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THE ART OF NARRATING AUDIOBOOKS

Posted by on Aug 7, 2018 in Blog, Books, Media Sharing | Comments Off on THE ART OF NARRATING AUDIOBOOKS

My debut novel, A Heart Set Free, was recently narrated by Cecily White. From an author’s point of view, I found the process of making an audiobook to be fascinating.

My publisher sent me some preliminary questions asking about the pronunciation of the characters’ voices, locations, and proper names. I selected the narrator’s accent-British-Edinburgh, age-adult, and style-feminine. Cecily read sample pages, and I was delighted. I answered some questions and she proceeded to narrate the entire book. I was amazed at the minuscule and truly minor corrections needed, and they were made. Narrators receive a percentage of sales of audiobooks. 

Perhaps, like me, you’re curious as to how someone decides to pursue this craft. Cecily White has generously offered to share some insights.

Cecily, please tell us a bit about your background.

I was interested in acting from a young age and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Theater with an emphasis in Acting from California State University at Fullerton.  Two years later, I became a Christian and thought that surely acting was a thing of the past because my values were now at odds with most of what could be found on stage and screen.  To get grounded in my new faith, I attended Calvary Chapel Bible College, Murrieta Campus, and earned a Bachelor of Biblical Studies.  I also met my husband there!

What motivated you to become a book narrator?

One morning about three years ago, I heard a voice actor being interviewed on a podcast. He mentioned that voiceover had changed and that most voice actors did their work in a home studio. This passing comment was like a flash of lightning for me.  You can act at home by yourself?! I’ve always delighted in reading aloud to my children and we have had fun listening to audiobooks together on occasion. I never thought that it was something that I could actually do as a profession until I heard that podcast.

What was the process of entering this industry?

I looked it up online, of course! I spent the next two years learning about voice acting and the technical production that goes with it.  I watched webinars and videos, read articles and forums, and took an online class. At first, I thought that I would not be able to do audiobooks because it appeared that narrators were recording entire books in just a few days.  While this is true for narrators who work full-time at it, there are also opportunities for narrators who have time restrictions.  In my research, I discovered ACX, Audiobook Creation Exchange, which is a forum that connects narrators with people who own the audio rights to a published book. When I felt I was ready, I made a profile, recorded some demos, and started auditioning!

How long and how many books and what genres have you narrated?

I have been narrating for just over a year and in that time have completed seven audiobooks.  I started with a short non-fiction title, which made it easier to go through all the learning stages that happen with a first book.  After that, I have narrated what can be categorized as Historical Christian Romance.

How do you prepare? Do you read the book or parts of it before beginning the project or do you start without any background on the characters or how the story develops?

Because I don’t want to voice any story that dishonors God, I read the entire book before accepting a contract.  I also take that time to find out what accents and special pronunciations (such as medical, legal, or historical terms) are involved. Once the contract is set, I read the book again and make a note about each character’s personality and jot down any information that the author gives about his or her voice.  Then I spend a recording session making a small audio file for every character who has more than one or two lines, giving each a unique voice and if possible a “tagline.” This “tagline” allows me to quickly snap into a character when I hear the line and repeat it, even if I haven’t voiced that character for a few chapters.  After that, I plug away at the book, chapter by chapter.

Being a narrator requires playing many different roles, both male and female. What do you find most challenging about your work?

The most challenging part for me at this point is time.  I restrict my recording hours to the early morning because of my family.  Therefore, I finish a book much more slowly than a full-time narrator.  My priority is to savor this time with my children because they are growing up so fast!  I’ll have plenty of long, quiet days before I know it.

Do you have a particular genre you enjoy reading/narrating?

The genre I am narrating, Historical Christian Romance is a really good fit for me.  I enjoy the sweet stories, the variety of settings, and learning about the past. I’m definitely open to narrating other genres, though. As for reading, I love to read just about any Christian fiction.  I’m on a big suspense kick right now.

Thank you so much, Cecily, for opening the curtain so we could learn more about your craft.

BIO:  Cecily White is a wife, mom of four, homeschool teacher, and audiobook narrator.  As such, she has been married for 17 years, is soon to have another driver in the house (yikes!), currently teaches her two youngest at home, and looks forward to bringing more and more books to life! She can be reached at cecilywhitevoiceover@gmail.com.

 

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DISTRACTIONS AND OTHER NEWS

Posted by on Jul 27, 2018 in Blog, Books, Family, Uncategorized | 8 comments

Dictionary.com defines Distraction as that which distracts, divides the attention, or prevents concentration: that which amuses, entertains, or diverts; amusement; entertainment: and division or disorder caused by dissension; tumult.

I’ve been living with distractions for a few weeks.

~  Laddie, West Highland White Terrier joined our family at the end of June. He amuses, entertains, and definitely diverts our attention, making getting much-done very challenging. We love the wee pup, and we are all in the process of “being trained”.

~  A bad bout of lower back and leg pain has distracted and prevented my concentration, along with not being able to sit at my desk or anyplace else. Fortunately, it is finally diagnosed and I’m being treated with meds and the proper physical therapy so it should improve … soon, I hope.

~  My website was down for nearly three weeks causing some division and disorder by dissension and tumult. I’m grateful to now have an up-and-running website.

The answer to all of the above is patience and perseverance.

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope”  Romans 5:3-4

 

I’m eager to share some news: A Heart Set Free was beautifully narrated by Cecily White. Cecily did a wonderful job and didn’t let the challenge of some of the characters’ Scottish dialects slow her down. More on that in a future post.

 

In a little over three months – on October 1, 2018, A Heart For Freedom releases. This is the sequel to Selah Award Winner A Heart Set Free. It is is a stand-alone book that picks up the Stewarts’ five years later, in 1775 when the American Revolution begins. Here is the blurb from the back of the book:

He longs for freedom, but he won’t risk those he loves.

Matthew Stewart wants only to farm, manage his inn, and protect his family. But tension between the Loyalists and Patriots is mounting. When he’s asked to help the Patriots and assured his family will be safe, he agrees.

She’s seen the cost of fighting England, and she wants no part of it.

In Scotland, Heather Stewart witnessed the devastation and political consequences of opposing England. She wants only to avoid war and protect the family and peace she finally found in Virginia. But the war drums can be heard even from home in the countryside, and she has no power to stop the approaching danger.

The consequences are deadly.

When Matthew leaves for a short journey and doesn’t return, Heather faces the biggest trial of her life. Will she give up hope of seeing him again? Will he survive the trials and make his way home? What will be the consequences of his heart for freedom?

A Heart For Freedom is available for pre-order on Amazon. I hope you will enjoy this story and consider writing a review.

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An Interview with Clarice James, author of Manhattan Grace

Posted by on Jun 8, 2018 in Blog, Books | 8 comments

 

Clarice James

and voila!

Your theatrical knowledge is impressive. Do you have a background in theater?

No, I don’t have a background in theater, but I called on a few friends who do to supplement my extensive research.  

Manhattan Grace also enlightened me on aspects of Judaism I’d never known before. Do you have a background or experience that drew you to incorporate these practices into the story?

A few years back a missionary friend serving in the hills of Israel mentioned that the mohel (circumciser) serving their poor region only had one eye. That little tidbit fueled my imagination. Since my pastor identifies closely with the Jewish roots of Christianity, we’ve often had Messianic speakers at our church. Mix in a little research and sing a few songs from Fiddler on the Roof and you get Seymour! 

Your sense of humor always comes through. I can’t even develop questions about your books without laughing. Your contemporary stories incorporate quirky characters, interesting events, inspiration, a bit of romance, and some mystery. What aspect (humor, inspiration, romance, mystery) is your favorite to write?

Since I’m not a mushy or serious person in real life, I’m more comfortable writing quirky characters in funny situations—sometimes based on my real-life experiences. I enjoy writing authentic dialogue, too.

In your experience as a writer, you’ve shared in the past the importance of having a critique group. Do they write in the same genre as your stories? Since your husband is also an author, I’m curious, is he your first “editor” and if so, how does it work for you?

I had previously facilitated a large writers’ group. Eventually, six of us spun off into a group all working on novels. I am the only one who writes women’s contemporary fiction. The others write speculative fiction or fantasy. Ironically, I got my husband involved to help me critique their excerpts. He’s an integral part of our group now. Yes, we do submit our excerpts to each other first.

So, tell us, what you are working on now and when might it be available?

I’ve completed my fourth women’s contemporary novel. The working title is Reconciliation for Charlie. The storyline is much more serious than my previous books, but I may have to go back and add some humor. If all goes well, it will be out in 2019.

I’ve just begun my fifth, the working title is The Least of These. I have a vague idea where the story is going, but I expect it will take a few sharp turns before I’m finished.

How can readers find your books?

Readers can ask for my books at their local bookstores or find them online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

FEATURED BOOK: Manhattan Grace

AUTHOR: Clarice G. James

PUBLISHER: Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.

GENRE: Women’s Contemporary Fiction

MANHATTAN GRACE BOOK COVER BLURB:  When a door opens for Gracie Camden to leave Cape Cod and move to Manhattan as a nanny for a Juilliard drama instructor, she fully expects God to use her acting talent and launch her to stardom. She’s been there been six months. What’s taking him so long?

 

Manhattan Grace: https://www.amazon.com/Manhattan-Grace-Clarice-G-James/dp/1948888130/

Party of One: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946638137

Double Header: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B018A9G40W/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

 

What are your social media sites?

Clarice G. James Website: https://claricejames.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clarice.g.james

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClariceGJames

Email: cjames@claricejames.com

 

A GIVEAWAY for a Continental US commenter: The choice of one print copy of any of Clarice’s three books.  A winner will be chosen on June 12, 2018.  You’ll be glad you entered.

 

AUTHOR BIO: Clarice G. James writes smart, fun, relatable contemporary women’s fiction from a Christian perspective. Manhattan Grace (Elk Lake Publishing, Inc., 2018) is her most recent novel. Her previous novels include Party of One (Elk Lake Publishing, Inc., 2017) and Double Header (Mountainview Books, 2015). Clarice grew up on Cape Cod, but she and her husband David now live in southern New Hampshire. Together, they have five married children and ten grandchildren. When Clarice isn’t writing, she’s reading, encouraging fellow writers, participating in ladies Bible studies, or involved in a home decorating project.

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Cover Reveal for A Heart For Freedom

Posted by on May 18, 2018 in Blog, Books, History | 4 comments

It is always such fun for an author to see the cover of their newest book. So I am sharing it with you. A Heart For Freedom is scheduled to release on October 1, 2018.

 

A Heart For Freedom is a stand-alone book, but continues Matthew and  Heather’s story begun in A Heart Set Free.  I hope those of you who have read and enjoyed the first story will enjoy this one as well.

By 1775, the conflict has escalated between Loyalists and Patriots throughout the colonies. The Stewarts’ ordinary and the surrounding Virginia countryside are not immune from the strife, pitting friends, neighbors, and families against each other.

Matthew Stewart has avoided taking sides and wants only to farm, manage Stewarts’ Green, and raise his family. But political tensions are heating up and circumstances and connections convince him that he should answer a call to aid the Patriot cause … with conditions.

Heather Stewart, born and raised in Scotland, has witnessed the devastation and political consequences of opposing England. Threatened by the prospect of war, she wants only to avoid it, and protect the family and peace she sought and finally found in Virginia.

The journey the Stewarts take is not an easy one and will involve sacrifice, and questioned loyalties. Lives and relationships will be changed forever. Ultimately the knowledge that God is faithful will equip them with courage to face the future … with a heart for freedom.

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REFLECTIONS ON MOTHER’S DAY

Posted by on May 10, 2018 in Blog, Journal | 8 comments

A holiday fraught with so many different emotions for people, many which I addressed in a Mother’s Day blog post four years ago. 

https://janetgrunst.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=705&action=edit

This year as I reflect on Mother’s Day, I give thanks for my mother-in-law and my mother. When I think of these ladies,  the word spunk plays through my mind. 

I grieve because one Mom will leave this life within days of this Mother’s Day, the other Mom left this life within days of Mother’s Day thirty-eight years ago.

My husband and I wait for news of the imminent death of his ninety-nine-year-old mom. She is quickly fading. She didn’t live a remarkable life as the world views success. But this lady faced life with grace and grit. Like so many others, her husband served his country in Europe during WWII, leaving her at home with a baby son. Fortunately, she had a large and close family in their small mid-western town. When the war ended, her husband returned and they had a second son. But when their boys were thirteen and seven her husband died from cancer. A woman of strong faith, she soldiered on, got a job, and raised two godly sons. Life wasn’t always easy, but she had spunk and lived many years serving her family and her church.

My mother was not able to continue her education beyond the eighth grade because her father was a naval officer and the family was stationed in Asia. She didn’t let the lack of formal education keep her from continuing to educate herself. She was an avid reader who loved to learn. Raised in the 1930’s, she was not allowed to get a job because her parents thought it unseemly. She married in her mid-twenties to a naval officer and served as a wife, mother, and in the many different roles that were part of being a senior officer’s wife. Again, not a remarkable life by the world’s standards, but a wonderful role model in so many ways. She was a wonderful cook, played the organ, keep the books, sewed, and made hats to perfection. She faced the many moves with grace, grit, and a positive attitude. I am forever grateful for her spunk facing all of life’s challenges, even cancer that took her life thirty-eight years ago.

So there is a feeling of loss this Mother’s Day, but I am also inspired by these two remarkable women.

I hope this Mother’s Day, you can reflect on women who inspire you and give thanks.

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A WRITER’S WOES

Posted by on Apr 9, 2018 in Blog, Commentary, Uncategorized | 4 comments

Writing can be a very isolating and introspective pursuit.  Here are some thoughts that plague writers:

~ What if I can’t find an agent who wants to represent my work. If I do find one, will we be a good fit?

~ What if I can’t find a publisher who wants my manuscript?

~ With all the changes in the publishing industry and the decline in bookstores, it’s getting so much harder to get published.

~ There are so many other good writers out there, what makes me think my story will shine?

~ Facebook is a great place to connect with other writers and to applaud their successes. Some are getting contracts, others are elated about writing 2000 or 4000 words that day, all certainly praiseworthy. But some of us groan because it’s a struggle to get 300 words written in a day.

~ For those of us who rely heavily on research to write stories, we anguish in trying to get every detail right. But we love the research part of it, sometimes so much that we have a hard time getting back to writing the story. See how conflicted we are?

 ~ Okay, got the book published. What if the readers don’t like it? What if the publisher we prayed would say yes, is disappointed in sales and having second thoughts? What if they don’t want my next book?

~ And then there is the whole platform and marketing aspect. Many writers are introverts, so the prospect of self-promotion is daunting. Authors must be on all sorts of social media, have their own websites, hopefully, be featured on other’s websites or blogs, have book signings if possible, give talks; all which require a different skillset than making up stories. Marketing takes a lot of time.

~ Are we nuts?  Neurosis: a relatively mild personality disorder typified by excessive anxiety or indecision and a degree of social or interpersonal maladjustment.

But then:

I’m reminded that in writing inspirational fiction we don’t just write for the readers who hopefully like our stories, we write primarily for an audience of One.

~ Some of us believe we are called to write as a means of sharing our faith. Inspirational authors want to encourage and edify the reader as much as entertain them.  

~ We ask the Lord to direct us in every aspect of our vocation from the creation of the stories and their themes to opening the doors that He wants us to go through. We ask for patience needed to wait on His timing, which is typically not our own.

~ We aren’t to compare ourselves to others, just do the work we’ve been given to do, and do it with a grateful heart. Now I need to get back to writing that story. 

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 1Peter 4:10   

 

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