Tag Archive: audience



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.

Hi again everyone.  Yes I know it’s been a few weeks since the last entry but I’ve been busy.  Started hearing back from my Beta-Readers and began making corrections to the manuscript.  Long process some days, but very necessary.  There were issues that got past me and my main editor, which is why I wanted more pairs of eyes looking the book over.

This was something I did not do enough of on my first book “The Bridge”.  Luckily, people were so enamored by the story that it still earned a lot of 5 star ratings.  However, it could have gotten more if I’d taken the time like I have been with “The Ship”.

Anyway, I ran across a new issue as I finished making the adjustments to the manuscript.  These came in the form of ‘formatting’ issues.  When you submit your MS Word document to Createspace, Kindle, or Smashwords they all have slightly different formats they want you to follow.  Luckily, you can do Kindle through Createspace when you set up the print copies of your book.  Createspace will automatically ask if you’d like them to format your book into Kindle form and send it on to them, saving you an extra download.  Smashwords however has it’s own format that they want you to use, so you’ll probably wind up with at least 2-3 copies of your manuscript that you need to address.

Once you’ve got them ready and submitted, all three companies will inspect your files to make sure it meets their individual guidelines.  However, the fun does not stop there.  They are only making sure you have the right format submitted and will tell you when you’ve got it right.  And you’re done, right?  WRONG!

All three will insist you ‘preview’ how your book will look when they put it up for sale.  My advice to you is this… “LOOK OVER EVERY SINGLE PAGE IN ALL THREE CASES!!!”  Sorry to shout like that, but this is a big issue and can really make or break the reputation you are building for yourself as an author.  Sometimes, issues will appear that you will have no idea are there until it’s too late.

When I released “The Bridge” the formatting went to hell and a hand basket.  I did not take the proper time to see how things looked and wound up losing stars in the reviews.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Look over every page of your book to make sure the indentations are lining up just right.  Scan to make sure no paragraphs have suddenly been fused together.  Watch for unusual symbols or keystrokes that appear out of nowhere.

And if you find any in one version of your book, immediately check the other files you are submitting to the other e-book and print book publishers you are using.  I did that this time and found little errors being repeated because all three files came from the same original manuscript file.

Yes, this takes time and can be a pain in the ass I’ll be the first to admit it.  However, our goal as Indie Authors is to make our books look great.  People are paying money to read what we create and we owe it to our fans to put out the best product we can.  We don’t have big publishers and agents behind us to check things over and make corrections.  It’s all on us in the end.  And remember, you want to build a good reputation for yourself as an author.  Your book’s appearance reflects on you.

Take the time to make your work the best it can be.  Make it shine like a star so when the readers get their hands on it they don’t have any annoying distractions that might take them away from your words.

Until next time, take care and keep writing.


This week I got 8 people lined up as “Beta-Readers” for my second novel “THE SHIP”.

For those not familiar with beta-readers, they are basically test readers for you book.  They will read the story and give you feedback on what they thought of it.  But what kind of feedback am I talking about?

Well this may vary from writer to writer.  For me I’m looking for the following feedback:

1-Did they like the story? (this is a given, I have to know whether or not the story is even working for my readers in the first place)

2-How was the pacing?  Did the story drag a lot, or was it too-fast paced and hard to keep up with?

3-Were the characters likable and did you come to care about them?  Did they intrigue you?  Did you want to see more of them in the future?  (I’m working on an ongoing series where I will rotate some of the cast from time to time)

4-Spelling errors?  (I’ve done my best but some things will still slip past me so a few more sets of eyes doesn’t hurt)

5-Grammatical issues?  (I’ve chosen my team from a variety of people including a few authors and grammar nazis who will be more than willing to point out areas of concern)

6-Did the story flow well?  Were there areas where there were contradictions in who was where during an action sequence?  Was there an idea that got confused and hard to follow?

7-FINALLY: What did they think of the piece overall?

This is a lot of questions I know, but this is the book’s testing ground.  One of your last chances to work out the bugs and iron out any problems before you unleash your work on the public.  And trust me, sometimes the public can be unforgiving and harsh.  Remember, most of them will be putting out money to buy your work, so make sure you strive to put out a really good product.  Your reputation is on the line whenever you put out a book.  Never slack off on quality or it’ll hurt the sales of your next book.

As I mentioned earlier in this entry, I’m doing a series.  So one of the things I made sure to do was get at least a couple of beta-readers who did NOT read the first book.  People are not always going to buy your books in order, so make sure you keep each story neat and self-contained that anyone can jump into whatever part of your series they happen to spot.  Give enough references to past events from earlier books so intrigue them enough to maybe want to check out the earlier books, but not detract from the one in their hands at that moment.

Beta-Readers can help your work tremendously.  And like editors, you don’t have to take EVERY suggestion they make to improve the book.  You want to keep faithful to your own vision, but weigh the pros and cons for each change.  Some may prove to be a master-stroke, while others may not.  After all beta-readers will not know your long-term vision for your book and have all the insights you do.  So be careful how you take their advice.

Finally, always be gracious even if they give advice you don’t agree with. Remember, they’re trying to help your book become something even better.

Until next time, take care and keep writing.


As most of you know by now, I’ve started work on my third novel.  What makes this book different though is the fact that I’m writing in the first person instead of the third person.  In the third person one tends to do a lot of “he said,” “She smiled”, etc.  Whereas the first person is a bit more personal in my opinion.  

Just about all writers like to let the audience inside their characters heads.  Some will do it in the “omniscient” style, where they let  reader see inside every characters head in the same scene all at once.  We’re allowed to know what they’re thinking, even if they don’t share their thoughts with the other characters.  Or  the author will let you inside one character’s head at a time.  This is called ‘limited perspective’ which is what I use a lot, where I only let you inside one character’s mind at a time, even within the same scene.  But I’ll indicate the ‘change’ of who’s head you’re inside of by putting a space break between paragraphs and clearly letting the audience know who’s point of view we’re now watching through.

 However, in first person perspective, you get a narrator who tells the entire story.  You’ll see a lot of “I said…”, “I thought…” etc. etc.  While powerful, this point of view can be limiting since the audience can only know what the narrator knows.  We don’t get inside the heads of the other characters to see what they’re thinking, unless the author switches narrators between chapters.  This is kind of what I’m doing with “The Vampyre Blogs”.  

Like a real blog, the entire book is made up of entries, only in this case they are created by the different characters.  Each speaking in the first person perspective.  Bram Stoker used this style in “Dracula” and it worked really well.  Since I’m doing a vampire piece, using the same style seemed only natural.

But what I didn’t count on was how much fun I’m having with this style.  With each entry, I get to play with a new character.  Now, I took theater back in high school and had a blast with it.  I’m finding doing these ‘blog entries’ by different characters to be a lot like my theater experience.  I really get inside whichever character’s entry I’m working on, and get to be them.  I really get a chance to see through their eyes and get to know them in a deeper way than I have with my characters in the past.  Then when I’m done with that entry, I get to take mentally shed that character and don another persona and repeat the process.  I sometimes feel like I’m doing a one man show in front of an audience.  Only I’m doing it from behind a computer screen instead of being on stage.

Now I know for a lot of writers, getting inside a character’s head is normal.  I did it for my other novels, but as I mentioned just a little while ago, I feel like I’m getting to really know my characters more in depth than before.  Will I be able to keep going this deep when I return to the third person perspective?  I don’t know, yet.  I hope so.  Because I’m really enjoying the experience.  Just so long as I don’t get too caught up with them and lose myself so to speak.

 This whole experience is a fascinating journey of discovery for me.  What have some of your experiences with writing and getting to know your characters been like gang?  I’d love to hear about it.  Please feel free to share your experiences with the rest of us in the comments section below.

I’m afraid this is all I have to share for now.  Take care and keep writing everyone!

 

Why The New Blog?


Before I get into promoting my new blog, I thought I should explain myself to you all.  The reason why I’ve created “The Vampire Blogs” was simple.  It’s part experiment, and part story building.  With the popularity of vampires in books, it was only a matter of time before I found myself getting drawn in, although I had sworn to avoid the genre.  Yet, like any writer, I couldn’t help speculating on  “Well, if I did a vampire story, I’d make it more original and do this, this and this…”  Naturally, an idea came and began to snowball on me.

I wanted to keep most if not all the typical strengths and weaknesses of the traditional vampire, while at the same time making such a being fit into my Para-Earth Series world.  The being I would have a reasonable explanation for the various abilities such as shape-shifting, turning into mist, etc.   I would also give him a few new traits that fit with the being I had made him out of.  I won’t go into any more details at this point, because I don’t want to spoil things for the readers of the novel when it comes out.

So, I created Nathaniel and made him into a vampire.  Is he good or bad?  Well, I’ll let you all find out over at the other blog and in the book.  He’s human, let’s say that much.  He can be good or bad like any person.  It all depends on how he’s treated and if he’s pushed too far.

Still, none of this answers the original question of why I created an actual blog for a novel that isn’t going to be ready until December.  The answer is very simple.  I wanted to see if I could generate a lot of interest for the book, by giving my prospective audience and chance to get to know some of the characters in advance.  To let the readers inside these people’s heads and know where they’re coming from and what kind of lives they’ve led.  Remember, like in any book, these lives are going to be turned upside down and forever changed by the end of the novel.  Whether these changes are going to be for good or for bad, only time and the novel will tell.

But there was also a secondary purpose for creating the blog.  It is going to help me as a writer to get to know these characters as well.  I’ll have time to really figure out who they are, what events have shaped them, and what are their hopes and dreams.  I’ve encountered so many people who always wanted to know more about certain characters in books we’ve both read, but sadly the authors don’t always have the time to give us more.  Unless the writer is doing a long series, there are always so many unanswered questions about the people we meet within the pages of those books.  Maybe the author doesn’t even have all the answers, I know I didn’t sometimes.  So this time, I hope to have those answers and can share them in advance with all of you.

Whether or not this experiment is a success or failure, time will tell.  But you’re all invited to come along for the ride and see what happens.  Please leave feedback here or over at  “The Vampire Blogs”, because I’m looking forward to hearing people’s thoughts on what they are seeing.

I just finished putting up a new entry there today, where my lead character “Nathaniel Steward” has just finished his first entry.  Come and meet the vampire who I hope will capture your hearts and minds…

http://thevampyreblogs.blogspot.com/2014/01/first-blog-entry-of-nathanial-steward.html


Okay, in my last entry I disclosed I was working on a vampire novel.  Now this is a genre that has been done and redone so many times it’s unbelievable.  And almost every time there are new twists and turns added to it that they barely seem to resemble the traditional vampires that Bela Legosi and Christopher Lee made legendary in Hollywood.  Today we have vampires that just totally ooze sex appeal, can sparkle in daylight instead of turning to dust, can have sex and produce offspring, are either monsters or saints, etc.  And they are still as popular as ever in spite of all the changes to the original legend.

Now I’m not just talking about Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”.  That was not the first vampire story.  There were many others. If you ever get the opportunity check out “The Penguin Book Of Vampire Stories” and you’ll see ones that predate Mr. Stoker’s work by quite a few years.  But in that collection you’ll also meet other kinds of vampires: snow vampires, ones who hide inside portratis, aliens on different planets, etc.  In this collection there are creatures of all sorts and shapes that are still called vampires.

This brings me to today’s subject.  How can you breathe new life into a genre that has been written about so many times over?  Well that’s up to the writer.  As in the case of Anne Rice, Stephenie Meyer and others, they tweek the original vampire concept to suit their story ideas.  Sometimes they provide and explanation about why their creations don’t adhere to all the old legends, sometimes not.

So, you may be thinking, “Okay Allan, how are you going to ‘tweek’ the vampire concept and make it fresh and different?  What changes are you going to make to the traditional weaknesses and rules?”

Here’s my answer.  All the traditional rules of garlic, being welcomed into a place, avoid sunlight, shape-shift, control minions, etc. will be in effect.  So where am I making the change?  Simple, my vampire is NOT undead.

At this point I’m sure a number of you are thinking if he’s not undead then he can’t be supernatural.  So how can all those limitations and vulnerabilities still apply to him?  That’s where the creative writing process comes in.  All of these things will be addressed in the story.  And it won’t just be about a biography about my vampire.  There will be dangers.  The internet allows people access to a lot of information.  And this story will be taking place in modern day.  So there will be suspicious townspeople, cops on the hunt, the threat of discovery, a ghost, and villains (human and otherwise) to be battled.

So there you have it.  A new take on a much used subject.  But instead of changing all the rules, I’m working with them and making new reasons for why they apply.  And in doing so, I’m hoping that a number of you are already really intrigued and are looking forward to checking the story out when it’s ready.  If this is the case, then I’ve succeeded in breathing new life and interest into a genre that has been worked and reworked many times over.  And it can be done with so many other genres such as fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, you name it.

So what genre or legendary creature/being have you thought about working on?  Is there one close to your heart that’s been done a lot already?  If so, how can you make it new and interesting?  Are there rules for how it behaves or can be dealt with and what are the explanations behind it?  Is there a new way to approach these things?  Give us a new spin on it that still makes sense and intrigues us.

I’d love to hear from you and so would other people who read this blog.  Leave comments below and tell us a little about what you are working on or have in mind.  Be careful not to give your whole idea away.  Just leave tantalizing hints that will get us revved up to check your work out as soon as it’s ready.

Until next time,  keep writing.

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