company’s site that they are set and don’t have to do anything else. But that’s the BIGGEST mistake one can make. No matter where your works are for sale, YOU still have to do most if not all the promoting to get the word out. Or hire someone to do your marketing. In this day and age “If you build it they will come…” is seriously overrated. YOU have to put in the work to get people to find out about your work.

And that is exactly what I’m doing here and now. Letting people know the CD’s and MP3’s are coming. I’ll be creating a “Store” button here on this site very soon and populate it with CD’s, downloadable MP3 files, PDF’s, and the option to order a signed print copy of any of our books.

ALSO… I will be continuing the “Adventures in Audio Recording” Series, in order that those who still wish to create audios can succeed in making Audible quality files ready for submission to ACX or other audiobook outlets.

Until next time, take care and keep writing and recording my friends.

After our last entry asking about making other options available such as CD’s and downloadable MP3 files of our books for audio, we’ve learned that if we go with Audible they have the “Exclusive” right to produce the audio. It also clearly states in the agreement that neither we, nor anyone else, can create audios of the books in ANY format.

                                  

And this does not just apply to us. At our local library we found some of Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” on CD. However, it seems they were all made before the books were transferred to Audible. Since then no new CD’s have been made. Allan even went as far as to check on Amazon and found the only  CD copies available are used ones for the earlier books. There do not appear to be any CD’s for the more recent installments of that series, only the Audible version.

So what does that mean for us? That is where the tough decision is being made. After much researching, Allan has learned how to make MP3 Files for sale and download from Helen’s web page. She is still in the middle of constructing the store for that website, but we will keep you all appraised of how it is coming along and when things will be available for sale.

Her first novel “Forever’s Too Long” is already recorded and up to ACX/Audible standards. However, we both want to add a few new touches to the files, like adding some intro and closing music, as well as the occasional sound-effect here and there where it just seems appropriate (like someone bumping their head – without giving any of the plot away, it just seems appropriate for the particular scene in question, trust me on this).

The MP3 downloads will be in Zip File format, and if this is a problem for anyone please let us know.  (NOTE: We will be experimenting with non-Zip MP3 Files as well, just in case some people need that style.) 

Payment Options:

-Payments will be accepted at Helen’s on-line store through PayPal (which takes credit cards these days).

-Personal checks will also be accepted in which case the file(s) will be e-mailed to you as soon as the check is received and deposited.

 

What will be available at the online store?

                                   

CD’s

MP3 Downloads 

Signed Trade Paperback Copies

And finally…

PDF’s for those who don’t do Kindle/Nook


*NOTE: Kindle/Nook/Kobo and other e-book versions will still be available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, Kobo, other online outlets. 

 

But what about the Para-Earths Books?

We will also be slowly setting up a store here on this blog to cover our Para-Earths Series which of course includes: 

            

*NOTE: Signed paperback copies and PDFs will be posted shortly.*

Audiobooks in the forms of CD’s and dowloadable MP3’s are already under way, starting with the our anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At A Time” (of which 5 of the stories have already been recorded and edited) and “The Bridge”. Voices have been lined up for many of the characters, while others have yet to be cast so please bear with us.

And rest assured that all new Para-Earths tales are on the way as well.

As of today “The Door” is weighing in at over 60,000 words and still growing.

We are also pleased to let you all know that “The Vampyre Blogs – Family Ties” novel, is also under way and is currently sitting at 6000 words. This story will be a full-length novel taking up a couple of weeks after the events of “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.

A third novel “The Misty Mountains” will feature Jonathan Cloudfoot and his girlfriend Michelle (who both made their 1st appearances in “The Ship”) will be teaming up with “The Professor” (aka Otto from “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”) is also in the works. This adventure will be taking place in the hills of Santa Cruz California.

So we have a lot going on here and much more coming your way. As always we thank you for your support and patience while we bring all this and more to you.

Until next time, take care and keep writing everyone!


While waiting for Audible to approve/reject our submission, we have heard back from a number of people who say they don’t do Audible. Some prefer CD’s because they cannot afford Audible’s monthly charges.

So this got me and Helen thinking about offering CD’s, even if Audible accepts our books. We are also considering the fact that some people do not have a convenient CD Player these days, or may prefer audio files for storage. For them, we are thinking about selling MP3 audio files that people can order from this site so they can download the entire book into their own device of choice.

So please take a moment and let us know which of the following options that would be of interest to you. We are simply seeking feedback which would be a huge help to us in deciding what path(s) to take as far as making our audios available to people, so your responses are VERY important to us.

NOTE: you CAN vote for more than one option from the list below:

 
A – Audible?
 
B – Audiobook on CD’s?
 
C – MP3 audio files that you can download to the device(s) of your choice?
 

Please leave your votes in the comment section so we can see your responses, and as always we thank you all for your continued support for this blog and our works.

Keep writing everyone!

 

Audio Options

CAN YOUR HEAR ME NOW?

Everyone knows that typing in all caps means the person is yelling/screaming at you over the internet. Naturally, most folks will tell the user to please lower their volume/tone as no one likes being screamed at. This is even more true when it comes to a person listening to an audiobook. If the narrator telling the tale is too loud or too soft it can really take the listener out of the story and annoy them to no end. And don’t expect good reviews on Audible either. I’ve seen reviews that praise the story but tear into the performance with a vengeance. This in turn can ruin your chances to be hired to do audios of other peoples’ books. 

So today we’re going to get into volume and consistency in our recordings. Now if you’re renting studio space and have someone else doing your editing, you’re probably going to be okay. But if you’re like me and doing your recording in the comfort of your own home/studio, as well as taking care of the editing afterwards, you have your work cut out for you.

Recently I was burning some CD’s (using CD-R discs and Windows Media Player) for my mom who is not a computer user, thus she cannot go the Audible route. But she does love her CD’s, so being the dutiful son I went to work burning her a copy of Helen’s solo novel “Forever’s Too Long” (Available at Amazon at this link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RSGKTDF). Now this audio is not yet available in Audible because it is still going through Audible’s “Review Process” (a topic for another entry in the “Adventures in Audio Recording Series”).

After making sure all the files were in MP3 format (an Audible Submission Requirement), I burnt (copied) them onto CDs and then began running the discs through my CD player to make sure they were working. To my delight they worked beautifully, to my horror the volume levels between chapters was…

Yeah, the volume levels from one chapter to the next was shall we say NOT exactly even. Mind you I’m not saying they were off the scales or anything. Mind you I wasn’t blowing anyone’s hair back or anything like that.

But the volume was varying enough that at times a listener would need to adjust the volume up or down to hear properly. And let me tell you, if I were the listener I’d be getting damned annoyed if I kept getting caught up in the story and then pulled out to adjust the volume every so often.

So here was a new problem I hadn’t counted on. While technically each chapter met Audible’s technical requirements, this varying volume level from one chapter to the next was definitely going to be a problem. A problem that could easily get the book rejected by Audible. So there was only one thing to do, I had to fix this problem. But how? I’m still quite the newbie when it comes to recording audiobooks. The answer was simple, it was time to hit YouTube once again for advice on how to adjust the volume on each individual chapter so they lined up just right.

TO BE CONTINUED….


New Year’s is a time for reflection and looking ahead… or so I’ve been told. My first thought was “I didn’t really get that much done this year. I don’t have much to say or show for it.” Then at the urging of Helen I pulled out a pen and paper and started making a list. The results surprised me.

                   

I created not one but three book covers. This is the most art I’ve done in one year in I don’t know how long. Two of them were of course for Helen’s new The Forever Detective Series. The other was a new cover for “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” which we re-released as the first Young Adult (YA) installment of our Para-Earth Series.

Speaking of Helen’s new series, we created not one but two book trailers, one for each book.

 

 

This was the first time I’d ever made a book trailer and it was a blast. Helen wrote a short script for each and also found a bunch of images she wanted used in them. I not only supplied the expertise in turning it all into a video, but also the voice-over.

Now all this voice-over work, as brief as it was, led to yet another new project. At the urging of many others, I started looking into creating audiobooks. I spent a couple of months researching equipment and software and how to use it all. Eventually, I finally started recording a couple of our short stories from our anthology “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time” and got some seriously positive feedback, as well as some solid tips.

Here’s one of them:

I’ve recorded several more in the meantime, with the hopes of eventually having the entire anthology recorded in the coming months.

This leads me back to my efforts to get into creating full-scale audiobooks. In spite of all my research and blogging about all the technical aspects of creating an audiobook (there are seven entries in this blog already with a few more to come) I still wasn’t sure I was ready to fully go for it. Then in early November I went to a class about voice-over work and got the reassurance I needed from a pro. As she told me in an e-mail “You’ve got the chords for this…”

With this in mind I’ve been fully throwing myself into completing the audio recordings of Helen’s first solo book “Forever’s Too Long”. To date 20 of the 22 chapters are recorded and edited. I have re-record two more and get them edited. Once their done and meet with her approval (I had recorded them earlier but neither of us were happy with the results hence the do-over) we will be submitting the entire set to Audible. We’re hoping this will happen no later than the end of this month (January 2020). From there I intend to continue recording more stories from the anthology as well as begin turning her second book “Forever Haunted” into an audio, as well as “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” in which Helen will be lending her vocal talents to bringing those characters more to life.

Some of you may be wondering why I haven’t started turning “The Bridge” or “The Ship” into audiobooks, instead of jumping to “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” and “TVB – One Day At a Time”. The answer is simple, length. Both “The Bridge” and “The Ship” are much longer than any of the other books I’m tackling and will take a great deal more time to record. Plus, I still have to come up with voices for all the various characters in those two books. So until I’ve nailed down voices for everyone, those are on the slow track for now, but they will be happening.

But getting back to 2019, with all this artwork and recording, did I get ANY writing done? The answer is of course I did. Some of it was on the long-awaited sequel to “The Bridge” and “The Ship”.

“The Door” is fully under way, and will hopefully finally see the light of day by the end of this year if not sooner. As this book is a major turning point in the Para-Earth Series, I really want to get this book completed as much as people want to read it. However, some of it’s progress will depend on another writing project with my other collaborator Rich Caminiti.

“The Pass” has been one of the most ambitious projects I’ve worked on to date. It is also the only book I’ve worked on as a long-distance collaboration, which has involved trading off chapters and as well many, MANY Skype sessions. But Rich and I are closing in on a finished 1st draft and then the process of creating a 2nd cleaner draft will begin in another month or so. So I will have much to do on that front. After the 2nd draft, it will be sent to beta-readers and an editor for further clean-up. Our hopes is to have the book out by the end of the year, but we will see what happens. We refuse to rush the book without getting it as clean and exciting as possible. And on a side note, the 2nd installment of that tale is also under way as I write. So more on that will be coming in future blog posts.

Also on the writing front I completed 3 brand new short stories for our other site “The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition”. Two of those tales were rather lengthy and took several months apiece to complete. Yet in spite of their length, they are still considered short stories and not novelettes or novellas.

So that covers most of 2019.

What’s in store for 2020?

Well, I’ve already covered the fact that I’m close to releasing a complete audiobook, which I hope to follow with at least 2 more before year’s end. As I mentioned earlier, one will be “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day At a Time” anthology, the other will be Helen’s 2nd book “Forever Haunted”. I’ve got voices prepared for both titles and depending on how things go I may get “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” under way as well.

When it comes to my own writing getting “The Pass” into a finished 2nd draft and sent to beta-readers and an editor are the top demands. Rich and I would like to see it reach readers by the end of the year, but I know from experience that there’s still so much to do before that can happen. But we will see.

I’m already planning several new short stories for “The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition” as well as beginning preparations to put together and 2nd anthology with several never before seen stories included.

“The Door” of course is another priority for me. I’d really like to see that finished and prepped for release this year. With luck, and patience, I hope to make that actually happen.

And of course, I’ll be making new book trailers as well as helping format Helen’s next two books in her Forever Detective series.

So that’s what’s been and what is coming. There’s a lot on our plates, but we’ll keep bringing you new posts regarding all these projects and more so stay tuned. Please accept this late wish for a HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all and as always keep writing.

Gifting E-books…


This entry may seem to be a repeat but every year I get asked about how to gift e-books to someone. So here you all are and I hope everyone takes advantage since giving someone a tale they will love can be priceless sometimes…

Okay gang, the big day is drawing near and you still want to get a few more gifts but don’t know what to buy, or don’t want to go out into the stores which have already pulled down half of their displays and are lining up Spring stuff. What to do, what to do… how about giving someone a good book to read on their Kindle? It’s fast, easy, and you can have it delivered on Christmas Day and know it will arrive on time…


Didn’t know you could do this? Neither did I for the longest time. I only found out a couple of years ago when we released “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”. I found myself rewarding some of our beta-readers with a free copy of the finished product in whatever form they wished (trade paperback, Kindle, PDF).  Most requested a signed trade paperback, but a couple asked for the Kindle version.

So I headed over to Amazon, got into my account, and pulled up “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.  Once there I quickly found the “Give As A Gift” button and clicked it.  From there I was taken to another screen which asked me to sign into my Amazon account, which I did.  From there I was taken to a final screen

This screen asked only for the e-mail address of the recipient I was sending this book to AND what day I wanted it delivered.  It was the option of a delivery date that really caught my eye.  Now some of you might be thinking, “Duh, you never noticed this before?”  And the answer is “Obviously, I didn’t.  I rarely gave e-books as gifts to anyone before, even though I’m one of the authors.  Most of my readers buy the books for themselves and hardly anyone in my family owns a Nook or Kindle.”  So yes, this was  new to me and very exciting.

So now I have this huge new avenue for last minute holiday shopping before me, which I thought it important to share these options with all of you. Some of you may have known about all this, but for those (like me) who didn’t you now have more options when it comes to shopping for gifts.  I personally love the idea of having a book to place in someone’s ‘Cyber Stocking’.

So for anyone who didn’t know about this option, now you do.  And the best part is you can do that kind of shopping right now.  The e-book will not arrive before the date you set.

Of course, being an author I’m going to shamelessly promote our books by providing links below so you can visit our author pages on Amazon, where all our books are listed and you can choose whichever one(s) you’d like to gift to the readers in your life.

Here are the links for our Para-Earth Series:

US KINDLE USERS:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KT9C559?ref=series_rw_dp_labf

UK KINDLE USERS:

CANADA KINDLE USERS:

And for fans of Helen’s new “Forever Detective Series” which blends noir mystery and the supernatural here are the links to those books:

Thanks for tuning in and don’t be afraid to leave suggestions or ideas about gifting books that I overlooked in this post, in the comments section below.  Until next time, take care and keep writing.

Okay, so now that we’ve got all the technical parts of recording covered and how to meet ACX’s requirements, we’re ready to record and submit, right?

Yeah, what the 10th Doctor is saying. There are a number of other non-technical requirements that we have to pay attention to, in order to submit our audio successfully. First off, you need to include opening credits. These are as follows:

-The title of the audiobook

-The subtitle, if there is one

-Written by (Name of the Author)

-Narrated by (Insert your name here)

All of these need to be included in the very first file. Now you can submit this as a separate file, or as part of the first chapter.

Speaking of chapters, each chapter should have its own sound file. When you submit to ACX you’ll be submitting an entire folder of files to them. And each file can only include one chapter, no matter how short. UNLESS… the chapter is so long that the sound file is going to be longer than 120 minutes. In that case, you’ll be breaking that chapter up into more than one file. Remember, no single file can be longer than 120 minutes. ACX is very strict about this.

And since we’re discussing credits, there should also be closing credits at the end of the final chapter or at least the spoken words THE END.  I myself prefer something like this. “The End. You have been listening to “Title of the Book”, written by “Author Name” and narrated by “Your name here”.

You’ll also want to have a separate file to submit that will be a sample of your work so the audience can get a taste of what awaits them inside your audiobook. Do not include anything that contains the opening/closing credits, music, or anything explicit. The sample can be anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes in length. So choose wisely, remember this is part of your ‘hook’ to get listeners to want to hear the entire story from start to finish.

Another requirement ACX asks of submissions is 2-3 seconds of silence or “Room Tone”. Remember where I mentioned having several seconds of silence where we used the “Noise Reduction” function, this is where that section comes into play again. Originally we used it to clean up the entire file. But now we need it as a lead in before any speaking takes place in a file, and they also want another 3-5 seconds at the end of each file. This is a requirement that can and will get you rejected, so make sure each of your files has this 2-3 seconds at the beginning and 3-5 seconds of “Room Tone” at the end.

Be careful of making sure each file is consistent in pacing, vocalization, sound levels, clear speaking, etc. Try to avoid loud mic pops, mouth noises, breathing, etc. (most of which we covered in the previous entries where we covered the technical requirements). Still, try to make sure there is a definite consistency throughout all the files so as not to irritate the listener. People love being drawn into a story and then jarred out of it because of a mistake someone made in the recording. This WILL lead to bad reviews and poor ratings of all your hard work. So take the time to make sure every file is clean and consistent for your own sake.

Next up, Mono or Stereo channel formats. Whichever format you choose ALL the files associated with the audiobook in question must be in the same format. I myself stick to Mono which makes my life so much easier. I personally don’t really know the difference between the two, but Mono is what I use and I keep things consistent that way.

Finally, ACX has one final rule… the narration must be done by an actual human being. Text-to-speech is not allowed. Audible listeners are expecting a performance by a person, so ACX will only accept that and nothing else.

So, we’ve covered technical issues, and the submission requirements for ACX, which means we’re done right…

 

Sorry about that, but there are other things we need to discuss and take into consideration. And all of it falls under “Performance”. How good a narrator are you? Can you bring life to the words and characters or not? How fast should you be reading? What about pauses for the end of a sentence, etc., etc. Are you putting emphasis in the right place for the story?

We’ll go into all that in our next installment. But if you feel you’ve learned all you need, perhaps you’re already an actor or someone who’s just a natural at loud readings. If you are, then best of luck to you and go get ’em!

As for everyone else, I’ll see you in a couple of weeks. Until then keep writing and reading my friends.


Okay, we covered a lot of technical details in the last entry, but there’s still one more thing I want to talk about today, before going on to other details to consider when doing an audio recording. Regretfully, I’m one of those people with asthma so on occasion you can actually hear me taking a deep breath from time to time in the raw recordings. I do try my best to watch my breathing while I’m recording, but occasionally I take one of those deeper ones that the microphone catches. Now, this may not be a huge problem for audiobooks, but if you’re doing recordings of yourself singing it can be a BIG problem. So to keep yourself covered on both fronts let me introduce you to Noise Gate.

Now, in my case Noise Gate was one of those Effects that I needed to add to Audacity. You may want to refer back to this YouTube Video for how to add an effect to your Audacity:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdQq9W6Ot2w

Of course you’ll want to know where do I find the Noise Gate effect so I can upload it?

Here’s the link:

https://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Nyquist_Effect_Plug-ins#Noise_Gate

Just click on (noisegate.ny) Download and follow the instructions in the YouTube video to get it into your Audacity Effects Arsenal.

Okay, now that you have Noise Gate among your Audacity Effects, bring up one of your recordings that you’ve done. Select the entire recording and go to Effects and scroll down the list until you find Noise Gate. Mine looks like this:

From the first three options Select Function, Stereo Linking, and Appy Low-Cut Filter: are already selected in this image so just leave them like this.  The same holds true for Gate Frequencies Above, that 0.00 setting is just fine.

The only things I changed were the following:

 – Level Reduction: -30.0

 – Gate Threshold: -30.0

 – Attack/Decay: 50.0

It will remain at these settings unless you change things. Then I hit the OK button and that’s it. On occasion you might need to hit the Debug button, but that may only be the first time you use it, if at all.

This should take out the breaths and now you will have a very clean recording.

From here select the entire recording (Select All) and go to that Analyze option on your Audacity toolbar and select ACX Check. If I’ve done my job explaining things well you should be meeting ACX’s requirements. If not, the analyzer will tell you where you’re falling short and what areas need to be adjusted.  Remember I’m a NOOB when it comes to technical things so you might want to refer to those videos I listed in the previous entry to get more details and insights.

Okay, now you’ve got all your effects and chains in place and you can clean up any recordings you put together. So what else do we have to watch out for? We’re set, right?

Sorry gang, there’s still more to cover (which is why this series has so many installments).  In the next entry we’ll be covering ACX’s other submission requirements: such as giving title, author, who’s narrating, pacing, silence at the beginning and end, chapters, etc.

That’s going to be a lot of material in and of itself so I’m going to close this entry here for now.  In the meantime, experiment with Audacity, learn its many other tricks and functions that I haven’t even touched on. Watch YouTube videos for tutorials, etc.

But above all, keep reading and recording my friends.

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