Books

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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Countdown to A Heart For Freedom

Posted by on Mar 6, 2018 in Blog, Books, History | 4 comments

A Heart For Freedom, the Sequel to A Heart Set Free releases in less than six months.

So much goes into the publication of a book. Like other authors who write historical fiction, I spend a lot of time researching the era, the locations, and every facet impacting the story. Then comes months of developing and writing the tale interspersed with prayer, constant editing, more prayer and more research.

Any fiction writer will tell you that a writer’s imagination is the foundation of the project. We picture what our characters look like, where they live, places they go.

                                         Stewarts’ Green

 

 

In a Heart For Freedom, Matthew and Heather Stewart’s dream of building an ordinary at their farm has been realized. This is a similar picture of Stewarts’ Green which Matthew and Heather Stewart built perpendicular to their original cottage. It’s only missing a bigger front porch.

 

 

A nearby pond as well as the Potomac River figure in both stories.  

            The pond at Stewarts’ Green 

   Potomac River near Stewarts’ Green

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict is escalating between Britain and the colonies. Like so many other families, the Stewarts struggle with the prospect of a war that divides friends and families.

I can’t wait to share more about this story, and someday the cover.

         

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Interview with Cindy Huff, author of Secrets & Charades

Posted by on Jan 21, 2018 in Blog, Books, Uncategorized | 2 comments

Please tell us something about yourself, Cindy. Secrets & Charades is your debut novel. Tell us a bit about your writing journey?

 Secrets & Charades took ten years to get published. I’ve been writing off and on since high school. Through those decades I’ve been published in a variety of periodicals and when my oldest was small I wrote scripts for Children’s Bible Hour and short stories for Bread for Children magazine. As they grew, and our life changed so did my writing projects. I was a guest columnist for our local paper while I was homeschooling my children. For several years I quit writing and when God impressed me to pick it up again novel writing became the focus. Secrets & Charades went through several rewrites as I learn the craft of novel writing. It was originally over 100,000 words. Many scenes were deleted never to see the light of day. When I was about to call it a great learning project and start something new I won the Editor’s Choice Award which entitled me professional edits that lead to a contract with LPC publishers. During the time I waited for my manuscript to find a home I did all I could to build a platform (even a small one) by attending conferences, creating a blog and joining Word Weavers. I subscribe to several writing blogs that have helped me grasp so many nuances of the fiction writing life. The people I’ve meant helped me get endorsements for S & C and opened doors for interviews.

Please share something about Secrets & Charades.

Dr. Evangeline Olson is the heroine of Secrets & Charades. But when she goes west as a mail order Bride she surprises her future husband with the truth that she is a doctor.  Jake thought he’d been writing Evangeline for a year only to discover her niece had been writing him as Evangeline. Throughout the course of the story, more secrets are revealed surrounding the Double M and the town of Charleton. Evangeline’s past influences her to become a doctor. Experiences in her life since the Civil War have made her a stronger less fragile woman than the average female of the 1800s. Jake’s Civil War service and the nightmares that accompanied him back home to Texas make him determined to make life easier for those he loves. I’ve come to know women who struggle with dark pasts and men with PTSD. I created my story to speak to their hearts. I wanted to remind them their past does not have to define them.  Placing their problems in a 1870s setting rather than modern day allows the reader to be distant but still relate.

Historical stories require extensive research. How do you go about researching your stories?

 I love the library. And I have a friend who is a history buff who lent me a pile of books. I purchased a few used books mostly diaries and memoirs that help me understand women’s mindsets during the mid-1800s and men dealing with what was then called soldier’s heart. Evangeline’s career and her need to go west as a mail-order bride came out of all that research. Some of the minor characters were based on information gleaned from all my research.

What drew you to the period and setting for the story?

 I love American History. After the Civil War, our country changed geographically, politically and scientifically. After the war there were fewer single men on the east coast and while the west lacked women. Mail order brides became the solution. Another change, women were seeking more education and the medical field was growing. Women’s suffrage was coming into its own. My setting is purely fictitious. But the storyline is peppered with real-life events from the time-period.

Is there a message or a spiritual theme in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

Ecclesiastes 3:7 He makes all things beautiful in His time. Rough times can lead to opportunities and self-discovery that bring peace and contentment we might never find without them.

God often teaches us something through our writing. What did you learn about life, faith, or yourself in the process of writing Secrets & Charades?

Evangeline was fearless and determined. I find myself not giving up as easily after spending months in her head.  I found God’s promises are always faithful. He helped me craft the story and in His time, I received a contract and holding the book in my hand is a constant reminder that His time is always perfect.

Can you tell us anything about any other books being released and/or your current work in process?

 My contemporary Romance New Duet comes out May 2018, published by Clean Reads. I got the idea while standing on the podium as part of the worship team. A what-if moment took off from there. The setting is Aurora, Illinois where I’ve lived for over 40 years.  I’m excited and blessed to share Isabella and Dan’s story. She’s a widow from an abusive relationship and he’s a wounded warrior trying hard to be normal after losing a leg.

I’m also editing a sequel to Secrets & Charades and starting a third story in the same setting. My mind is full of several other stories both historical and contemporary. We will see which ones make it on paper and between book covers.

Thank you so much, Cindy, for being my guest. I know folks will enjoy Secrets & Charades.

Janet, I am delighted to be here and look forward to making some new friends amongst your followers.

Where can readers find your books?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Charades-Cindy-Ervin-Huff

 Barnes & Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/secrets-charades-cindy-ervin-huff/1126086057?ean=9781946016140

LPC: https://www.shoplpc.com/product/secrets-charades/

What are your social media sites?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/author.huff11/about/?ref=page_internal and

         www.facebook.com/cindyehuff,

Twitter: @CindyErvinHuff,

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8029703-cindy-huff

Blog: www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com

Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Cindy-Huff/e/B01N9UAOZA/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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