2015 – A Writer’s Diary

Welcome back to the Library of Erana and the last day of 2015. So another year has dashed past and I’m sitting at the end of 2015 and wondering where it went. I have a theory – someone is siphoning time out of the weekend and holidays and sneaking it into the working day. That’s why days at work seem to go on longer than the same day on leave.

What has 2015 brought me? A house! We bought our first house in April and it’s great. Whilst the place isn’t perfect it’s a good deal better than renting a damp flat and my overall health is better. Also we now have a delightful doggy – she’s grown from a tiny puppy to almost adult and we adore her. Every day she makes us smile and she’s such a happy and joyful creature.

Work… still there. Still stressful and busy but at least I am working and thankful for that.

Writing wise I’ve not been as productive as I planned – mostly due to the factors above but I’ve not been idle.

Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book III was published in March 2015. https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/new-release-the-stolen-tower-the-light-beyond-the-storm-chronicles-iii/

thestolentower500x800 (1)

The third edition of Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles Book I was published with quite a few revisions and a new cover for the paperback. http://www.amazon.com/Light-Beyond-Storm-Chronicles–ebook/dp/B0088DQO9C

Outside the Walls was revised and expanded and the audio book produced with narrator Melanie Fraser. It sounds great. There is something magical in hearing one’s book read aloud.

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

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/outside-the-walls-now-in-print/

Audio

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Outside-the-Walls/dp/B0189QHB12/

http://www.amazon.com/Outside-the-Walls/dp/B0189Q944E/

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Fiction/Outside-the-Walls-Audiobook/B0189QCHI4/

http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Outside-the-Walls-Audiobook/B0189Q95XO
Warrior’s Curse was produced in audio by narrator Rob Goll – who has also done Heroika: Dragon Eaters for Perseid Press and will be narrating Light Beyond the Storm and Shining Citadel in 2016.

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Tales-of-Erana-The-Warriors-Curse-Audiobook/B00UG8AWU4/http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Tales-of-Erana-The-Warriors-Curse-Audiobook/B00UG8I5SK
Heroika: Dragon Eaters was published – along with the accompanying audio book. Please check out the A Week with the Dragon Eaters posts for author and character interviews.

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/12/19/heroika-dragon-eaters-audio/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/heroika-dragon-eaters-heroic-fictionfantasymyth-new-release/

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I’ve done 17 guest interviews elsewhere including the latest with Melanie Fox here. https://mercedesfoxbooks.com/meet-author-a-l-butcher/ and four character interviews including Mirandra, Ephany, Dii’Athella and the Thiefmaster.

Oh and a course on Roman and Greek Mythology – which was really interesting. https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/greek-and-roman-mythology-course-review/
There have been over 160 blog posts – including another Week in Hell, a Week with the Dragon Eaters, character, editor and author interviews, and several fantasy based posts and reblogs.

10 tips and lessons

1) I’m rubbish at using Twitter! Does it help marketing? Not a bloody clue. Many people say it is a vital tool; personally I’m not convinced as I have never bought a book or product from a twitter link and it looks like many people shouting to me. That said I do follow a few authors and it is useful for sharing blog posts. I follow the history, nature an astronomy posts too.

2) There is never enough time or energy to write. This is, of course, mostly my fault. I work full time and often I don’t have enough energy or brain power to do much but poke about on Facebook.

3) Networking is vital. I knew this already but it’s good to have one’s knowledge reinforced. Indie authors are, generally, a supportive lot and I’ve traded interviews, found great books to read and got to know a wide variety of people through social media and networking. It’s a good way of getting support for new releases, blogging, Thunderclap and more.

4) There are some total asshats about and many more idiots. This too has been obvious for a while. Recent events have NOT made the world a safer place. Whilst I agree that terrorism is bad, and religion pernicious bombing the crap out of an area that is already a wasteland is not going to make things better. Humans have an amazing capacity to be total asshats to one another – I can’t think of any other animal which is so unpleasant to its own kind – of course not everyone is like that and certain groups have been labelled as terrorists when it is the actions of a minority. History tends to repeat itself – and in many ways humans have a short memory – or at least a selective one. Often people are quick to judge, especially when they don’t know all the facts. Ignorance leads to fear and fear to hatred, then the killing begins anew, or the ghetto, or the pogrom, or the genocide….

Facebook especially fuels both idiocy and vitriol. There are lots of calls from freedom of speech but – of course that depends on who is doing the speaking and what they are saying. There is either freedom to say what the hell you like – and that goes for everyone or there’s not – some limitations are put in place. But then where and when does that stop. Perhaps if people thought before they spoke (or typed) such limitations wouldn’t be needed. Just because you CAN say something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
Anyway enough of the political talk…don’t get me started I spent 7 years studying politics, sociology, ethics and philosophy and it taught me not to get involved in debates with people who won’t listen and assume they are always right…

5) Marketing is a lottery. I’ve tried some new tactics this year – including Twitter and Thunderclap – results have been mixed. Both are free – at least at the basic level so although not particularly successful no outlay was lost. I’ve found a mix of things helps. Don’t rely on one strategy – vary your approach and keep things interesting.

tps://www.thunderclap.it

6) Write every day, even if it’s not working on a book or story. A blog post, a facebook post, a letter or email to someone – it all keeps the brain cells ticking. Write stories when you can and don’t force it. The world is NOT going to end if that story isn’t finished this week. That’s one of the many reasons I love indie publishing. With a few exceptions the person setting the deadlines is me and so if the book isn’t finished or life intervenes (which it does frequently) then it doesn’t matter as much.

7) Be nice to people. If you can’t be nice be quiet.

8) Vary what you write – if you’re struggling with a project then step away from it and work on something else. I’ve found that focusing on other things means my brain can be ticking away in the background sorting out the problems with the other project.

9) Some things can’t be fixed. It’s easy to spend a lot of time on a project or idea only to find it doesn’t work, or its crap. Yes I know this contradicts point 8 a bit but sometimes an idea simply won’t work – or at least not in the way you want. That’s fine. Sometimes shit happens (or doesn’t) don’t force it to be something it isn’t. Readers can spot a forced plot. If it doesn’t work then change it – look at your options. Can it be used for something else? What is causing the issue? Can it actually be fixed? Sometimes it can’t. Sometimes it becomes something else. That’s fine too.

10) Read more. Reading is great relaxation, great research and great enjoyment. The more you read the better writer you’ll become.

So what’s planned for 2016?

I have lots of plans for 2016 – most of which may never materialise but it’s still good to plan.

These are not in any order….
Hopefully a second Heroika volume will happen (for Perseid Press). Not going to mention too much of my WIP but the volume should be great, having seen a few snippets of draft stories. Hopefully my story will be up to scratch and I’m sure the book will feature on the blog when it’s published.

There will be at least one short Tales of Erana, possibly two. I’m planning to release Just One Mistake with a few revisions as a standalone. It’s already featured in Nine Heroes plus my own Tales of Erana Volume One but I have idea how it can be expanded. I think it would make a great audio short story.

Book II is currently being revised so there will be a new edition of that sometime early to mid 2016.

Book I in audio. Rob Goll is narrating that and we are hoping for spring 2016 release on that. I can’t wait to hear what he’s done.

Tales from the Golden Mask – this has been a WIP for a while. Hopefully the first part of the series will be released by the summer. It’s a co-authored erotic adventure set in an Erana of the past. We think it’s a lot of fun, with feisty women, sexy heroes and of course a goodly helping of nookie. This one doesn’t take itself or the world too seriously and is aimed at a slightly different audience.

The Kitchen Imps – a short book of fantasy tales for kids and the young at heart. I really need to work on these, as this is another project which has been around for a while.
I’m contemplating changing the blog – currently this is the free wordpress type but the upgraded version has a lot more features. I’m hoping to attach a website dedicated to just the books as well. I’ll let you know how that goes…

Also looking to participate in a blog tour – I’ve hosted people before but I’ve never done it myself. Will be an interesting experience and I’ll review it after.

Want to try and read more, and review more. I often stick to re-reads but I’m going to try and branch out for new authors. I’ll try and be better at posting reviews as well.
Looking for plenty more interviews – both giving and receiving – guest posts and articles.

Signed up for a course on medieval magic, one on Ancient Greece and also looking at ancient Egypt. Plus whatever else takes my fancy and I can manage with the other commitments.
I’ll look back in twelve months and see how many of these I’ve done.
Feel free to comment on ideas, suggestions for the blog and contacts about interviews.
Hoping 2016 is good for you, my followers, and you’ll keep viewing the blog.

Red and gold rose 2chronicles banner  Warriors Curse Final 1 - ebook

Back into Hell – Hell Week 2015 – Altos the Angel

Now who’d expect to find an angel in Hell, except of course his lordship, the Fallen One? Amongst the damned his presence is…unusual. So over to you… (brave angel this one…misguided perhaps but brave).

Character Spotlight

About yourself:

*Who are/were you? I am Altos, an angel on special assignment.

* Why do YOU think you’re in Hell? I am here to rehabilitate His Satanic Majesty.

Who are your friends/allies here? All well-meaning souls I consider my allies, those not entirely given over to iniquity.

Describe your home/environment in Hell. I arrived with the fallen and have watched Hell develop from total darkness to its current state. Although I hail from on high this is my home for now, wherever the Prince holds forth you will find me.

Do you have any enemies here? My adversaries are the blind passions of the damned, most significantly Vengeance.

Come on be honest, what do you think of HSM leadership? Satan is comprehensible, if not justifiable, and actually a lover of beauty in his way.

Author Spotlight

*Name and bio.

Chris Morris

* Tell us about your story for this edition. The Wager relates an incident involving Satan and Altos where militaristic hordes from all ages have gathered for a “final” reckoning.

What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen? Satan’s isolation and profound understanding of humanity are fascinating, yet very difficult to draw—in this story by resort to a ghastly and grand-scale event demonstrating the worst proclivities of his charges, the lost souls of men. Because of his proposition to the angel—his most worthy, divine audience—he can indulge his urge to instruct his eternal adversary on high. Even Satan loves company.

What are you currently working on? I’m narrating audio books; I’ve completed The Sacred Band a novel by Janet Morris and myself and I, the Sun by Janet Morris. Next up is Shards of the Glass Slipper II: Queen Alice, by Roy Mauritsen.

Name the last two books you’ve read – tell us about them. Re-read The Golden Sword by Janet Morris, the second volume in her Silistra series quartet and The Best Poems in the English Language by Harold Bloom, his compendium of great poetical works and a great starting point for those like me who seek a chronological framework in which to appreciate the history of poetry in our language.

What marketing tips/writing advice can you offer other authors? Until you’ve found your storytelling voice as distinct from those writers you admire, write only what you know as passionately and articulately as you can without distorting your effort by trend-following or obeisance to niche-market rules and practices. Find and write what only you can and love the moments of total immersion necessary to bring them to life.

Heroes in Hell (series)

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 Four – Dean Robertson

*Name: Dean Robertson

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I am a 69-year-old retired English teacher, first-time author, and first-time grandmother (as of Shakespeare’s birthday 2015).  I grew up on 200 acres of woods in North Georgia, have lived and taught in California, Kentucky, Michigan, and Virginia, and live currently in a 1928 co-op building in an urban neighbourhood in Norfolk, Virginia.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? When I lived in Michigan, I read out loud to several friends, one of whom saw an article in the local paper about recording audiobooks.  She called me and said, “You should do this.”  I had another friend with a recording studio, so I made a demo tape which I sent off to The Brilliance Corporation.  I didn’t hear anything for a long time and had forgotten about it when they called to ask if they could submit my tape to Barbara Kingsolver for her novel, The Poisonwood Bible.  She approved, and I did the job.  I narrated several other books for them that year.

I haven’t narrated audiobooks for many years; my life and passion became increasingly involved with teaching.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I’m going to describe my process for narrating The Poisonwood Bible, because that was the longest book I narrated and also the first, the finest, and a model for the others.  It would still be the model if I did this work again.  The work came up fast.  They sent me a manuscript, which was dauntingly thick and, unlike my usual meticulous preparation for anything I do, I decided I just didn’t want to read it.  So, the narration was my first reading.  It was exactly the right thing.  I went to the studio’s headquarters on Lake Michigan and checked into a motel.  Every morning at 8:00 I drove to “work,” entered the small room, lined with egg carton foam, pulled on the huge earphones, opened the manuscript, and started reading.  We broke for lunch, then worked until around 4:00.  After that, I went back to my motel, walked on the beach, then went to bed.  It took five days.  I guess my process, looking back on it, just happened and involved somehow being in what people later came to call “the zone.”  I sat perfectly still, spoke into the large microphone, and could hear nothing but the sound of my own voice and Kingsolver’s words, echoing through my brain from one ear to the other.  I find, with years enough behind me to consider it, that it’s the way I have done everything-teaching, narrating, writing.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  The absolute immersion in a piece of literature—the music of the words bringing you into the book more intensely than I could have imagined.

Do you listen to audiobooks?  Nope—not mine nor anyone else’s.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I certainly hope not.  I continue to sit down, rock my grandson, and read aloud to him from whatever I happen to be reading.  I did that from his first day.  I did the same with my son—nursing, rocking, reading.  Complete intimacy.  MP3 players, and all their ilk, are cold and distancing and offer very little in the way of human connection.  There’s still the voice, but I don’t believe much in the power of disembodied voices.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? People are rushed and incapable of the kind of stillness required to sit down to read a book.  And we have created a culture in which reading isn’t valued at all.  I hope the human need for stories will keep them alive in at least some form, but I am not hopeful.  We have already moved into the world of graphic novels, i.e., comic books.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? I am old.  I have never owned an audio book except the free ones I got for narrating.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? No; I loved every minute of it.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. Having famously said of owning llamas, “Once you’ve kissed something with three lips, there’s no going back.”

Where can we learn more about you?  My website and my author page on Koehler Books.

http://pdrobertson.com

http://www.koehlerbooks.com/books-2/books/looking-for-lydia-looking-for-god/

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.

Audio Book Narrator Interview one – Chris Morris

As part of the interviews discussing all parts of reading, writing and enjoying great books today something new. Audio books.  Audio books have been around for ages – I have copies on cassette tape (yes remember those?) and one on CD but now most are MP3 and far easier to listen to than having to change the tape every 30 minutes!

As the first of these interviews I am very pleased to welcome Chris Morris, author, musician and audio book narrator.

Welcome to Christopher Crosby Morris

Tell us a bit about yourself: I am all about sound. Most of us can hear farther than we can see and have deep sound vocabularies we seldom consciously bring to bear in appreciating more of all that goes on in our lives. My mission is to wake people to the enhanced quality of life available through fully developed hearing.

How did you become involved with audio book narration and production? We read aloud as part of our writing process, often repeatedly, until our prose is properly voiced. Telling stories, whether in prose or song, is a listening sport. To be able to produce our written works in audio versions completes our audience’s spectrum of storytelling accessibility and for many provides a more profound experience than reading. Plus, I know the sorts of nuance each character brings and can impart something of what they’re like at the nonverbal level.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? At some time or other I’ve read our entire catalogue aloud, rehearsing you might say. My favourite is I, the Sun, which is next up in our production queue.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I prefer heroic fiction. I do not/will not read dystopian material because it stifles growth of character, which is our destiny.

What are you working on at present/just finished? At the moment I’m reading Roy Mauritsen’s Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder. I’m narrating it as I read it for the first time, so it had better be heroic or I won’t read the next one.

Tell us about your process for narrating?  I read a chapter at a time on my Kindle Fire HD. I review the day’s material and highlight the names of the speakers to avoid mixing them up on the fly. I record in Adobe Audition and, when I misspeak, pause a moment, press the ‘M’ key to leave a marker, then immediately read the passage again and continue; I find it easier to go back later and edit at the marker points than to stop the bus, excise the offending bit, and then punch in to begin again; it’s about flow and rapport and technical interruptions can quickly degrade one’s performance.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  A point comes when I disappear and the story takes over, although I’m emotionally immersive and a section fraught with feeling can throw me off centre enough to leak into the voice and one has to stop and regroup at such a point; I’m steeling myself to deal with some of the death scenes in I, the Sun. So what’s enjoyable is being the voice of moments that transcend considerations of normalcy and possess the scope to portray extraordinary circumstances to the audience.

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

Do you listen to audio books? I listen to anything narrated by Derek Jacobi or Jeremy Irons; I also admire Alex Hyde-White’s narrations.

With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? Yes. But see below..

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? Audio storytelling, rather than being something new, is returning to us something very old in our DNA, the wonderment of gathering to hear a voice fill the darkness and elicit our participation in a tale as we imagine what we hear. All the world’s cultures need this very much now. The spoken word is primal in its power to involve us and, properly uttered, humbly magnificent, the grandparent of our better selves.

Can you remember the first audio book you owned? Jiminy Cricket (Cliff Edwards) narrating the Adventures of Pinocchio.

If you are an author, do you produce your own audiobooks or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice? Before committing to produce our own audio books we signed up on the ACX site and began sampling the narrator talent there, which is considerable. We engaged Alex Hyde-White and David Kudler, both of whom gave us singular performances of shorter works and were supportive when I mentioned I’d like to give narration a go.

What I bring to narration is musicality. Good singers proceed from a natural speaking voice to the edges of register, tone, and volume their rendition of a piece requires; narration is similar but with the added consideration that one’s ‘piece’ is a lot longer than the average song and that ‘guest voices’ have to be incorporated into the narrator’s own. Listening to others sing my book pushed me right over the cliff.

By the time I finished my first run through of The Sacred Band, I had learned to produce an anchor voice – a centre sound – to carry all the exposition and yet have enough scope to inflect humour or suspense and other tensions when called for. We all have this ability and developing it is my lifelong fascination.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) So far so good. What I like most about ACX is the amount of homework they’ve done to address the needs of all the parties to a production. Since the audio book form is newly resurgent there isn’t the lore or fading dominance of crumbling “big houses” of audio book publishing – they’ve simply never existed – and ACX has a band of brothers feel to it at the moment that I like. Hope it lasts.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Not really. You do learn very quickly what your articulation preferences are. Glottal stops are unacceptable. Regional dialectics wear thin rapidly. Vocal caricaturization, if I may coin a term, or cutesy voices drive me straight into the arms of my nearest dog.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I always wanted to be lanky.

Where can we hear your audiobook? You can hear a free sample of my new audiobook, The Sacred Band, written by Janet morris and Chris Morris and narrated by Christopher Crosby Morris, on Audible.com at:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Sacred-Band/dp/B00N1YRVH2/

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Sacred-Band-Audiobook/B00MU2VCEO/

What will you be narrating next? After I finish Roy Mauritsen’s Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder, I am scheduled to narrate I, the Sun by Janet Morris, Outpassage by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, and then Beyond Sanctuary by Janet Morris.

You are also an accomplished author and prose editor. Where can find books you’ve edited, and some of your books and stories? I have many published stories. Some of my most recent short fictions appear in the following anthologies, some of which I edited. [These links are for Amazon Kindle, but most titles are also available in trade paper on Amazon, and in electronic editions on Nook as well as Kindle.)

Lawyers in Hell    http://www.amazon.com/Lawyers-Hell-Heroes-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B0057Q0OIK/

Rogues in Hell    http://www.amazon.com/Rogues-Hell-Heroes-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B008JZCFMO/

Dreamers in Hell    http://www.amazon.com/Dreamers-Hell-Heroes-Nancy-Asire-ebook/dp/B00DEB1IJE/

Poets in Hell   http://www.amazon.com/Poets-Hell-Heroes-Book-17-ebook/dp/B00KWKNTTW/

My novels co-written with Janet Morris are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in Kindle, Nook, and trade paper editions.  They include but are not limited to:

Where can we learn more about you?

My music is very important to me. Because you asked how to learn more about me, I recommend you sample my most recent album, available as MP3 Music and on CD at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Everybody-Knows-Christopher-Morris-Band/dp/B004GNEF3A/

You can hear more of my music on: https://soundcloud.com/christopher-morris

You may read about my history and see my bibliography at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Morris_(author)

http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Morris/e/B008L41JNO/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_2

Social Media links for Chris Morris (Christopher Crosby Morris):

https://www.facebook.com/JanetMorrisandChrisMorris

https://www.facebook.com/christophercmorrissings

http://www.sacredbander.com

http://www.theperseidpress.com/#

http://www.facebook.com/christopher.c.morris.7?fref=ts

For other interviews with Chris and Janet and their characters please look here:

Sacred Band

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/character-interview-number-three-nikodemos-fantasymythic/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/character-interview-tempus-fantasy/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/character-interview-ghost-horse-fantasy/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/author-interview-and-special-guest-janet-morris/

Hell Week

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/a-week-in-hell-day-5-marlowe/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/author-interview-and-special-guest-janet-morris/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/a-week-in-hell-day-1-devil/

Author Interview Number Sixty-Two – A.L Butcher – Fantasy/Fantasy Romance/Erotica

Welcome to A.L Butcher, also writing as Alexandra. OK so this is a bit self-serving as it is my blog but perhaps it is time my readers get to know me a bit better.

Where are you from and where do you live now? I grew up in the South East of the UK, in a small town and I now live in Bristol, which is in the South West. I moved as I studied Politics and Sociology at university in Bristol and as I now work there never left.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write fantasy and fantasy romance with a hint of erotica. To date I have two novels – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book I and The Shining Citadel, which is book II of the series. I am working on book III. I also have Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends, which features five fantasy tales in the form of mythic tales set in the same world, this is also available in audio.

I have poetry in a number of anthologies and some to come out in the next few weeks. I also have short stories in a number of other publications. The poetry doesn’t often get an airing, if I am honest but it is good that people enjoy it.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? I like research, but it is easy to get lost in it all and half the time I’ll go off and look up something not strictly relevant. Although fantasy allows for quite a lot of creative scope I do think there are some aspects which really need to be researched, such as weapon and armour usage, terrain, food, herbalism and defence. For The Shining Citadel I researched swamp and mountain terrain, flora and fauna, whether salamander is edible, medieval weapon use and herbs used in healing. For my current book I researched mythic creatures, herbs, horsemanship and fishing.

I think accuracy is important, as is consistency. I hate reading a book where something is simply implausible, or plain wrong.  If a writer changes something for his or her world, fair enough but they need to justify how that thing now works and stick to it.

Resources are predominately the internet, Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, another herblore book, various books on medieval warfare and weaponry which we have in the house and the Mythic Scribes website, which often has good advice. I read a lot of history and have a background in Classical Studies so all off that helps. It is also great to research story-telling itself. Homer and the Greek classics, Roman mythology, Nordic tales, and sometimes further afield. People have been telling stories as long as humans have been sitting around a fire, sometimes to explain and sometimes to amuse.  Creativity is goes hand in hand with humanity; humans need stories, the ability to escape and to understand the world and often this curiosity leads to more – to science and the sharing of knowledge.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) Great characters, great world-building, solid plot, technically perfect. I hate books with weak characters and world building. If I don’t care about the characters I am reading about I don’t give a stuff what they do. I’ve read several books where the plot was a bit weak but the characters were fun enough that it didn’t matter. Typos and poorly written books are not just in the indie market – I read a book by a well-known crime author with 5 typos in the first few pages and she was traditionally published. I am not saying that is right, but I am saying it happens a lot and not just to indies despite what many people think. I’m fairly forgiving so a few misplaced commas or a stray typo will not make me stop reading but terrible characters or a distinct lack of world building will. That said ideally a book should be the best it can be. I have also read plenty of books with errors – did the errors reduce the reading experience? Yes if they were too bad.

I also appreciate within the indie market that many authors work within a very small budget and although not ideal I’d rather have a cracking story with one or two issues than a technically perfect book with no soul. There are a few of those around.  That said I have seen indie books which are so bad as to be unreadable.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason?

The Light Beyond the Storm – Book I is available as an e-book on all the major online retailers and in print on Amazon, Createspace and Barnes and Noble, it is also available in large print. Hopefully next year I may pursue it as an audio.

The Shining Citadel is available in all the above except large print (as it is too big and I’ll have to split it in half) and audio.

Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends is available as an e-book and audio.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Yes, certainly. I think there is quite a lot of prejudice against indie authors. Why? Because some indie books are badly written, badly formatted and badly edited. Unfortunately once stung by a book like this many readers will assume all indie/SPA books are like this, which isn’t the case. Trad pubbed books are not necessarily well written, but are generally edited and formatted correctly.  Some readers seem to think that a writer self-publishes because he or she has been rejected by a ‘real’ publisher. Whilst this is certainly the case for some, and I am not saying their books are substandard they are just not what the publisher wants at that time, it is not the case for all. Many authors like the freedom self-publishing brings, including a better royalty rate (generally) and fewer deadlines. It also depends what an author wants from his or her book. Is it a case that he or she wants to publish for a smaller audience, or isn’t so bothered about sales figures? In this case self-publishing might work quite well. Hopefully as the great Indie and self-published books are recognised the division will diminish.

Do you read work by self-published authors? Of course, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t. I buy a lot of books and these days more than 50% of my purchases are self-published. Some are good, some aren’t – the same as trad pubbed.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Don’t. Generally authors commenting on reviews, particularly negative ones is bad and will lead to far worse. Reviews are a reader’s opinion – nothing more and there will always be someone who doesn’t like the book, for whatever reason. Look on Amazon at the reviews and I’ll bet most books have a mix. Yes the review might not say what the author wishes it said but reviews are for readers and people review in many different ways and for different reasons.  This is particularly the case on Good Reads, there are a lot of reviewers there and many are extremely active. An ‘author behaving badly’ will only get him or herself in more hot water by bitching. Remember on the internet once something is said it can be very difficult to take it back, and it is likely to end up on someone’s blog, Facebook or wherever.  Unless the review is personally spiteful or racist etc. I’d say let it go, if it is personally abusive then report it to the correct moderators.  Most readers will pick and choose which reviews they take into account and an obvious hate-review will be just that – obvious but the flip side is those same readers are likely to notice an author getting upset/angry in the comments.

How important are reviews? I wish I knew. Personally not that important as I tend to make the choice to buy a book on other factors but good reviews certainly can’t hurt and I know there are several book promotion sites that won’t even consider a book with less than 50 reviews. Because reviews are so varied and posted for so many reasons I am not convinced they are vital. Many disagree.

What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? I have no problem with it, if the review is genuine. Most authors are also avid readers and so why shouldn’t they. Yes sometimes there is a ‘If you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours’ type of attitude, which I am not keen on. When I review I’ll try and be honest. I don’t often find books I don’t like but it does happen. I’ll try and find something positive – good characterisation, a touch of humour but I will say what I don’t like, including if it is badly written.  I tend not to be bitchy, as I am not that sort of person but I do think saying a book is wonderful when I don’t think it is won’t help anyone – not the author and not other readers.  I can separate being an author and being a reader.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? So I am a bit of a nerd, I do enjoy playing PC games, especially fantasy based ones such as Dragon Age and Skyrim but I do tend to think even the immersive ones are fairly linear.  I like to imagine the world, the characters and such like in a book and I live the vivid descriptions which often don’t appear in a game. A book is truly immersive. I watch a lot of films, but again the people and the settings are laid out for the viewer and less imagination is involved.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

Keep writing.

Be realistic – you are unlikely to be a best seller overnight.

Read the FAQ/TOS and the small print. Please!

What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst? Hmmm. Best – I suppose author interviews, both giving and receiving. It helps to build a network and authors generally are a helpful and reciprocal lot – readers like to know about an author. Also I use Facebook a lot, but it helps to check out what the promotional rules are for particular groups and don’t just spam your book, interact, hang out, post other stuff.

Worst –Twitter but that is probably because I don’t know the best way to utilise it. Personally it seems like a constant stream with no conversation or interaction and I, personally, have never bought a book via Twitter, although I have clicked on article links. I do know quite a few people who have a lot of success on Twitter – how I have no clue.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it?

The Tripods trilogy. I loved these books when I was younger and so this is a great journey back to my younger days.  Before that I read a medieval romance called Creating Memories by Lisa Shea. I have read her work before and enjoyed it. Her heroine was a feisty lass and the love story built slowly with many twists.

I am currently reading a book about Lunacy and Mad-Doctors in Victorian Britain.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? Too many to name, but picking a few – traditionally published – Gaston Leroux, Alexandre Dumas, the Brontes, Bram Stoker, Janet Morris, Tolkien, Agatha Christie, Ellis Peters, Colin Wilson, Terry Pratchett, HG Wells, Jules Verne. Indie/SPA – Walter Rhein, Lisa Shea, Diana Wicker, Janet Morris, JD Hallowell, Ross Harrison, Thaddeus White, Leeland Artra.

What are your views on authors offering free books?   I actually did a blog post on the Mythic Scribes blog last year about this – leading a debate for authors and readers who were for and against this.  My own view – it can work but needs to be handled carefully. Many readers download books BECAUSE they are free and don’t read them. It is not a guaranteed way to get reviews or more readers but it might work for some. As a reader I have read an author’s free book and then bought a follow up. Some readers assume that a free book will be rubbish – or why would it be free? I think it depends what an author expects from a freebie campaign – do they simply want to get their name out there and hope that a few people will take the chance and read the book, then tell their friends? I think exposure is the main reason for offering freebies.  I download free books and I do read them but not as many as I used to.  Smashwords has a useful tool – an author can offer a voucher to discount a book – which is handy for review copy or giveaway prizes. In my view that works better than a generally free book as it is easier to target.

The Great Free Book Debate: The Readers

The Great Free Book Debate: The Authors

Do you have a favourite movie? I have many, I watch a lot of films. Let me see – in no particular order: Dead Poets Society, Star Wars IV-VI, Schindler’s List, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Alien et al, Monty Python films, Silent Running, Dune (miniseries), Pale Rider, High Plains Drifter, Jane Eyre, Guardians of the Galaxy, Batman Begins, Dark Knight Rises, Star Dust, Bram Stoker’s Dracula….

Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing? I worked in a kitchen in my student days. I hated it.  The money was diabolical, the hours sucked and some of the other staff were just plain nasty.  I don’t think I learned anything from that job except to respect people in menial jobs – they get a raw deal.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I’m Caulrophobic. I hate puppets too.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Please see the side bar for links – but here are the main ones:

 

Light Beyond the Storm Amazon http://tinyurl.com/oxttl4y

Shining Citadel Amazon http://tinyurl.com/nek3zs2

Nine Heroes http://tinyurl.com/qzgre7x

Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00JCHQWJK

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JCHQWJK

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tales-erana-myths-legends/id867836913?mt=11

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tales-of-erana-alexandra-butcher/1119319325?ean=2940045846837

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/tales-of-erana-myths-and-legends

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

http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Erana-Myths-Legends/dp/B00LCEUJ5E

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

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Erana-Myths-Legends-Unabridged/dp/B00LBCTSA4

 

Newest Release – Spectacular Tales http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spectacular-Tales-Collection-Collaboration-Presents-ebook/dp/B00N3SPH5O/

Reader Interview Number Seventeen – Matthew Jacobs

Hi and welcome to the Library of Erana, a place of words and of their magic. Words are power, they are knowledge and they are freedom.  Readers play an important role in the life of books and words, for without readers books would sit unread, unloved and unknown.  What makes a good book, or for that matter a bad one?  Why do people read and how do they find their books?

Welcome to Matthew Jacobs

Where are you from? Minnesota, USA

Please tell us a little about yourself. 32, Male, 2 yr AAS degree, primarily audio book listener or normal reading so I can multitask

On average how many books do you read in a month? ½ a book paper, 4-6 audio books

Where is your favourite place to read? Read in bed, listen while driving

What genres do you prefer and why? Do you have any genres you avoid? Prefer: fantasy and magical realism. Because of the interesting situations and creative rules the authors put on the fantastic elements. I enjoy a creative set of guidelines the characters must face to use their magic that allows for interesting and honestly dangerous situations.

Avoid: Horror and Romance. Because both focus too close on 1 or 2 things and miss opportunities for wider ideas and interactions.

Why are books important to you and what does reading bring to your life? New thoughts, creative ideas, and new ways of looking at problems.

Do you have a favourite book or author, why do you think you like this book/author so much? I really enjoy Orson Scott Card, he has several series that I have or am enjoying. Including the Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow sagas, The Tales of Alvin Maker, and others. His characters maintain a very realistic balance of personalities. They feel like consistent people who have different moods. Some writers, when a character’s mood changes, don’t feel like the same character, but Card’s always do.

I also don’t know anyone who claims to like fantasy who doesn’t at least appreciate Tolkien. I enjoy his full word choices and deep descriptions. Along the same lines, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson are both very enjoyable reads.

What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this? I greatly prefer audiobooks as they allow me to enjoy more books because I can listen and enjoy the stories while completing other tasks that would be impossible to read during. Also, I have always enjoyed a good story telling and this is just a more portable form. Finally, because many fantasy novels use very uncommon names for people or places I don’t lose track of the story by trying to guess how the author meant the name to be said – I can hear it from a good reader.

How do you usually find the books you read? For example: recommendations from friends, promotion on social networks, your local library, following authors you already know? Following authors is usually a good way, but for new stuff I read interviews with authors I like and see who they note in their own reading pile. There is also the website SUVUDU that each year does an imaginary cage match between characters where you get short introductions to them and sometimes bits from the authors.

When choosing a book what makes you stop and give it a second look?  What makes you turn away? Take a second look: Interesting hook, or set or rules.           Turn away: Too much focus on one thing

Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence the choice? Yes

Do you “judge a book by its cover?” What else can you do at a bookstore when your browsing for a new title?

What do you think is the most important aspect of a book for you? Plot, world-building, strong characters etc.? What turns you off? Plot is important, but if I don’t care about the characters (love or hate), then it won’t hold my interest.

Does the behaviour of an author affect your choice to read one of their books?Not unless they have made it clear they are using the books to push an agenda.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews on sites such as Goodreads? They have every right to freely make any comment they like, but readers are free to choose to or not to read the book based on it.

If you had to pick three favourite books to take to a desert island what would they be?

Can I have 3 series?

1 Lord of the Rings

2 The Tales of Alvin Maker

3 The Wheel of Time

Do you think bricks and mortar bookshops are in decline?  Yes, as are almost every other kind of store.