Category: Uncategorized



Helen’s latest book is out and here’s your chance to grab your own copy of this growing 5 star series…

Forever Detective

Just in time for the Christmas season, a good old fashion ghost story is the theme of the second installment of the Forever Detective Series.

The year is 1947 and private investigator Rafael Jones has already learned the hard way that the supernatural is all too real. Having been turned into a vampire, he’s trying to continue his work as a detective, while attempting to adapt to and understand his condition. 

Now he has a new case to deal with. A friend has asked him to prove a mansion he’s inherited is NOT haunted. Unfortunately, it is… and the ghost needs Rafael for help and justice.

Can our hero find answers and evidence a 20 year old cold case no one knew about? Can he find the Prohibition gangster who murdered the young flapper? These things are harder than you’d expect them to be with a view of the murder…

View original post 61 more words


Just in time for the Christmas season, a good old fashion ghost story is the theme of the Helen’s second solo book…

The year is 1947 and private investigator Rafael Jones has already learned the hard way that the supernatural is all too real. Having been turned into a vampire, albeit one who has no problems with holy objects, he’s trying to continue working as a detective. While back on the continent his Interpol love, Clara Thomas, is using her considerable “occult” contacts to find a way to help him.

In the meantime he has a new case to deal with. A friend has asked him to prove a mansion he’s inherited is NOT haunted. Unfortunately, it is and the ghost has reached out to Rafael for help and justice.

Can our hero find answers to a 20 year old cold case no one knew about? Can he find the Prohibition gangster who murdered the young flapper? And can our boy survive the fact that he’s not the only one who knows about supernatural beings and how to deal with them?

Find out in “Forever Haunted” available December 1st in Trade Paperback and Kindle:

 

 

*LINKS for Trade Paperback, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords coming soon*

Adventures In Audio Recording VII


Okay now that we’ve covered as much of the technical that I’m aware of, let’s move on to a new topic, namely doing the actual reading aloud. Now the first thing I’m going to say is please do not make yourself sound like Ben Stein. Unless of course your book is about curing insomnia, in which case then you might make a bundle on the open market.

People do not want to hear a lifeless dull monotone performance. You put a lot into your work to make it come to life on the written page. Now you have to bring that same life into your reading. Mind you I’m not saying you have to put together a full-fledged performance complete with sound effects, mood music, and an entire cast. But you do need to give your listeners an interesting and gripping experience. Try to get them caught up int he moment with your voice and delivery. But equally as important you have to make sure your speaking clearly, not too fast, nor too slowly. You need to enunciate properly so they don’t get hung up on a badly pronounced word and are now falling behind as the rest of the story continues, while they’re trying to figure out what you meant to say.

Now if you’ve already done loud readings and have entertained people with them, you’re off to a great start. In my case I took a theater class back in the day and have been part of Toastmasters, so I have a lot to fall back on to help me. Plus I’ve read aloud to many people and have been complimented on my ability to make the characters come alive for the audience.

Now if this sounds like more than you can handle, you might want to look into some training or hiring someone as a narrator. Even with my experience, I’ve been having a hard time with my recordings and making sure they come across as professional as possible. I’ve been able to give a lot of technical information here, but actually delivering a good reading is a whole other ballgame for me. I’m very demanding of myself and want to produce a really top-notch product. So far, those who’ve been listening to the chapters I’ve already recorded and edited are very pleased with the results. Some, who listen to a lot of Audible books, have told me I’m as good if not better than a number of narrators they’ve listened to.

I think that may be partly because I not only read but give each character a different voice and wind up with a narration/performance recording. But while I do so I am trying to pay attention to a number of factors like:

– Pacing: I have to struggle not to get too caught up in the performance that I don’t rush through a scene no matter how exciting I find it.

 

 

– Pausing: Remembering to actually leave a pause at periods and commas. This is a bit of an issue for me, so keeping pacing in mind helps a lot. So in my case the two go hand in hand.

 

SIDENOTE: Why yes I am a big fan of the muppets, how did you know?

– Emoting: Okay this goes back to my earlier comment about Ben Stein. Remember the listeners cannot see you, so you have to let your voice carry the day when it comes to emotions or giving the audience a sense of urgency, anxiety, worry, passion. You don’t have to go overboard like this guy…

But just let some feeling into your voice to give the audience a feel for the moment.

 

– Emphasis: This area can be tricky. Luckily if you’re the author or the author is someone close who can help coach you on this part, you’ll be in good shape. Deciding where to put emphasis (making a certain word/part of a sentence) can be simple or not. In my case I recently had an occasion where I was doing a voice-over on a book trailer for my wife Helen’s latest solo novel. She had created a sentence that was a bit long, but technically correct from a writing standpoint. However, I was having trouble finding where to put the emphasis on certain sections within the one sentence. I’m putting the trailer just below so you can see and hear it. The area in particular is about halfway through it where  I start talking about “The shadows of Prohibition…” It took me a couple of takes to get this line just the way she wanted, but the result was spot on.

I feel we’ve covered a lot today so I’m going to leave our discussion here for the moment, partly because I’m going to a class on Voice-Over work on Monday.  Hopefully I’ll have more things to share with you all in my next entry in two weeks. I do hope this and the previous entries regarding Audio Recording has been helpful to you. There’s still probably a couple of more entries to do before I finish this topic… and even then I might do more down the road as I finally prepare myself to actually submit an audiobook to ACX/Audible. That will probably be an adventure in and of itself, so stay tuned.

 

Until next time, keep writing and recording my friends.


 

New book means new book trailer! Allan does the narration. Enjoy.


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.


Guess who got featured as the spotlight author over on Writer’s Treasure Chest…

Writer's Treasure Chest

Welcome!

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Allan Krummenacker, and for the record “I am not a number, I am a FREE MAN!” Anyone who gets that reference please give yourself a Gold Star. Also the first 5 people who post where that quote comes from down in the comments section can get a free copy of “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” which is being released October 1st.

Okay now that I got that out of my system, let’s get down to business. As you already suspect I’m rather silly and full of nonsense, which are great qualities in writing. I was born and raised on Long Island, NY and moved to California in 1985. Here I met my wife, a great set of friends, got into sci-fi and fantasy fandom (including costuming and fanfic writing). I currently reside along the west coast and am working for the county…

View original post 1,739 more words


 

This is one of the few early reader books I’ve had the chance to read, but it was so worth it. The story felt like a trip down memory lane when friendships seemed few and far between. But it was much more than that.

The tale of Arthur and his golden feather is a fascinating tale as well as a reminder that even the most seemingly popular person can also be one of the loneliest. Arthur is such an individual. His golden feather supposedly grants wishes which means Arthur has lots of visitors, but none of them stay. They only want to make their wish and give him a gift and be one their way, leaving him a very lonely fellow. His parents were taken from him when he was very young, and despite the numerous times he’s made a wish on his golden feather he still has no family, or any real friends.

But when his feather is stolen by Evil Hawk, Arthur goes on a harrowing quest to retrieve the feather. Along the way he meets an assortment of other characters, some are lonely outcasts like himself, others have close families, but each of them has problems of their own that he does his best to help solve.  Before long he realizes he is forming a close band of friends who truly care about him as much as he does them.

Together they not only find more friends and adventures, Arthur finds what really makes a family and true friends.

The author tells the tale with style and smiles, while never talking down to the reader (regardless of age). The book is also filled with wonderful artwork full of color and fun that makes the story even more fun to read again and again.

An excellent early reader tale. I highly recommend it!

Available at Amazon for Kindle at:


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.


Okay folks today we get down into some of the actual nitty-gritty with the Audacity program.  I’m going to be covering a fair amount of info here, while also supplying you with links to various videos that helped me. This way if my own instructions are not clear, or maybe you work better with  a visual, you’ll have the link to see exactly what’s going on.

Now I’m going to introduce you to what I refer to as “My Best Friend” in Audacity. It’s called the CHAIN. What the chain does is applies several clean-up “Effects” that will improve the quality of your recording in one shot. Mind you, it is possible to do every Effect separately, but you’ll probably need to do it every one at a time, whenever you do a recording. The Chain command will have all the Effects  preset at the levels you already need in order to meet ACX’s requirement guidelines and will save you a LOT of time.

However, we will have to do those presets while creating the Chain. This may take some time, but as I said before, in the future you’ll be able to select the Chain command and it will do it all in one shot.  So let’s get started.

Looking at the image above you’ll see Audacity in all its complicated-looking glory. Don’t worry it’s not that scary really. Clicking on “FILE” you’ll get a drop down menu. Just under the Import Option you’ll see Chains. Bring your cursor over it and it will give you two more options Apply Chain and Edit Chains. You’ll want “Edit Chains” so click on that. This is what should come up:

Of course in your case there may not be any Chain names in that first column, aside from maybe MP3 conversion, that came with mine, but I don’t know if this is true for everyone. Nevertheless, you have to create a new chain command of your own. So down at the bottom you’ll hit the Add button. This will start your new Chain. I gave mine the name ACX so I know exactly what it does.

After you give it a name the next thing you’ll see that you have that name highlighted under your Chain List. In the other box you’ll see 01 End. That will wind up getting pushed down to the bottom of your list as you add each effect, so don’t panic. At the bottom of your screen you’ll click on Insert which will bring this up next:

Now you have a list of Effects to choose from. I started with Equalization so select that one. Once you have it hi-lighted you’ll see at the top of that box a button that says “Select Parameters” hit that. This will bring up another screen that looks like this:

Looks intimidating doesn’t it? But all I want you to do is go to the bottom where it says Select Curve and choose the Low Roll-Off For Speech option. Then you’ll take the Length of Filter arrow just above that line towards the right and move the arrow to about 5000. Then click OK.

Congratulations, you’ve just taken care of your Equalizer Effect. Now we’re back on our Command Select screen with Equalization still chosen. You’ll now hit the OK button on that screen and see that Equalization is now part of your Chain.

Not so bad, right? Now we’re going to hit the Insert to add another Command to the Chain. This time I want you to choose RMS Normalize for your next command.

*NOTE: If this or any of the other options I’m telling you to choose is not among your selections, you’ll need to add it to your options. Should this be the case with you, I recommend watching video which is easy to understand and really helpful visually. I used it and it saved me a lot of aggravation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdQq9W6Ot2w. Mind you you might need to restart Audacity to get it to show up among your Select Command options, so make sure you save the Chain you’ve been creating BEFORE closing Audacity down. That way all you’ve done is already still there when you go under File and hit Edit Chains which will bring up your list again and you can select it to continue inserting the new command/effects.

Now back to RMS Normalize. Now remember to choose RMS Normalize, instead of Normalize. These are two very different functions and ACX is focused on RMS Normalize so choose it. Once again it will be hi-lighted and you’ll choose Set Parameters at the top of that window. Once there you’ll get a small window (which I cannot find an image of online #*@%!!! –those symbols were me cursing under my). However, without the image I can tell you there is very little to do here. You’ll simply enter -20.00 in the box marked Target RMS Level. You’ll also make sure the Normalize Sterio Channels is set at “Independently”. Then hit OK.  This will take you back to Select Command  and you’ll hit OK on that window. Now you have both Equalize and RMS Normalize in your chain.

*ANOTHER NOTE ABOUT RMS NORMALIZE: If after you run your chain and  you go to ACX Analyze and it may come back saying the RMS Normalize did not meet their standards. If this happens go under Effects, choose RMS Normalize and this will in turn take you back to that same screen where you set the Target RMS Level. Don’t change anything. Simply hit the “Debug” button (while having your entire recording selected so it will be applied to the whole thing), and then run the ACX Analyzer again after that. This happened to me the very first time I ran my chain and it fixed the problem. And apparently it has become the default because I’ve never had this problem with the RMS Normalizer ever again. Hopefully, you’ll have the same luck.

Finally, we come to the last command in my Chain and that is Limiter. Once again we are back on the Chain screen and hitting Insert. This time from the Select Command we choose Limiter and go back up to the top and click “Edit Parameters”. This is the screen that should come up:

Here you will choose the following. First you’ll want to choose Soft Limit under Type. Then you’ll choose 0 for both Input Gains (or if that’s already your option just leave it). Then -3.5  for Limit to (dB).  and finally 10 for Hold (ms).  As for Apply Make-up Gain: choose the No option. Then click OK. Then select OK on Select Command and you’ll see it as part of your Chain. From here, you’ll simply hit the OK button at the bottom of the Chain Command screen and you are done. You now have a working Chain that you can apply to your entire recording.

To do this, you’ll got to Select at the top of your Audacity screen and choose All. Then you’ll go to File and choose Chains and this time select Apply Chain. From there you’ll select whatever name you gave the Chain and select “Apply To Current Project” and from there the magic happens. The program will tell you which effect it is working on then go straight to the next one and so on until it finishes. You’ll see a visible difference in the wave-lengths of your recording and when you play it you’ll notice a huge difference in the sound quality. Here’s an example of one of mine, the first selection is BEFORE and the second one is AFTER I applied the Chain command.

RAW RECORDING:

AFTER CHAIN APPLIED:

Again you could have applied all these steps individually, but again the time it took to just set this Chain up would be just as long.  But now that you have that Chain you’ll be done in way less time.

Now if anyone found me sounding condescending in how I wrote this piece, please understand I am a total Novice when it comes to tech and I know I’m not the only one out there. So I tried to keep this in terms I know I would understand if I was a reader with the same lack of knowledge.

And in case I left anything out or didn’t explain the processes correctly here are the video links that cover this same material. It took me hours to find these but they were so worth it in the end.

How to Make Your Voice Sound Like Studio Quality in Audacity:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20DtRBJXWXU&list=PLjgeYVyMyvJxzwyZjepXTyey_gTeGiF2K&index=25&t=97s

Making Your Voice Sound Better In Audacity:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYF5ytMDFpA&list=PLjgeYVyMyvJzrsl94TaEtLVVZts6O10a9&index=3&t=0s

Audacity for ACX:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnutKoBzmpA&list=PLjgeYVyMyvJzrsl94TaEtLVVZts6O10a9&index=6&t=18s

The last video involves adding a Noise Gate, which I will go into in the next installment of this series. I’d do it here, but I’ve probably already overloaded you all with enough info. But watch the video by all means and if you choose to experiment on your own, that’s great.

Until next time keep writing and recording my friends.


Okay, so getting ready to record in the privacy of your own home. Sadly, this will not always be easy. Finding a quiet spot to set up is always tricky at best. But here are a few do’s and don’t’s:

1 – DON’T use your bathroom! It may have great acoustics for singing, but for recording an audio book, not a great choice. Too much echo, unless of course you want that effect for a particular scene where the character is in a cave/tunnel.  But not ideal for an entire book. You’ll drive your listeners crazy.

2 – Do not have any laundry, dishwasher, or loud fans going anywhere nearby. If you’ve got a really good microphone, guess what it will be picked up in the background. Not acceptable to ACX requirements.

3 – Make sure the windows are closed so you don’t pick up outside noises, like traffic or kids playing.

4 – Be prepared to start over… repeatedly! Things happen. You accidentally step on something, or your clothing is crinkly, etc. Where something comfortable and quiet.

5 – Have some water/drink on hand to take a swig between takes (or even sentences). Remember, with Audacity you’ll have the capability to delete sections where something happened you didn’t realize got picked up by the mic.

Some of you are probably wondering, “How do I delete a section in Audacity?” It’s very simple. When you record Audacity not only records but gives you a visual on your computer screen as depicted in the shot below.

You’ll notice how one section of the narration is already hi-lighted. For this discussion let’s say that’s the are you want to delete. Well once you have the area you want to go, simply select it and hit your delete button. It’s that simple. Just be careful you’re selecting just the section you want gone. If you delete too much, you do have the option of “Undoing” the delete by simply moving your cursor over to the Edit on the toolbar line and selecting Undo. Then you can go back and select just the area you had intended to delete. Audacity can be very forgiving. But this only works if you haven’t done another delete already. The Undo is only good for undoing what you just got rid of, not something you removed several deletes back.

The same holds true while you’re recording. If you make a major goof one trick I’ve learned is to snap my fingers near the microphone. This will create a big spike on your Audacity recording so you have a visual which makes it easy to go back and figure out where the error occurred and delete it later on. I will also snap my fingers again when I’m restarting so I can find the dead area between the snaps to delete.

As a rule I DO NOT stop the recording when I make a mistake. I use those snaps and keep recording. I’ll even do this when I’ve recorded a section but wasn’t happy with how it sounded to me. *Remember how I said in the last post that the headphones plug into the Blue Yeti microphone so I hear exactly what the mic is picking up*. Well if I feel I didn’t do a good job on that last section, I’ll snap and redo it. Believe me, those snapping fingers will become your best friend when it comes to editing your recording on Audacity. It makes it so easy to find those sections and delete them and it will save you a lot of time.

Okay, let’s say you’ve finished your recording and have gone through the process of deleting the sections you wanted removed. What comes next?  You’ll probably wind up with a raw version that sounds like this:

You can hear me taking breaths as well as a few noises that the mic still picked up in the background in spite of all my efforts to make things quiet in the room. Furthermore, the decibel levels in some areas will not meet ACX’s requirements. What do we do about those? Well, for sake of length I’m going to cover all of that in our next installment. Sorry if this leaves some of you hanging, but to cover the material properly it will probably be a lengthy entry complete with examples and YouTube links to videos where I learned a lot of what I will be covering.

So stay tuned and keep writing and practice reading aloud my friends.

%d bloggers like this: