A Noob’s Guide to Audiobooks with ACX – part 2 #audiobooks #writers #writingtips

So now you’ve set up your account, and know about royalties so what’s next?

  • How do I add my book?

Once your account is set up go to ADD MY TITLE link in the top right – this will allow you to search if you have the book on Amazon already or create a Title Profile for your book – This is what it says on the tin – Title – genre – word count – synopsis etc. If you have a decent following it’s more likely narrators will want to produce your book – especially with royalty share. It’s worth stating if you have an active blog, facebook following and other social media.

 

ACX4

 

Or Assert More Titles – this screen will also tell you if there are any offers to produce your book, how many are in production, if you have asserted a title but not produced it. ACx 3

ACX generally works in hours – so if you buy a book on Audible it’s so many listening hours

For an example, The Count of Monte Cristo comes up at between 40-50 hours depending on the version/narrator. It’s close on 100 chapters – Imagine how long that took to produce!

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Classics/The-Count-of-Monte-Cristo-Audiobook/B005GFRMBE/

But my poetry book is 18 minutes….

So keep in mind you will need to have the time available to listen to the files your narrator uploads before the book is approved. He or she will upload the files and these need to be listened to CAREFULLY. From the point of view of the narrator I have been told it’s 2- 2.5 hours of work per finished hour – so producing an audio book is NOT a quick process. It has to be checked for background noises, mispronunciations, and the timing has to be correct. There is a set time between chapters/scenes and ACX will not approve for sale if this is incorrect.

This is a legal contract – keep that in mind – so ensure you find the right narrator for your work. If you do have problems with the narrator there are ways to break the agreement but it is complicated and you may have to pay out for work done. When setting up you are asked to provide a 5 minute sample in PDF – say a chapter – so narrators can audition. This should give you an idea of how the narrator sounds.

This is where you can specify your preferred type of narrator – male/female; US/English etc. It’s pretty specific. Of course, you may not get the ideal person you’ve imagined so keep an open mind.

5 )How do I find a narrator?

Ideally, they come to you but all the narrators have profiles so you can search and approach them if you wish.

It’s a lot more time consuming for the narrator – I understand it’s about two hours work per finished hour – and thenn they have to ensure there are no background noises, the pronunciation is alright, the gaps between the chapters are the right length etc. ACX has strict criteria about how long the silence is at the beginning or end of each chapter and if it’s too long or too short they won’t approve it. Honestly, I can’t tell unless it’s really obvious so I have to trust my narrator on that.

Officially once the narrator has uploaded the files the author can request up to two rounds of editing – so the author needs to listen to the files carefully to decide on any changes. Some narrators will do more but as it’s so time-consuming the author can’t send them notes on every little thing unless it really is an error/revision.

The cover art – that has to be square (think a CD case) so that has to be adapted, but there is guidance in the FAQ.

Then there’s a suitable sample to be agreed.

Once both sides are happy the narrator signs off his or her side and the author approves it.

The book will then go to review – which can take a couple of weeks. It’s checked for obvious errors, whether it meets the sound quality and the time between chapters. At this point, it’s possible for ACX to reject (say there is a big silence between chapter 1 and chapter 2). Changes can be made if requested by ACX. Once it’s approved it will ‘head to retail’ and appear in the store a week or so later.

Once or twice I’ve had to contact ACX support (long story) but they aren’t great. The changes took weeks to go through, even though I was told it would be a couple of days. I had to email regularly for updates. That said if it’s an easy question then they do respond.

 

 

 

 

A noob’s guide to audio books with ACX – part 1 #audio #writers #writingtips

I love having audio books, and I love listening to audio books. Recently I was helping another author with advice on getting her books converted to audio. I thought I’d share my notes.

A quick guide on turning your book into an audio book with ACX – part 1

  • Why should I turn my book into an audio edition?

Audio books are very popular – they are great for the commute to work (which is usually when I listen to them), around the house, in bed or just about anywhere. Many people don’t have the time to sit and read, but as an audio book can be playing whilst you do other things a listener can hear and appreciate the story and not need to put time aside to look at a book. They are also, of course, a great format for people with restricted sight, who might find it difficult or impossible to read from a book or e-reader.

As an author, it is also very useful to have your books in as many accessible formats as possible. More avenues of sale = more potential sales.

 

  • What is ACX and how do I sign up?

https://www.acx.com/help/authors/200484540 – author help and advice

ACX distributes to Amazon, Audible (an Amazon company) and I-books and if you have an Amazon account then you can use that to log in. Otherwise, it’s a case of setting it up. ACX has a reasonable set of help pages https://www.acx.com/help/about-acx/200484860 and it’s useful to start there. Do read the TOS and the FAQ, it will save a lot of heartache later if something goes wrong or you don’t understand something.

You have to provide your bank details, tax info and all the usual legal and financial malarky otherwise you won’t get paid. And yes, if you aren’t a US citizen you still need to provide your tax details – the IRS states that ANY goods sold in or through the US are subject to tax. This is NOT Amazon’s rule – it’s the law. If you are not a US citizen and your country has a withholding agreement hopefully you will not actually have to pay the tax – it still gets declared though. Anyway enough of that tedium.

‘Anyone who holds the rights to an audiobook (a Rights Holder) can connect with the people who can get those audiobooks made (the Producers).’

https://www.acx.com/help/a-marketplace-for-you/200487070

Basically, if you are the copyright holder you can turn your book into an audio edition.

https://www.acx.com/help/how-it-works/200484210ACX image 1

  • What are the royalties?

ROYALTY SHARE it will 20% for you and 20% for the narrator. ACX sets the price so you won’t necessarily know what you’ll get.

NON ROYALTY SHARE means you’ll get 40% but you will have to pay the narrator up front. Narrators will state their fee (expect to pay out quite a bit for a novel) but of course, once it’s paid then any royalties are all yours.

Some narrators only work for money up front so royalty share does restrict your pool of talent – but it still quite large.

There is also $50 bonus scheme – put simply this means if yours is the first book a new customer buys with their audible credits you get a bonus ($25 if royalty share).

Royalties are paid monthly, at the end of the second month (So Jan paid in Feb, Feb in March etc). Personally, I find the payments confusing – as there are payments for:

AL: Audible Listener – purchases made by members with membership credits.

ALOP: Audible Listener Over Plan – purchases made by members with cash (not with membership credits).

ALC: A la carte – purchases made by customers, not in an Audible Listener membership.

Basically, members buying with credits, members without credits and non-members with cash.

Thus far I have not managed to work out how ACX defines the separate payments for these.

You’ll be sent an email saying royalties are now payable. Log in to your sales dashboard and this will show you how many of each title you’ve sold.  Below this is the earnings report page – you can download a summary report (says how many you’ve sold of each title per month) and a royalty report (how much money is coming your way).ACX sales page image for blog

 

More information to follow on how to upload your book, and finding a narrator.

Audio Book Narrator Interview 9 – Lauren Ezzo

*Name: Lauren Ezzo

*Tell us a bit about yourself:  I was born and raised in East Lansing, MI. I’ve loved literature since I was little, and in 2014 received my BA in English/Theatre from Hope College in Holland, MI. Currently I’m a freelance narrator and actor based in the Midwest!

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? My first year out of college, a friend working a Brilliance Publishing sent me an audition notice. I went into their studio, read some Twilight and some Neil Gaimain, and was taken on! I thought if nothing else it’d be a fun new section on my resume. Two years later, and here we are!

 

What are you working on at present/Just finished?  Just finished a book of poetry inspired by/chronicling The Donner Party! It’s called To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of The Donner Party. It’s a super interesting and emotional read — not to mention unorthodox! And it’s based on a real member of the party.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  The recording process itself depends on where/with whom I’m recording, but my prep is generally always the same: When I receive the manuscript I do a quick read/skim to see what I’m getting into. As recording approaches, I re-read several more times and jot down “specials” — words I’m unfamiliar with, specific author notes, place names, anything out of the ordinary. I consider each character leading up to the reading — where they fit in the story, and what sort of voice the author’s given them on paper. I love to communicate with authors in this regard — often their inspiration will ring a bell in my brain. Beyond that, lots of tea, coffee, and snacks.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  Everything!!! I get paid to read!!!! I’m an actor first and foremost, so it’s a great challenge to see how much nuance and meaning I can imbue a story with using just my voice. I’ve learned so much about writing, storytelling, dialect, character, pacing….Also it’s a great conversation starter at parties.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? Oh yes! If the book is intriguing, royalty share is totally acceptable. I won’t turn down a book I really enjoy and have faith simply because the payment is royalty share. I’m not an author, but I can imagine that self-publishing takes just as much work as narration (and probably a bit more money). That being said, if an author can afford a PFH rate, I would recommend going this route. Narrators (myself included) are more likely to seek these titles out first, since they’re often paying second and third parties to record, edit, master, etc. Additionally, a seasoned narrator will typically only record with a PFH — but this is WELL worth the investment. You get what you pay for, and armchair narrators can definitely impact your audiobook’s sales.

Do you listen to audiobooks? I didn’t before I began recording, but I do now! I just finished Squirrel Meets Chipmunk by David Sedaris, which features Elaine Stritch. Hilarious.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling?Absolutely. Actually, just last month WSJ published an article confirming that audiobooks are the fastest growing publishing format in publishing! (I’m including the link below). Audiobooks, ebooks, smartphones, and the like will never replace flesh and blood books, but there is something to be said about audiobooks and the future of storytelling. Audiobooks create relationships; the performative aspect engages and it’s impossible to not respond to another human voice (even if it’s a negative response). Audiobooks are also becoming necessities — for those with learning disabilities like dyslexia or ADD, or corporate learning.

(http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-fastest-growing-format-in-publishing-audiobooks-1469139910 )

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular?Convenience, and the human element. You don’t need to be stationary to listen to an audiobook…and having Sissy Spacek read To Kill a Mockingbird to you personally is pretty cool.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? My own! The CEO Buys In, by Nancy Herkness.

 

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. How about two truths and a lie? I’m a Gemini, I bought a couch this week, I keep up with the Kardashians (I know, I know…) Get in touch with a correct guess and I will send you a prize!

Social Media links:

By all means, please follow, contact, and share! I love hearing from people 🙂

Website: www.laurenezzo.com

ACX: https://www.acx.com/narrator?p=A2BGEGYCIIX0EQ

Audible: http://www.audible.com/search?searchNarrator=Lauren+Ezzo

Twitter: @singlewithfries

Back Catalogue 6 – Audiobooks

 

Hi folks, another ‘back catalogue’ interview. Originally published as http://thaddeusthesixth.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/how-to-make-audiobook-interview-with.html. Do check out this blog and the fantasy books of Thaddeus White – well worth the read.

 

How to Make an Audiobook – interview with Alexandra Butcher

 

Publishing has undergone something of a revolution in recent years, with the advent of e-books and e-readers making it easier than ever to self-publish. There’s also been a resurgence in the popularity of audiobooks. But how does one go about making an audiobook? To answer that (and other) questions, I’ve been joined by Alexandra Butcher, who has recently created the audiobook of The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles.

 

 

What’s the premise of The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles?

 

The book is set in the world of Erana where magic is outlawed and elves enslaved to the humans. The land is run by the Order of Witch-Hunters – a corrupt organisation who rule by fear and division. Magic still persists. It’s a case of either someone is magical or they aren’t, it’s something a person is born with. How well that person hides their skills can mean life or death. The slavers, too, have a lot of power. Slavery is not illegal – in fact the Witch-Hunters encourage it – the trade of flesh pays well and so the Order gets a cut. It also helps to instil fear in the population.

The book begins with Dii, an elven sorceress who had fled from her Keeper, or slave owner’s, home after years of terrible treatment. She knows next to nothing about the world outside – except it’s a very dangerous place and soon enough she encounters the Order.

We then meet Archos, another sorcerer, who is also a wealthy noble and more besides who, unbeknown to the Order, is working to help the elves and other mages escape from servitude or execution. When the slavers ravage a nearby elven village Archos and Dii set out to try and rescue the missing elves and avenge the village, whilst trying to avoid capture by the Order and other jealous enemies.

It’s been labelled ‘sex and sorcery’ as it’s definitely an adult book as there are elements of romance and erotica. It’s pretty steamy in places 😉 Foremost it’s fantasy/sword and sorcery.

 

It’s recently, as mentioned, been converted into an audiobook. How long did it take, from start to finish, to create and publish the audiobook version?

 

Oh gosh – in the end it was about a year – but part of that was because I was revising the book for a third edition and I had to wait for the editor to do her stuff. The narrator – Rob Goll – was the chap who narrated Tales of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse so I had the advantage I’d worked with him before. Rob had several other commitments – including a Shakespeare festival and narration for Heroika: Dragon Eaters which, as I’d recommended him for I couldn’t really complain. Once Rob had made a start it was actually fairly quick – probably about a month.

As I’d worked with Rob before and I liked his work and style I suggested he audition for Light Beyond so I’d pretty much made my choice of narrator already. With another title of mine Outside the Walls we had a couple of people audition and, as the book was a co-write, it had to be someone both myself and Diana liked. It’s possible to have several narrators audition or none. So it can take time to find the correct person.

It’s a lot more time consuming for the narrator – I understand it’s about two hours work per finished hour – and them they have to ensure there are no background noises, the pronunciation is alright, the gaps between the chapters are the right length etc. ACX has strict criteria about how long the silence is at the beginning or end of each chapter and if it’s too long or too short they won’t approve it. Honestly I can’t tell unless it’s really obvious so I have to trust my narrator on that.

I was lucky with Rob – he’s very professional and there was only one edit and that was my fault… That’s a risk, too, as the audio has to match the manuscript perfectly or the whispersync doesn’t work. If there is a difference, or a mistake then that has to be rectified. Also sometimes when listening the author discovers a particular scene or line doesn’t really work – so that needs to be changed in the MS. It’s a great way of finding those pesky typos that might have sneaked in under the radar. Whether Rob had to do multiple records I don’t know – he didn’t say.

Officially once the narrator has uploaded the files the author can request up to two rounds of editing – so the author needs to listen to the files carefully to decide on any changes. Some narrators will do more but as it’s so time consuming the author can’t send them notes on every little thing unless it really is an error/revision.

The cover art – that has to be square (think a CD case) so that has to be adapted. Then there’s a suitable sample…

 

Audiobooks seem to be enjoying a resurgence as MP3 players are so commonplace and they can be listened to on the commute to work, whilst walking or doing household chores. Excepting your own, do you have a favourite audiobook?

I have a few I haven’t listened to yet (no headphones for my phone and my old phone went into meltdown if I tried to install audible) but I have a version of Phantom of the Opera I love, and Les Miserable – although off hand I can’t remember who narrated. I’ve listened to Chris Morris narrate some work, and other books Rob has done.

I’ve just bought Count of Monte Christo, Dracula and Soul Music, so I need to get listening!

With the classics there are usually a few versions – so the samples are a good way to find a narrator you like.

 

Self-publishing has taken off in a major way for written books. Apart from (obviously) needing the written text, what else do you need to go down the audiobook route?

 

Patience! Each chapter which is uploaded has to be listened to, usually a couple of times, and cross referenced with the manuscript for revisions, background noise, dips in volume, odd sounds pronunciation issues – often the narrator will pick up any sound related issues – but some can slip through.

A book I have just bought on audible is over 50 listening hours so you can imagine the work that went into that!

As I said the cover art has to be reproduced – it’s a bit fiddly – especially if the author has purchased a cover and needs to go back to the cover artist and ask them to do it.

 

How does a writer go about hiring a narrator, and how does the pricing work (is it a fixed fee or does the narrator get a royalty per copy sold)?

There are two payment options available for author/narrators price per finished hour or royalty share. From what I’ve seen quite a few narrators will only offer price per hour – after all the book may not sell many copies so they may not ever a great deal of money for all the work. I can see their point. I’ve not worked with anyone who has only asked for pay per finished hour but I understand the fees vary – so it is up to the narrator and author to negotiate. If the author opts for pay per hour the royalties from the sales belong solely to the author – after all the narrator has already been paid. I think it works out at about 40% royalty rate.

Royalty share is what it says on the tin. The narrator isn’t paid up front – they get a share of any royalties for the audio book sales. It works out at 20% for the author and 20% for the narrator.

This is for the exclusive production on ACX – there are other sites which produce audio so if the book is sold elsewhere then I think the royalty rate is dropped. I can’t recall exactly but I think it’s a seven-year contract.

Once the book is submitted to ACX the author fills in the required info – genre, preferred narrating style, royalty options etc. An author can request a specific type of narrator – British, male, middle aged, West Country for example – of course that limits the potential narrators but it is possible. I’d say it was better to be a bit more flexible. Narrators can then audition by reading the uploaded audition script – usually a five minute chunk of the MS. Sometime the narrators can approach the author with questions. ACX will contact the author/rightsholder and say there is an audition waiting for approval. In theory the author could wait until there are a few or take the first one that comes in if he or she likes it.

If the author likes the audition then he/she can make an offer to the narrator – so royalty share, time scale etc. If the narrator has a lot of other work on, and many of them are actors so may be working on shows, then obviously time scales are important. A 30 hour book would take 60 or more hours to produce and so that is unlikely to be done in a week.

Once both parties are happy the narrator accepts the offer and off you go. There is a lot of legal contract stuff to be considered – it is a contract between the narrator and author and ACX – If the narrator doesn’t turn up with the goods, or the quality is awful then the offer can be rescinded. If the author doesn’t pay up – or there are issues there, then the contract can be rescinded. It’s hard to do – and I think ACX have to mediate but it can be done. There is a 15-minute sample produced by the narrator – and this can be refused by the author, but that’s the only early get out. It’s worth the author reading these rules carefully as it IS a contract with all that entails. So make sure you find the right person for your project.

There are bounty payments too – basically if someone joins the audible members club with the subscription and your book is the first book they buy then the author (or author and narrator for royalty share) get a $50 bonus ($25) for royalty share. I think it’s an incentive to try and persuade people to get fans to sign up.

 

How long does the process take, and what level of direction to the narrator is needed? Did you provide a style guide for unusual fantasy terms?

The initial set up is pretty quick – sign up with the ACX account and claim the relevant book, produce the ‘audition script’ and upload it and wait for narrators to audition.

 

How do you like to listen to audiobooks?

I tend to listen on my laptop, but recently we were listening to Good Omens, Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy and Dune played on a tablet via a speaker before bed. My partner tends to listen to them more than I do at the moment. That’s the beauty – audio books are pretty versatile and one can dip in and out, just picking up where one left off.

 

Are there any pitfalls newcomers to making audiobooks should know about?

http://www.acx.com/help/how-it-works/200484210

Make sure you read the FAQ and the contract carefully. ACX actually has a good set of FAQ but their contact customer service is a bit lousy. I’ve had to deal with them a few times – mostly regarding payment of the bounty payments – and once when we discovered an issue that had got past both author, narrator and the quality control. They told me it would be fixed in a week – more like six and with questions regarding the bounty payments the person I spoke to seemed clueless and I ended up having to take screen shots of the issue – namely bounty payments were listed which I hadn’t received and apparently they couldn’t see them on the invoice… no because I hadn’t received them. That took a couple of months going back and forth before it was sorted. It pays to be polite but persistent.

AL: Audible Listener – purchases made by members with membership credits.

ALOP: Audible Listener Over Plan – purchases made by members with cash (not with membership credits).

ALC: A la carte – purchases made by customers not in an Audible Listener membership.

There are royalties for books bought outright by people not in the membership plan, books bought by members using their membership credits, books bought by members NOT using their credits and so the author has to work out what that relates to in actual payments – I get 68c for a ALC sale and a 55c for an AL sale on the same short story. But honestly it’s not always that clear. But they do pay monthly and the royalties usually do turn up on time…. Well except the bounty payments…

The reporting of sales is a bit flaky – it’s supposed to update daily but often doesn’t.

What’s nice is the author gets promotional codes to give out – usually for home store (Audible.co.uk OR Audible.com but can ask for the ones from the other store. It’s a useful way of getting reviews or being able to offer the books as prizes in events.

The email system they have is a bit rubbish – it doesn’t always work – and I’ve been told that by several narrators as well BUT it is useful to have and means you don’t have to give out a personal email if you don’t want to, and any issues you can email direct to ACX support. Oh and they have phone support. KDP doesn’t and that drives a lot of authors mad.

There are a lot of good marketing tips on the blog and ACX have a twitter account. The author needs to do their own marketing – same as KDP – so don’t expect ACX to market your book for you.

Make sure you have the time to put in to it. It’s not easy listening carefully to each chapter. You’re the author – it’s your book being produced and you need to know that it’s correct and done according to what you want. Keep in mind though that a narrator doesn’t know what’s going on in your head – he or she doesn’t know that you want Bob the Postman to speak with a Geordie accent unless it’s made clear in the MS or you tell them. You may not get the book exactly as you’ve imagined it.

Make sure you keep a good relationship with your narrator – especially if you want them to do subsequent books.

 

What are your plans for the future?

The Shining Citadel has been revised for a second edition and will appear in audio – hopefully by the end of 2016. (UPDATED ALB)

The Stolen Tower will eventually get produced as well but that will wait until the second edition as well, depending on how well Light Beyond sells.

I have just produced a short fantasy story set entitled The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales and that’s also just been produced in audio by J Scott Bennett, an American narrator.

Book IV of the series is being written and I’m also working on a Tales of Erana novella so that may well appear in audio in the next year or so.

Links and info

Author Bio:

  1. L. Butcher is the British author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles fantasy series, and several short stories in the fantasy and fantasy romance genres. She is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet and a dreamer. When she is grounded in the real world she likes science, natural history, history and monkeys. Her work has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as evocative.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6430414.A_L_Butcher

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alexandra-Butcher/e/B008BQFCC6/

Twitter:@libraryoferana

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

 

 

The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles series – an adult fantasy/fantasy romance series, with a touch of erotica.

Audio Book

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Light-Beyond-Storm-Chronicles-Book/dp/B01DAQRYV8/

http://www.amazon.com/Light-Beyond-Storm-Chronicles-Book/dp/B01DASVPLQ/

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Light-Beyond-the-Storm-Chronicles-Book-1-Audiobook/B01DAQSCIC/

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Light-Beyond-the-Storm-Chronicles-Book-1-Audiobook/B01DASV3PE/

Audiobook Narrator Interview Number Seven – Melanie Fraser

Name: Melanie Fraser

*Tell us a bit about yourself:

I was born in Cape Town, South Africa to where my father had moved during WWII. I made the decision at the age of 3 to become a ballet dancer! Following my training there and after the family moved to England – post-Sharpeville  – I continued full time theatre training. As an actress, singer and dancer I later appeared  in theatre, film and television. After a long break away from performing, during which time I qualified and taught professional classical ballet in the UK and abroad, I returned to acting and now perform on screen and as a voice over artist.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production?

Gary Terzza told me about BeeAudio’s new Studio Certification Course and that they were establishing a UK network. Helen Lloyd, with whom I had worked in a few theatre productions, runs the UK side. The course introduced me to audiobook narration as well as production.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these?

These are on audible (UK and USA sites)

‘A Gentleman’s Daughter: Her Love’ (Reina M Williams)

‘The Promise’ (Elizabeth Chappelle)

‘The Final Dawn’ (Alice Catherine Carter)

 ‘Princess in Peril’ (Janet Whitehead)

 ‘A Murderer’s Heart’ (Julie Elizabeth Powell)

 ‘Lady Concealed’ (Jane Bridges)

‘Dirty Business’ (Julie Elizabeth Powell)

 One of my favourites is The Final Dawn, a compelling story of treachery and murder set in Stalin’s era/

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this?

At the top of my list is espionage, then historical and crime/thrillers non-fiction and fiction as these stimulate my interest and I always buy these books.

I’m not drawn to narrate erotica, science fiction and fantasy (involving elves and pixies) and wouldn’t usually buy books in those genres.

What are you working on at present/Just finished?

Currently I am nearing completion of an historical fiction set during the Anglo-Boer War called, ‘Crossing the Vaal’ by Archie Vincent.  It is beautifully descriptive and my top favourite to date.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.)

I start by reading the whole book before auditioning. Production begins by marking up the whole script with any pronunciation, unusual words etc listed or researched. I liaise closely with the author if there are any queries.

The characters are all colour coded on the script and a spreadsheet sets out the ages, types of voice and other information for reference. Accents are sourced via the IDEA, You Tube, film and other archives. I engage a tutor – always a native speaker – in whatever foreign accent is needed.

After recording and proofing, the editing takes considerable time. My studio is in a quiet area. Nevertheless, noises such as cars, planes, lawnmowers, barking dogs occur, picked up by my extremely sensitive microphone and are all removed. Each chapter is paced and proofed again with a final QC done before mastering, saving to the required format and specifications of the publisher after which the whole production is uploaded. An ongoing backup procedure is followed throughout the production so that nothing is lost……

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? 

I love the actual narration and really enjoy getting totally immersed in the story.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this?

Yes, so far I have done mostly these but now give preference to projects with a PFH rate.

Do you listen to audiobooks?

Yes. I’m currently listening to David Rattray’s ‘The Day of the Dead Moon’ a thrilling history of the Zulu Wars in the 19thC.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling?

Whilst many people like listening to books whilst doing other things such as travelling, there are also people like me who prefer to read a book. For me it is partly because after many hours of working with sound, I like peace and quiet. I think they both have their value.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself.

I have a dimple on each shoulder!

Where can we learn more about you?

http://www.melaniefraser-voice.com

http://www.spotlight.com/5892-8977-4349

https://www.acx.com/narrator?p=A25CGL7F987D8R

http://www.beeaudio.com/narrator/melaniefraser

http://www.audible.co.uk/search?searchNarrator=Melanie+Fraser

uk.linkedin.com/in/melaniefraservoiceuk

Social Media links:

I am not on Facebook or Twitter

MELANIE HAS ALSO BEEN RECRUITED TO NARRATE OUTSIDE THE WALLS – my latest short story with Diana L Wicker.

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/outside-the-walls-fantasy-short-story-new-release/

Audiobook Narrator Interview Number Five – Fred Wolinsky

*Name: Fred Wolinsky

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I have been involved in performing practically all my life.  As a child, I put on puppet shows in my backyard (creating different characters, accents, and voices), and started making extra money performing magic and ventriloquism shows for parties and organizations.  I also got involved as an actor in school plays and community theatre.  From a young age, I was inspired by ventriloquist Paul Winchell and his many characters, as well as Mel Blanc and all of the different voices he created.

I graduated college with a degree in Theatre Arts, trained in New York City in voice, acting and dance, acted in Summer Stock, Off-Off-Broadway plays, regional theatre, and touring shows, and eventually joined  the actors unions.  I later started working full-time as a puppeteer, which led to the founding of my own puppet theatre company, Pegasus Productions, presenting shows with life-sized puppets and magic, which grew into a nationally touring company with 2 full-time troupes, which I continued to run through 1988.  The success of Pegasus lead me to found Encore Performing Arts, a not-for-profit agency which offered touring shows for children and family audiences of all kinds.  The fast growing company became a leader in the field of professional performances for children’s audiences.

All the while, I still continued acting, directing, and choreographing in local theatre productions.  In 1994, I was named “Best Actor of the Hudson Valley” by the Times Herald Record for my performance as Alan Turing in “Breaking the Code.” Since leaving my position at Encore in 2006, I have also been teaching Speech and Theatre on the college level, became a nationally certified American Sign Language Interpreter, and of course became a voice over artist and audiobook narrator/producer in the fall of 2013. I love bringing books to life and portraying all the different characters.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? Since I was a child, inspired by Mel Blanc and Paul Winchell, I dreamed of becoming a voice-over artist, but I took the long route to get here.  However, everything that I have done up until this time all contributed to my skills and abilities as a narrator/producer.  As a puppeteer and ventriloquist, I learned to create many different voices in conversation with each other.  As an actor, I learned to bring characters to life with an emotional  sincerity. As a director, I learned how to analyze scripts, interpret the work of the author, find the emotional core of the production, and develop a sense of pacing.  My ear for languages, helped me create characters with different accents — regional as well as international. While operating my puppet company, I made voice tracks for all the shows, so I learned how to edit and produce sound tracks. Running two businesses taught me how to manage my time, have integrity in my work, and live up to my commitments.

After retiring from Encore, my other work has been part-time, and I was looking for something to fill the slow spots.  A talented actress friend of mine began doing a lot of professional voice over work, so I used the opportunity to pick her brain.  She introduced me to ACX and taught me a lot about the business.  I purchased some equipment and started submitting audition files.  Then I started getting hired to narrate and produce books, and continued learning and growing on the job.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I currently have 34 books listed on Audible.com, and more in the works.  It is so hard to pick a favorite.  That is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. Some that I most enjoyed narrating the include “The Doorways Trilogy” books by Tim O’Rourke, “Island of Fog” series by Keith Robinson, “Fables and Fantasies” by Dale T. Phillips, “To Light the Dragon’s Fire” by Margaret Taylor, among others.  Here is a full list of my current titles on Audible:

– “The Feylands (The Hidden Lands Book 1)” by Peter Meredith
– “Island of Fog (Book 1)” by Keith Robinson
– “Labyrinth of Fire (Island of Fog Book 2)” by Keith Robinson
– “Doorways (book 1 of The Doorways Saga)” by best-selling author Tim O’Rourke
– “The League of Doorways (book 2 of The Doorways Saga)” by best-selling author Tim O’Rourke
– “To Light the Dragon’s Fire: Dragons, Griffons, and Centaurs, Oh My!” by Margaret Taylor
– “A Candle Star” by Michelle Isenhoff
– “A Demon’s Quest: The Beginning of the End” by Charles Carfagno
– “London Warriors” by Paul Rudd
– “Link” by D. A. Karr
– “The Veneer Clause” by Winfield H. Strock III
– “Hand Puppet Horror” by Benny Alano
– “A Song After Dark” by Grant Palmquist
– “Insanity Tales” by David Daniel, Stacey Longo, Dale T. Phillips, Vlad V., and Ursula Wong, with an introduction by Jonathan Maberry
– “Freedom Club” by Saul Garnell
– “Points of Origin” by Darden North
– “Diner Tales: A Contemporary Canterbury Anthology” by Andy Bunch
– “His Undoing: A Gay For You Erotic Short Story” by Aria Grace
– “Figures in Blue”; by Ted Morrissey
– “Fables and Fantasies”; by Dale T. Phillips
– “Apocalypse Tango” by Dale T. Phillips
– “Kevin Chandler and The Case of the Missing Dogs” by A. L. Jambor
– “Separate Lives” by Dale Roberts
– “The Dark Djin (Denny’s Tales)” by Andy R. Bunch
– “Promises Unfulfilled (Diner Tales)” by Andy R. Bunch
– “Monsters and Legends (Diner Tales)” by Andy R. Bunch
– “‘Twas the Night” by Robin Reed
– “Crooked Paths” by Dale T. Phillips
– “Halls of Horror: A 10 Story Collection” by Dale T. Phillips
– “Jumble Sale” by Dale T. Phillips
– “The Big Book of Genre Stories” by Dale T. Phillips
– “Tales of the Gray Ghost” by Bill Craig
– “The Package” by Cleve Sylcox
– “Wacky Waddles” by Miranda Hardy

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? Just like no actor is the right match for every role, no narrator is the right match for every book.  Each book requires different skills, different vocal qualities, and different styles.  There is really no genre that I would flat out not produce, but there are certain genres that I seem to be best suited for.

I have a unique voice, not your classic announcer voice, which is very well suited for certain books, and not as well suited for others. My strength is my versatility and my acting. What I excel at, and enjoy the most, is doing books that have a wide range of character voices, as well as a theatrical narrative. I love bringing each character to life vocally, making them jump off the page and come to life for the listener.  I also treat the narrator as a character, even when it is third person narration, reading it with a passion and emotion, as if really telling the story, not just reading it.

I have done many different genres successfully, but the genres that seem to most often fit my skills are fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, horror, and young adult.

What are you working on at present/just finished? As of this writing, I am finishing up “The Queen of Doorways (the Doorways saga, book 3)” by Tim O’Rourke. I am also working on “Mountain of Whispers (Island of Fog book 3)” by Keith Robinson, and am lined up to do “To Save the Broken Heart: Dragons, Griffons, and Centaurs, Oh My! book 2” by Margaret Taylor, and “The Sun King (The Hidden Lands Book 2)” by Peter Meredith.  These are all sequels of books that I have previously recorded, so obviously the writers have been pleased.

Tim O’Rourke, author of “The Doorways Saga” books had said to me after listening to the first book in the series, “The voices were perfect and the chapters seemed to burst with life…. The book really comes to life and even though I wrote it I got caught up in the story as if coming across it for the first time.”  Many authors have expressed similar sentiments.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I always start by reading the entire book, studying the characters and the style, and marking the script with color codes for different voices, as well as other performance notes.  I also communicate with the author to discuss his or her visions of the characters and clarify any questions.  I then record the book, doing a “punch editing” process, where I stop and start as often as necessary to perfect each phrase and get each voice just right, piecing the parts together as I go.  I tend to stop frequently to make adjustments to the phrasing until I am satisfied. While there are actually many different takes strung together, I need to make it sound as if the entire book is being read once-through without errors.  I aim to make it word perfect and be true to the author’s work.

When the book has many voices (as most of my books do), I make a separate sound file with samples of each character’s voice.  That way, if there is time between appearances of that character (or in the event of a series where it may be several months before I produce next book), I can refresh myself as to how each character sounds, and keep each voice consistent.

Then I do the final editing and mastering, carefully listening to and touching up each moment to cut out any extraneous noises, subdue any loud breaths, and perfect the timing and pauses, as well as master the sound levels to a consistent range.

The final step is to convert all the files to the proper format for uploading.

With preparation, recording, editing, mastering, and file conversion, it takes me approximately 10 hours of work to complete one hour of finished audio.  I may take a bit more time than some other narrators, but it pays off with the results. Just like putting together a theatre production, there is quite a bit of unseen work to make it sound natural, easy, and spontaneous.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?

I love creating the different character voices. I try to picture what each character would look like, act like, and sound like. I don’t just think about accent or voice quality, but personality as well. How would that character speak? It is especially fun creating the voices for fantasy characters. Those will often be inspired by animals and animal sounds, and sometimes I will enhance them electronically in the editing phase.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? When I first started narrating, I took anything that was offered.  Now, I am more selective. I prefer to be paid a flat fee (per finished hour) for my work. I will take some royalty share deals, but only if I think the book has a chance of a decent sales volume, so that I can be compensated for my work. I look at the quantity of reviews for that book, the past sales of the book, popularity of the other books from that author, as well as the amount and kind of promo that the author does and plans to do.

I have produced a few books for which ACX has offered a stipend. This provides the best of both worlds. ACX will pay the narrator/producer a fee per finished hour, plus the narrator/producer will also get a split of the royalties. Unfortunately, ACX only selects very few books for which they will grant this stipend. I have been fortunate to have been contracted for a few of these.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? As more people have access to audiobooks, and with the ever-increasing tendency in our culture to multitask, I do think that audiobooks will continue to rise in popularity.  However, I do not think it will ever replace print books (whether on paper or in electronic format). Audiobooks is a different media for storytelling, and each media has its pros and cons, and supporters and detractors. In reading, the reader creates the pictures and voices in their head rather than hearing the narrator’s interpretation. The reader has an easier option to jump back and forward, or skim through some sections than they do with audio. On the other hand, audiobooks can be listened to while driving or doing other things with your eyes and hands that you cannot do while reading a book. Also, if done well, audiobooks can really bring the story to life, creating a full movie in the listener’s mind.

Just like live theatre, movies, radio, TV, DVD, and other formats have only added to the options people have for entertainment, but have not replaced each other, I think audiobooks will become another popular form of storytelling.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I can wiggle my ears.

Where can we learn more about you?

My website is http://fredwolinsky.weebly.com/  Check it out, and fill out the “Contact” form if you would like to get on my email list for occasional announcements about new releases or special promotions.

My Goodreads page is https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8282586.Fred_Wolinsky  Follow me or friend me to keep up with my latest news.

Miraculously, I have somehow so far avoided getting involved with FaceBook and other social media sites.

Audio Book Narrator Interview Number Three – Neil Hellegers

Name: Neil Hellegers

Tell us a bit about yourself: I am an actor, educator, and narrator who lives in Brooklyn, NYC. I’ve been acting professionally for  about 16 years, in basically every way an actor plies his or her trade: Shakespeare, on-camera commercials, film, tv, experimental theatre, commercial VO, video game VO, etc..  I’ve also taught acting for the University of Pennsylvania and The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. In addition, I’m an inveterate reader, which is what brought me to audiobook narration.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? Like many folks these days, I came to audiobook narration via the growing trend of home studio recording and production. I’ve worked in-studio as well, but my start came relatively recently, as I was looking for a way to productively fill the time between auditions and the like. I had always listened to audiobooks, during many years on the road for acting gigs, so the challenge was setting up a viable recording arrangement, learning how to use the darn thing, and finding work. This was, of course, on top of commuting my existing skill set actual act of narrating itself. Setting a consistent tone and pace is one thing, making a professional-quality recording of it is another thing entirely. Thank goodness we live in an age where almost every production issue imaginable has been hashed out on the internet! So, after about a year, I’ve reached a place where I’m confident in my home studio, freeing me to elaborate on my story telling skills. The veterans I’ve met tell me they usually settle in to that aspect after about 20 books or so, so at least I’m about halfway there!

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? It’s been fairly varied. My first was a really unique contribution to the very-popular zombie genre, called Dead Drunk: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse One Beer at a Time, by Richard Johnson, a great book that has the grace to be exactly what it sounds like.  After that I did an instructional book about Zen meditation by Howard Fast (author and screenwriter of Spartacus, among many others). These two books had a surprising lot in common, if also totally different. More recently I’ve been working on a cycle of the works of H. P. Lovecraft, which has been very rewarding. There’s been a significant revival of attention to Lovecraft, both in spoken and written word, and I’ve always been a fan. My approach was not to read these tales as “horror” but as testimonies of awe and wonder…which then turn horrible. I’ve completed The Shunned House, which takes place, as much of HPL does, in Providence, RI, where I completed my MFA some time ago. I also just released an original collection called Precipitous Tales: Origins of Mythos, which contains four, early works. Putting together and naming a new presentation of Lovecraft has probably been my favourite endeavour.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? In my personal reading, I’ve been mostly working through a lot of science fiction, like Iain Banks’ Culture novels, which are amazing, but I also read quite a bit of fantasy and other genre fiction. That being said, I go through phases where I back away entirely from both of these, in favour of non-fiction, or new popular fiction. The bottom line for me is the writing and the story telling, and I would say the same goes for narration. Again, I’m far too new to the game to declare an area of focus, but if the book has a compelling, unique story to tell, that’s what I prefer. At this point, nothing is ruled out.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I just finished Veil of the Dragon: Book One of the Prophecy of the Evarun, by Tom Barczak, which certainly fits the aforementioned criteria. There’s obviously a great deal of Epic Fantasy out there, but it takes a strong hand to craft one that offers something new, that resonates with the humanity of its audience, but doesn’t simply re-tread new ground.  Veil of the Dragon did that for me. Tom has a gift for world-building, generating an array of cultures with distinct mythologies, but also has a very lyrical sense of environment, both of which made for a gratifying narration experience.  The audiobook just became available, and I know Tom’s busy with the sequel.

I just started prep for a great non-fiction book, Whatever Happened to the Metric System?, by John Bemelmans Marciano,  that I’m recording at Audible next month (which I’m very, very excited about). Lots of fascinating political, military, and geometric research to sort through.

Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) There are some consistencies for every title, such as being sure to not only read the whole thing beforehand to get a sense of structure, pace, and theme.  I usually move through the text slowly, taking notes, and planning out how I want each section to fit the next, develop, and conclude. Beyond that, the process varies depending on the demands of the book. If applicable, character lists and voices have to be generated, to have a distinct sound for each, but also how each character grows and/or changes as the book goes on. In the case of Veil of the Dragon, Tom and I had long conversations about the varied cultural origins of the characters, and how one grouping might sound in contrast to another, but also how exactly to pronounce the original language of names and places, while creating consistency for said cultural groupings.

Once all that preparation is done, I lock myself in my studio, and get to work. I’m constantly refining my recording process, always looking for better sound, and a more efficient procedure. Though as immersive as the technical aspects are, they are all in the service of the story telling. Time allowing, I listen back to make sure I’m meeting the developmental goals I set for myself, or altering set goals as I go. I try to do as much proofing as possible along the way, so I can later focus on just the storytelling. I’m rapidly approaching that place where I can outsource my editing, but for now, I’m applying a “sweep the stage floor” approach from my early days of acting: The more I know about every aspect of audiobook production, the more effective a narrator I will be, even if my only task is to show up and read.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  Storytelling. Dialects! The intimacy you create with the book, which is so much more than simply reading for pleasure. The collaboration with an author (which I try not to take for granted, as many of my authors are long dead). Listening to it when it’s all done, trying not to cringe too much at the quirks that I’m pretty sure only I can hear, and taking in the complete project I’ve done.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? At this point I still do, as I’m working to build a list of books in genres I’d like to work more often. That might not still be true in the near future, but for now I’m lined up to do sequels of previous Royalty Share books. That being said, I wouldn’t take on a RS if it the Rights Holder or author hasn’t created a considerable fan base, has a definite marketing plan, and, most of all, is telling a story I want to read.

Do you listen to audiobooks? These days more so, though admittedly often in a clinical manner, to get comparisons for style, pacing, and technique. I listen to hundreds of samples, though, which is mostly born out of the press of time and finances.

With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I certainly think it’s a fixed manner of story telling, and the technology has certainly made it easier to record and listen to audiobooks (remember those tomes of cassettes?). I don’t think audiobooks will  trump other performance mediums, no, but will continue to serve their particular niche.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? Audiobooks have a place no other medium can fill. On one level, you can’t read while operating heavy machinery or doing chores around the house. Moreover, audiobooks are an extension of the literary tradition that also stretches back to the earliest form of storytelling. And aside from giving fans a second way to take in their favourite books, its something people can actually do together.  Having an app certainly makes this all easier, but I think people (like myself) who have always loved to read are coming to see audiobooks not as a substitute for reading, but as yet another way to absorb a story, with one that makes the most of the collaboration between author and narrator, and in that way, offers more than a solitary read.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? Yes! The Vampire Lestat, by Anne Rice, narrated by Frank Muller. Great stuff.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) They have been an excellent platform for getting started, and I’ve met a great community of narrators and authors from my work there. It takes a bit of close reading and follow-up on their policies, but such is life.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Again, I’m new. But I really haven’t had a bad experience; I’ve been lucky to work with great authors and great publishers, dead and alive.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I own a real broadsword.

Where can we learn more about you? You can read about what I’ve been up to, watch samples from my on-camera work, and listen to my voice work at the aptly named neilhellegers.com.

Social Media links:

@neilhellegers on Twitter

neilhell47 on Instagram

Neil Hellegers on FB

 

 

Audio Book Narrator Interview Number Two – Mike Legate

Name: Michael J Legate, by night known as Mike.

Tell us a bit about yourself: I was raised by theatre wolves.  I grew up behind the stage, basically.  My dad teaches theatre, as do I.  I went to school to learn theatrical sound design and someone decided that was reason enough to give me a job teaching all aspects of theatre design!  Sound design isn’t a huge part of my job anymore, so I look for opportunities elsewhere to scratch my audio itch.  Besides that, I’m 33, recently moved to Colorado and enjoy dark beer, Rueben sandwiches, and watching my two boys Jameson and Salem chase my German shepherd Oskar around the house.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? When I was younger I acted in a few plays.  I was never any good, but my favorite part was the cold reading that we’d all do at the very start of the production period.  I was excited just to read aloud my parts along with other people.  When I started going to college, I would work on a few shows and I would use my voice and I was always surprised whenever someone didn’t recognize my voice.  I’ve always enjoyed reading to other people, and now that I’ve got kids to read to, I’ll never be out of practice.

Do you have a preferred genre? Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? Fantasy and science fiction are my preferred genres as they provide the widest variety of voice work.  Trying out new voices on characters is immensely entertaining.  I try to stay away from financial self-help books.

 What are you working on at present? I’ve just up the short story collection “Tales of Erana” by AL Butcher.  It’s been a fascinating book to work on, since each story has a different feel than the one before it – one story will be a tragic love story involving the thunderous wrath of a goddess and the next would be a lighthearted lesson in why you don’t mix your magical potions up.  It’s been a lot of fun.

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Tales-of-Erana-Audiobook/B00LB8WH0G/

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Tales-of-Erana-Audiobook/B00LB8Q4JG/

*Tell us about your process for narrating? Whenever I design a show, I’ll read the script all the way through for fun, and I’ll try not to think about designing, although inevitably my designer light seeps through the cracks a little.  I try to look at the script from the perspective of an audience member first, and then I can go back and begin to read it from a designer’s point of view.  Audiobook manuscripts are sort of the same way.  I have to read it as unbiased as I can so I can be affected as a reader first, and then I’ll have a better idea of what the author wants.  I’ll try a few different voices to use for the narrator, based on how the mood of the script feels.  A dark thriller sort of novel would lead to a more serious sounding voice, that sort of thing.

I have a pretty cheap rig with a homemade pop filter in front of the microphone, so my first job is setting everything up and doing a few voice exercises.  I’ll read for a few minutes first to let my voice warm up and then start recording.  If I mess a word up, I’ll pause for a moment and redo the whole sentence again.  I use Sony Vegas for all my mixing.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? I really enjoy doing a mix of different voices.  I grew up plastered to the television on Saturday mornings, and I continue to watch cartoons to this day and have a deep respect for animation voice artists.  I’m also delighted any time I can add atmospheric sounds or music for added effect.

Do you listen to audiobooks? My day job and family doesn’t give me a lot of time to sit down and listen to audiobooks, but I honestly also have difficulty listening to audiobooks at length, since my mind sort of drifts away.  I’ve always been a daydreamer, so unless it’s a very compelling story (or a short one) I generally tend not to listen to them.  I love podcasts, however, so figure that one out.

With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of reading? The paperback will never die, and I think that’s a good thing.  Every new bastion of technology brings about a new way to tell a story.  Just look at how engrossing the storylines are in video games nowadays!  There will always be something new and shiny to come out that can tell a story in a different way, but the key isn’t going to be in the tech itself, but how to really use that tech to help tell a great story.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? A whole lot of people travel to work by themselves, and everything we own is becoming more incorporated into our iPods and smartphones.  Everyone is potentially carrying around a little book reader with them at all times.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? I remember as a kid, I had a huge Disney collection of read-along books on cassettes.  They were the kind that made a ‘ding’ sound when you were supposed to turn the page.  I remember that I found the audio more much more engrossing than the book illustrations I was supposed to be looking at, so I’d just sit there and listen instead…

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have bent pinky fingers and can repeatedly crack all my finger joints.  I am truly an endless font of talent.