Audiobook Narrator Interview – Stephanie Montalvo

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*Name: Stephanie Montalvo

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I’m a retired professional dancer. I’m also a trained actor and singer. 14 years ago I started a production company. We’ve produced videos, voiceovers, shows and special events for private clients, municipalities, Fortune 500 companies, and brands such as Nickelodeon. I also have a strong connection to nature and so I founded a non-profit dedicated to environmental education and inspiration. Creativity and nature are my life force.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? As a multi passionate artist it was natural to move my storytelling skills into audiobook narration. I love to tell stories and create characters.

Is this your day job? Yes

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I’ve narrated a wide range of genres. I love voicing children’s books because they have so many fun characters to create. I also like working with authors who really understand their characters and have created a detailed background story. Knowing the story behind each character helps you bring them to life.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I enjoy Romance, Comedy, Sci-Fi. I’m pretty open to all genres if the writing is engaging. I don’t think my voice is the right fit for historical work, although I do love to listen to them.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I just wrapped the Healing Springs by Rhavensfyre.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I like to read the whole book cover to cover first. I make notes about what touched me and any questions I might have for the author. Then, I like to meet via phone or Skype with the author and talk about their inspiration for writing the book and get to know them. I find that hearing the author speak about their characters helps me get a good idea of where they are coming from. I ask for specific details about each character even the smaller characters. I like to know what the authors are thinking about their characters. When an author can give me examples or match characteristics to popular figures it really helps create a better sense of the person and how they would sound. Then, I go and pull images or I draw features I like about the character and start working with my voice to give them their sound. I do lots of research on vocal styles for specific regions. I always keep samples of the voices I’ve created for each character to reference later on. If I need more information or confirmation on a particular character I contact the author with a sample. Once I feel solid about each character’s voice I go into the studio and start to tell the story.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  I love creating characters and telling their story. It feels good to listen back and hear their voice, not yours.

What do you find least enjoyable? Editing is hard at times. You spend many many hours in the studio all alone looking at a waveform on the screen. Your arms can fatigue which isn’t enjoyable.

Have you ever found an author you couldn’t continue to work with? How was this resolved? Unfortunately, yes. I’ve had an author that just disappeared. I didn’t hear from them for months. I had to move on to the next project. Sometimes life happens, I understand. I’ve never had any issues with a difficult author. I research them before accepting a project.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? Yes, I do consider royalty share. I’m happy to collaborate with an author if they have a nice following and good reviews.

Do you listen to audiobooks? I sure do. I love them!

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? Yes, I do believe that audiobooks are the future of storytelling. You can listen on morning commutes, while waiting in line, anywhere!

Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? Audiobooks are calming and comforting. I’ve found that humans, and some animals, love to listen to stories. It is like having a good friend in your pocket. Audiobooks let your brain relax into the drama of a character instead of the day to day stress that many people encounter. They also stimulate your imagination. You create the imagery to the story. That is powerful!

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? I had books on tape as young as 5. We would get them from the library. I loved them then too.

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? I’m currently working on a book and I will produce it. I made this choice because I know the work and the story and would enjoy telling it.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) I truly enjoy working with ACX/Audible. I find it easy to use. I’ve met some great authors there. It is a fantastic platform.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? I’ve had some authors that don’t explain their vision well upfront which makes it harder to produce but nothing negative.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve had? The devil is in the details. Always find out exactly what the author’s full vision is for the main character from start to finish. The small details can shift a book and that is very important to know before you record the complete work.

What is the worst piece of advice you’ve had? Don’t read the book before you voice it. Ouch!

If you could narrate any book you wanted which would it be and why? I’d love to narrate the Wizard of Oz. There are so many fun characters and it is a wonderful story.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I love bunnies. I had 12 at one time, all spayed and neutered rescues. They are not the easiest animals to care for but if you love them and learn their language you will get mountains of love back.

Where can we learn more about you? www.stephanievo.com

 

Social Media links:

Twitter: @StephanieVoice

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephanievoiceandvideo/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/StephanieVoiceandVideo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audiobook narrator interview – Jerry Fischer

 

*Name:  Jerry Fischer

*Tell us a bit about yourself:

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? Studied voice-over technique with Ginny Tyler (voice of Minnie Mouse), Joanie Gerber (voice of one of the Smurfs & various commercials), & Julie Kliewer (voice of Robecca Steam in “Monster High”); was an elementary public school teacher for over 28 years & always read to my students utilizing different voices; past reader for The Learning Tree (Hollywood production studio for reading for the blind)

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? Fairview Felines (written by Michele Corriel, exhibiting 20 different voices), Ulrike’s Christmas (MY FAVORITE, written by Victoria Zigler), Hokey Pokey Pirates (written by Peyton King, Kristi King-Morgan), Why Are There Bullies … (written by Rich Linville)

Do you have a preferred genre?  Yes, Kids!    Do you have a genre you do not produce?  Yes, Adults. Why is this? The books are too long and boring

My preferred genre is: Of course, Kids

What are you working on at present/Just finished? Just finished Home Squeak Home (another wonderful book written by Victoria Zigler)

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) It takes tremendous patience and practice, practice, practice. A voice-over artist is always honing his/her skills. Knowledge of various software programs and mics is a must, along with clear diction, high energy, and a vivid imagination. And, for sure, a love for reading!

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  Getting into the characters and becoming “them” as I narrate. Being able to bring the books “alive”.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate?  Yes, it tends to be much better than price per hour. That is, if you have a great writer and publisher who promotes and networks.   If not why is this? NA

Do you listen to audiobooks? Used to, more in the past than present, since I’m busy with narrating and producing, now that I’m retired (well, from teaching).

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? Perhaps; however, my grandson encouraged me to stop narrating for anyone over 12 years old, because most teens don’t want to sit down today and listen to an audiobook. Sadly, many adults don’t seem to want to take the time to listen to stories anymore either. I really think we still need to hold onto the old-fashioned style of live storytelling.

Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? Maybe people would rather listen to books that are recorded as they drive in their cars or do things around the home. Sitting down and reading has basically become a thing of the past, even in public schools. Although every year I’m asked to return to my last school and read to different aged students for a special day of reading.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? It was a Christian fictional book, This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) Earnings, not yet… Ease of use, definitely. Workload, you betcha, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the children’s books.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Yes, my first one, which cost me money. The writer was horrible with his grammar and I was continuously correcting the manuscript. Having been an elementary school teacher sure came in handy with all the corrections. Unfortunately, the experience caused me to doubt the validity of continuing as a narrator. Yet, I persevered and came into my own, especially with the last books written by Victoria Zigler. I really can’t say enough about this prolific children’s writer. “Mother Goose” move over!

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. My grandchildren think I’m the silliest Grandpa in the world and I love it! They can’t believe it when I walk up to little children and start having a conversation with my “Donald Duck” impersonation.

Where can we learn more about you? Ask my grandkids or friends, or go to Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), or Facebook, or see me as “Cowboy Jerry 1” on YouTube (Yes, I’m even a prestidigitator.)

Social Media links: Facebook

Jerry has recently narrated – Ulrike’s Christmas

Ulrike's Christmas Audiobook Cover.jpg

Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Ulrikes-Christmas-Audiobook/B076KWWL6Y/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/689169
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ulrikes-christmas-victoria-zigler/1125333618
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/ulrike-s-christmas
Chapters-Indigo:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/ulrikes-christmas/9781370858835-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/ulrikes-christmas/id1186265503
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/ulrikes-christmas-unabridged/id1299897702
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ulrikes-Christmas-Victoria-Zigler/dp/1541259998/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Ulrikes-Christmas-Victoria-Zigler/dp/1541259998/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Ulrikes-Christmas-Victoria-Zigler/dp/1541259998/
The Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Ulrikes-Christmas-Victoria-Zigler/9781541259997
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33358687-ulrike-s-christmas

Narrator Interview – Danny Letham

*Name: Danny Letham

*Tell us a bit about yourself: Raised on a Scottish moorland farm, I spent much of my adult life in various Scottish and English cities and now live near the North Wales Coast.  My work background is software development and systems analysis, specialising in commercial, financial, and manufacturing systems. Born into a musical family whose other stock-in-trade was teaching, I was a mobile deejay in my teens, and these days I can gossip for Britain about many musical genres.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? While I’ve always liked to talk, the impetus came in the form of the usual story: suggestions from friends and relations. I was very aware that merely being the “natural” that those good folks suggested was not enough, and indeed the well-intentioned encouragement might not even have been true. So, from about 2012 onwards I researched and self-trained with the help of Patrick Fraley’s tutorials and a few other sources. Meanwhile, before my wife’s death in 2016 I had gradually withdrawn from the world of I.T. to become her full-time caregiver, and since then I have reinvented myself as a narrator, video maker, and digital artist. I first encountered ACX through Mr. Fraley.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? You’ll have worked out from the foregoing that I have only just taken the plunge. So, for the time being I don’t have much to say here. I have a computer full of material that will never be seen or heard in public, kind of like those early Beatles recordings made in Hamburg. (Dream on, Danny!)

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I’m a non-fiction kind of a guy really, who aspires to biography, history, the education sector, and corporate reads. I have a high regard for the better fiction narrators and am not averse to characterisation, but not every title is an Agatha Christie mystery and although I have my moments and can run the gamut of SATB timbres (baritone and mezzo are my best) I’m not quite in the same league as David Suchet. What folk tend to overlook, though, is that within the vast tract that is non-fiction there is every bit as much of a need for nuance and sense of scene. Which isn’t to rule out the right novel, of course; never say “never”. That said, I am minded to avoid so-called “Adult” material but I’d not reject an otherwise suitable title just because it had some adult content; however it would have to be very good read. On the other hand, given that I have a well-developed avuncular style for kids’ books there is an obvious conflict, so “Adult” is not a market I would target.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I have just arrived on Audible as narrator of a kids’ title written by Victoria Zigler, called “Eadweard: a Story of 1066”. That title attracted me partly for its historic interest but significantly also because of its ethic; as a lad who never wanted to be a soldier myself I identified with its busting of the myth. The ten-year-old Danny repulsed by the “It’s a Man’s Life” TV recruitment campaign would have loved that book.

Eadweard - A Story Of 1066 Audiobook Cover

Ongoing, from a business perspective I am looking at ethical advertising both in sound and on video more so than audiobooks, but additionally in the medium term I have my eye on a couple of older works which are now in the Public Domain and for which I would assume the role analogous with rights holder as well as that of narrator.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.)  Step One is, sample it and improvise reading one or two previously unseen passages. See how it FEELS. That instinct is important, and I try to carry it with me throughout the creative process at the same time as balancing it with self-directing. Next, read the thing end to end; if you don’t do that you can paint yourself into a corner either with a wrong characterisation as the plot unfolds or, in non-fiction, with a compromised counter-argument. Try a few more passages as you go along, and revisit former ones. Note how different the passages you improvised feel when they are re-encountered. Rehearse. Mark the text with cues and emphases while progressing, considering any surprise inflections that might work to keep the audience engaged. Rehearse again. Set milestones. Go on the mic, for no more than half an hour at a time; after that amount of time mistakes will multiply. Avoid becoming a slave to the punctuation, especially if that punctuation is mechanised. Repeat whole sentences or at least clauses where you notice at the time there has been a blooper, without pausing. Then get technical with NR, EQ, and all that stuff. When editing bear in mind that sometimes it’s better to splice than merely to cut. Sometimes there is no option but to overdub, but don’t do that yet. Open a list of overdub requirements. Listen back, repairing any pops or clicks etc, while identifying any more overdubs. Listen again, following the text closely looking for misreads. Rely on it; there will be some, and consequently more overdubs. Each overdub is a miniature run of the “mic NR EQ pop click etc.” cycle.  Cry, scream, and yell, when the sound palette of the overdub doesn’t match the main body of your narrative. Rinse and repeat. FINALLY (um, not really finally) submit your Thing Of Beauty. Cry, scream, and yell, some more when the rights holder sends a list of …. overdub requirements! Rinse and repeat. Oh, and that other chap who waves his arms? Me too.

I didn’t mention mixing just now. I always record vox in mono but where music or SFX is involved I will decide based on the specifics of the case whether or not to mix in stereo. If it’s narration only, it stays in mono unless I need to emulate physical activity. However, they never needed a stereo mix in the days of Steam Radio, did they? We have lost a lot these days, with the “live” imperative supplanted by all this tech, and yet I am mindful of babies and bathwater. I prefer to use Adobe Audition. Some freeware is absolutely magnificent, but Audition’s visualisations and its brush and lasso repair tools in particular are all but indispensable. In the end you get what you pay for.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? In a sentence? I like the sound of my own voice! No, in all seriousness, performing is the buzz; I can’t say that I love the technical aspects. I did discover recently when invited to do a live reading that the dynamic is entirely different from studio work, so now I am looking to add that to the repertoire on a permanent basis.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? I certainly do. I think it unwise to dismiss either royalty share or finished-rate. Every project has its own business case. It depends on what balance you need to strike from time to time between visibility, prestige, and cash flow.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Not very often because in my limited leisure time I tend to read, looking for performance material! I spend more time listening to podcasts online. The audiobook that I have enjoyed the most – ever! – is David Suchet’s reading of “Death on the Nile”. Such characterisation! He is especially able when “doing” the women, and then there is all that over-the-top emoting, and excellent timing resulting from the great sound editing and audio engineering. What’s not to love? It is a lesson in the proper use of tech to give an enhanced performance experience. One of my bugbears is that the unavoidable pauses in “he-said-she-said” dialogue passages go unedited because of production time constraints. And people have been trained to like it, even to consider it best-practice. For me, while it’s fine in a live situation on a recording it just jars.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? Yes and no. It’s unfortunate in some respects that the old way is almost extinct, of Wise Old Heads occasionally reading from a book but frequently improvising around a detailed memory. There is nothing quite like a live performance in which the narrator responds to the audience’s cues and maybe interacts with them. The best stories can be retold with near-infinite variation – consider how folk music works. In my dreams at least, I foresee that style of performance returning as ordinary people’s reading comprehension skills continue to diminish – which I believe they are doing regardless of the A-level statistics. For now, though, as a society we are going through a “more of the same” loop in which hearing the same story repeatedly in exactly the same formulaic way is the “four legs good” of our era, and whether we like it or not the playback device is king. Equally, the playback device is an ideal medium for disseminating listen-once material, superior to radio because of its on-demand nature. In that context word-of-mouth, social media ads, and the Infernal MP3 Machine are the narrator’s best friends. Just as the phonograph paved the way for excellence in musical performance we must hope the MP3 does the same for narration, although in my view we aren’t quite there yet.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? The commuter lifestyle has a lot to do with it. The world of the past that I have described has largely been mechanised out of existence, and indeed that is the case even away from the urban cycle – in agriculture, for example, productivity demands shackle us to our tractors and our milking machines more than ever before. Changes in the popular music scene have made recorded music significantly less attractive to many than it has been previously, so the advent of affordable and – importantly – portable technology with which to hear something interesting is bringing the audiobook to the masses just like the Dansette did popular music half a century ago.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) It’s too early to say as regards earnings, but actually, I think it more realistic in my situation at least to seek prestige and visibility than it is to expect Big Bucks directly. It is an easy platform to use in the technical sense, while in another respect it falls somewhere in between an effective hiring fair and a useful additional networking tool, not so much with peer-to-peer networking (to steal an I.T. term) as in the wider literary community. Having said that, I think the signal-to-noise ratio in terms of networking opportunity is less than ideal.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Every experience is a learning opportunity. If you don’t see it that way, that is a negative in itself.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. People perceive me to be fearless but… while obviously, I wouldn’t choose to do so I would wrestle a Rottweiler (and probably lose), and yet I have an irrational fear of chickens.

Where can we learn more about you?

Website with onward links is here: http://www.thevoiceofdaniel.com/

For repertoire and samples , go straight to soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/dannyletham

If you want to check out Victoria and Danny’s work – please use the links below.

Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Eadweard-A-Story-of-1066-Audiobook/B0778V7XDC/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/652726
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/eadweard-victoria-zigler/1124182601
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/eadweard-a-story-of-1066
Chapters-Indigo
:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/eadweard-a-story-of-1066/9781370587865-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/eadweard-a-story-of-1066/id1137551399
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/eadweard-a-story-of-1066-unabridged/id1313336363
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eadweard-Story-1066-Victoria-Zigler/dp/1539534472/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Eadweard-Story-1066-Victoria-Zigler/dp/1539534472/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Eadweard-Story-1066-Victoria-Zigler/dp/1539534472/
The Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Eadweard-Story-1066-Victoria-Zigler/9781539534471
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31199382-eadweard—a-story-of-1066

Narrator Interview – Joseph Batzel

*Tell us a bit about yourself:

My name is Joseph Batzel. I live in a small community in Utah by the name of Brigham City and have lived here since 1980 when I moved from Florida. I have been married for 44 years to my wife Alice who happens to be a writer.

We have two sons Marco ages 43- and Matthew 42, and five lovely grandchildren.

I have a Master’s degree in Film and Theater from Brigham Young University. My emphasis was acting and directing.

I have been an educator for the last 40 years of my life and have taught middle school, high school, and presently teach at Utah State University as a part time faculty.

In working at my vocation as an educator, I began my avocation as a professional actor and director for stage, film, and TV. I have 250 credits in the performing industry. I have travelled throughout the US presenting workshops in acting and voice over. I love helping people nurture their talent in these fields of interest.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? I became involved with audiobook production early on in my career as a professional voice over artist. I have at least 150 credits in the voice over industry including radio, TV, animation, and audiobooks.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. I narrated an educational CD Titled “Great American Speeches” and did the voice of Abraham Lincoln, and also a family audiobook CD titled “Tales From Davy Jones Locker “Quetzalcoatl” where I was the Grandfather (narrator)

Do you have a favourite amongst these? I must say it was an honor to play Lincoln and read one of the most famous speeches in American History “The Gettysburg Address.”

Do you have a preferred genre? I love to narrate uplifting material. There is too much anger and hatred in the world. I enjoy material that inspires and motivates people to do positive things in life.

Do you have a genre you do not produce? As I previously mentioned, genres that are filled with gratuitous profanity, sex, violence, etc. I have no desire to be involved in those types of projects. Why is this? I have certain personal and religious standards, values, and principles that I don’t want to compromise.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I’m working on a motivational religious book. I just finished a five book children series, with an excellent author from England, Victoria Zigler, titled “Toby’s Tales.”

*Tell us about your process for narrating? (Be as elaborate as you like.) I have studied professional voice over training with some of the best professional voice over artists in the business. I also had an agent by the name of Linda Bearman that taught me the technique of voice over. I am very detailed in my approach. 1. I read over the script numerous times for content, meaning, characters, etc. 2. I take the script or text and break it down into paragraphs for narrating purposes. 3. I read through the script this time highlighting the character or character voices I’ll be recreating. 4. I mark where each voice changes and label each voice in my text. I use simple codes such as N for the Narrator T for Toby etc. 5. I read through the text practicing the voices aloud.

I go through the text numerous times until I am satisfied with my voice choices.

I do practice recordings until I feel comfortable with my choices. 8. Begin my recording sessions until it is close to perfect.

Edit the final draft.

Submit the work to the author, client, etc.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? Working and recording the character or character voices.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? Much of it depends on the popularity of the author or if their books are doing well in the various markets available.

Do you listen to audiobooks? I love audiobooks but you can imagine what a critic I am to narrators of the books.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? The market for audiobooks is booming for several reasons: 1. Technology 2. Availability of technology ex. I-Phones, laptops, I-Pads. Etc. 3. People are transit and travel more than ever on mass transit, cars, etc. 4. People would rather listen than read in this fast-paced world.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? Answered above!

Can you remember the first audio book you owned? My first and most favorite audiobook was the Harry Potter series narrated by James Dale. Mr. Dale did every character with such precision and professionalism, I listened to the whole series in less than two weeks.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) ACX provides unique opportunities for voice over artists to enter a simple profile, submit a demo, and bid for author’s titles by a submitting a short sample audition. Very smooth and professional.

 

The options of profit share and per hour rate are left up to the talent. That works for the talent and provides time for the narrator to research and find out about each author, and what their sales are on various marketing outlets.

The production end has been efficient and professional with adequate feedback from the author and the ACX production staff. The momentary rewards are yet to be determined.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? NO!

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I do a great impression of Elvis Presley “Thank you thank you very much.”

 

Where can we learn more about you? Facebook

Social Media links: Facebook, twitter.

Book 1 – Toby’s New World
Audible: http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-New-World-Audiobook/B074P7FV1M/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/229561
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5519989
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-new-world-victoria-zigler/1113041202
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-new-world
Chapters-Indigo:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-new-world/9781476234342-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-new-world/id562790799
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-new-world-tobys-tales-volume-1-unabridged/id1270858515
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-New-World-Tales/dp/1512358908/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-New-World-Tales/dp/1512358908/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Tobys-New-World-Tales/dp/1512358908/
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-New-World-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358902

Book 2 – Toby’s Monsters
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Monsters-Audiobook/B074SZ9BJX/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/247103
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5519996
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-monsters-victoria-zigler/1113744687
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-monsters
Chapters-Indigo:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-monsters/9781301157921-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-monsters/id574780594
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-monsters-tobys-tales-volume-2-unabridged/id1272267691
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Tobys-Monsters-2-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512358975
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/cka/Tobys-Monsters-2-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512358975
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/cka/Tobys-Monsters-2-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512358975
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Monsters-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358971

Book 3 – Toby’s Outing
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Outing-Audiobook/B074W95DRX/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/251587
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5520007
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-outing-victoria-zigler/1113846045
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-outing
Chapters-Indigo:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-outing/9781301643264-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-outing/id577001695
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-outing-tobys-tales-volume-3-unabridged/id1273856055
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Outing-3-Tales/dp/1512359041/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-Outing-3-Tales/dp/1512359041/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Tobys-Outing-3-Tales/dp/1512359041/
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Outing-Victoria-Zigler/9781512359046

Book 4 – Toby’s Games
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Games-Audiobook/B074WCT1W4/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/271594
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5520032
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-games-victoria-zigler/1114302957
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-games
Chapters-Indigo:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-games/9781301441082-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-games/id595641562
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-games-tobys-tales-volume-4-unabridged/id1274236264
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Tobys-Games-4-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359262/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/Books/Tobys-Games-4-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359262/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/Books/Tobys-Games-4-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359262/
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Games-Victoria-Zigler/9781512359268

Book 5 – Toby’s Special School
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Special-School-Tobys-Tales-Volume-5-Audiobook/B0756Q5KB1/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/281507
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5520068
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-special-school-victoria-zigler/1114473423
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-special-school
Chapters-Indigo
:
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-special-school/9781301489220-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-special-school/id600171798
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-special-school-tobys-tales-volume-5-unabridged/id1277169221
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Tobys-Special-School-5-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359335/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/Books/Tobys-Special-School-5-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359335/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/Books/Tobys-Special-School-5-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359335/
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Special-School-Victoria-Zigler/9781512359336

You can also find the books on Goodreads.

Book 1: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15992610-toby-s-new-world
Book 2: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16098832-toby-s-monsters
Book 3: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16127032-toby-s-outing
Book 4: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17209761-toby-s-games
Book 5: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17314257-toby-s-special-school

Audiobook Narrator Interview Number 10 – Charissa Clark Howe

 

*Name: Charissa Clark Howe

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I am a Presbyterian Minister, wife, mom of three, and marathoner, as well as being an audiobook narrator.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? I have been involved in theater for most of my life, both acting and singing. Since I’ve had children, that hasn’t been logistically feasible, but I have dearly missed acting. One day, I was listening to the NPR radio show “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” and the host mentioned to a caller that she had a “very distinctive voice.” She thanked him and said that she’s an audiobook narrator. Something lit up inside my head and I thought, “Wait a minute. . . you can do that as a job? That sounds amazing!” So I went online and did a quick Google search for “how to become an audiobook narrator.” I stumbled across the Audiobook Creation Exchange website and the rest is history!

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I recently narrated two novels that I absolutely love. One is “Paper Doll” by Joe Cosentino and the other is “Angela’s Coven” by Bruce Jenvey. They are very different books, but both have great messages, fun characters, and a great deal of heart. I am hoping to start narrating more books in both of those series in the future.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I started off with little non-fiction books on things like Microsoft Excel and internet marketing, just to get my feet wet. But I quickly got bored with those. My favorites are light-hearted novels. I will not produce romance novels. I won’t even read romance novels on my own time. I don’t see any value in them.

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I’m currently working on a four part philosophy tome, and a few shorter novels.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I like to start by skimming the books to get a feel for the characters. After that, I just start recording. That means I often have several takes of different pieces, but I find that keeps the story fresher for me as I read.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  I love studying and learning how to act with new accents.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? I do consider royalty share when narrating, but I’m very picky about the quality of books I’ll pick up for royalty share. I’m still a bit of a newbie at this audiobook narration gig, but I also don’t want to spend hours reading something that’s not really very good.

Do you listen to audiobooks? All the time!

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I don’t think it’ll take the place of reading books for one’s self, but I do think that it’s really a great medium that I’m happy to see taking off. My family and I listen to many audiobooks together in the car and we have elderly and blind family members who all appreciate being able to listen to books. It makes them accessible in new places and to people who might not have had a chance to read many books before.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? I think I just answered that above. 🙂

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? I don’t remember exactly, but it was probably The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. That’s my favorite book ever.

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? I am hoping to have a novel published in the next year. I have thought a great deal about if I’ll narrate it myself or see what life someone else might be able to breathe into the story. I haven’t landed on a decision one way or the other yet.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) And then some! I didn’t expect things to take off so fast for me.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? I actually had an author decide after I’d produced half a book that she’d rather just read it herself. She refused to pay for the time that I’d already spent on the project. I was livid. Every other experience has been great, though. All the authors and producers have been friendly, professional, and understanding.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have two pet rats named after my husband’s favorite mystery novel heroes: Lord Peter Whimsy and Hercule Poirot.

 

Where can we learn more about you? www.charissaclarkhowe.com

Social Media links:

twitter: @pastorcharissah

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pastorcharissah/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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.