Audiobooks I've Listened To - Ready Player One

As an audiobook narrator, it's very important to also listen to audiobooks. I've listened to quite a few, and thought that some of you out there might be interested in what I've listened to!

This time I'm going to jog from Fantasy over to Science Fiction and talk about Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and narrated by Wil Wheaton.

Set in a dystopian future where a virtual reality world called the 'OASIS' is as important (or more so!) than the real world, the real charm of the book is in the many call-backs to 80's pop culture.  As someone who grew up during the 1980's, that aspect of the book definitely resonated with me.

It also seems to resonate with Wheaton, as his passion for the novel really comes through in his read.  I think this is really a great demonstration of how engaging a narrator can be when they really connect to the material.  This really is a great match of narrator to book.

For me, this is a good example of how I can connect to my listeners if I'm to be fully engaged with the book I'm narrating.

Ready Player One is an entertaining audio book and I recommend it.  And if you have fond memories of the 80's, then I think it's one you definitely don't want to miss!

Audiobooks I've Listened To - The Name of the Wind

As an audiobook narrator, it's very important to also listen to audiobooks. I've listened to quite a few, and thought that some of you out there might be interested in what I've listened to!

This week, the train of fantasy books continues with The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and narrated by Nick Podehl.

The Name of the Wind and its sequel The Wise Man's Fear are both engrossing stories with memorable characters.  More pertinent for me, though are the incredible characterizations performed by Nick Podehl.

In my last blog entry, I talked about how Roy Dotrice used different voices within the same accent for different characters from the same family or region.  Nick Podehl takes this to another level in The Name of the Wind.  The thing that really makes Podehl's performance more meaningful for me is that his voice is very similar to my own.  It really opened my eyes to how versatile a narrator can really be without having a deep dramatic voice like Michael Kramer or the authority of Dotrice's British accent.

So The Name of the Wind also gets a high recommendation from me.  For both story and performance, you definitely can't go wrong.

Audiobooks I've Listened To - A Game of Thrones

As an audiobook narrator, it's very important to also listen to audiobooks. I've listened to quite a few, and thought that some of you out there might be interested in what I've listened to!

This time it's one that most will be familiar with, A Game of Thrones.

Back before the TV show I heard the A Song of Ice and Fire books lauded on a podcast I listen to, The D6 Generation.  It was based on that recommendation that I listened to A Game of Thrones.

The story sucked me in immediately, of course, and I was as shocked (and enthralled!) as many are at the convention-breaking nature of the plot.

But what really brought home the experience was Roy Dotrice's narration.  His work on these books is nothing short of masterful.  There are so many characters that need voices coming from many different geographical regions.  Dotrice manages to make the voices distinct, and even manage to give characters from different families or countries have similar accents.

These books are a joy to listen to and really opened my eyes as to how much a narrator can bring to a story.

I highly recommend giving these books a listen, particularly if you've only watched the TV series and haven't experienced the books.

Have you listened to the A Song of Ice and Fire audiobooks?  What audiobooks have you listened to recently?  Let me know!

Voice Box Audio Books Seminar

Early this January, I had the privilege to be asked to share what I've learned as a self-started audio book narrator at a seminar hosted by Voice Box.  It was a great experience, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to speak with a room full of people interested in getting their own start in audio book narration!

Talking through it really brought home how far I've come since I started recording my first audio book, Nebulous: Jet Black Book One.  It felt great to give the attendees a head start on their own careers in audio books.

The Unreconstructed M and Other Stories

I'm excited to announce the release of my latest audio book, The Unreconstructed M and Other Stories by Philip K. Dick!  It's a collection of 13 classic Philip K. Dick short stories including The Unreconstructed MBeyond Lies the WubThe DefendersMeddler, and Of Withered Apples.

Be sure to head over to Audible, Amazon, or iTunes and check it out!

In other news, I've started work on my next project, The Atomic Sea Part Four: The Twilight City by Jack Conner.  Dr. Francis Avery and his companions found themselves in a terrible situation at the end of Part Three, and it looks like their troubles are far from over!  Find out when Part Four is out by the end of January!

I'm Back to Blogging!

Hello!  It's been a while!  I'm going to try and get this blog back up and going to keep you updated on what's going on with me.  A few things have happened since my last post back in May.

One thing is that I've changed my recording method a bit!  So my previous blog posts are already out of date.  I'm now using true Punch and Roll recording with Studio One.  It's really helped my editing time and made it easier to keep up the consistency of my recordings.  If you're doing any sort of narration, I highly recommend using the Punch and Roll method!  I may go into more detail in a future post.

Also, since my last post I've had three new audio books published!

The Atomic Sea: Volume Two

The Atomic Sea: Volume Three

ZDate: A Zombie Romance

I've also started work on a collection of Philip K. Dick short stories!  I've been uploading samples to my SoundCloud account.  Take a listen this one from Meddler, and head over to my account page to hear some more Philip K. Dick samples, as well as a few other things I've done.

Thanks!  And I hope to keep you updated with more about what's going on with me soon! 

My Audio Book Recording Method, Part 2

Welcome back!  This time I'm going to talk about what I do when I'm actually recording a section of an audio book.

First and most obvious is that I'll have my manuscript handy.  I have mine printed on physical paper.  Tablets or computers could be used, but I don't have a tablet and my setup doesn't make reading from the computer convenient, so it's paper for me!  I'll grab just the section I plan to record.

Then I'll scan through it for logical break points in that section of the manuscript.  If the chapters are shorter (like they were in Nebulous), then I break it up by chapter.  If the chapters are longer (like they were in The Atomic Sea), then I'll try to find 'ellipsis' breaks.  If there aren't any of those, I'll just section it off into groups of three pages or so.

Before I actually start recording, I'll do a level check.  I'll record a paragraph or so and check the sound level on my laptop to make sure it's where I want it to be.  The idea is that you want to record as 'hot' as you can while still leaving some space for processing after it's done.  If it's too soft, you can lose quality when having to bring up the level to it's final point.  If it's too loud, you might 'clip' while recording, which is lost data at the extremes of the waveform.  That can lead to distortion in the recording.

Clipping is when the waveform goes beyond the bounds of the graph.

Clipping is when the waveform goes beyond the bounds of the graph.

Once I'm sure my recording level is good, I'll start recording for 'real'.  Before I say anything, though, I record about 10 seconds of silence.  This is called 'Room Tone'.  I'll use a nice, even piece of this (about a half-second's worth) in the editing process later on.

As I'm recording the text, invariably I'll make a stumble.  It could be a word that I read incorrectly, a character voice that I don't quite hit, or even just a line that didn't quite sound the way I think it should have.  When this happens, I stop the recording, go back to the start of the previous sentence and delete the bad take.  Then I start the recording and pick back up with the chunk I just deleted.

When I'm done, I should have a section of the book that is clean from the perspective of the text and of the performance.  However, there will be long breaks where I stopped and restarted my recording that need to be removed, as well as other mistakes that I may have missed while I was recording.  I'll get into how I deal those in my next blog entry.

Thanks for reading!

My Audio Book Recording Method, Part 1

If you're not already familiar with recording and audio production, you might be curious as to exactly how it's done.  I'll share my current method here, but keep in mind that, while there are accepted techniques, everyone has their own way of doing things.  Also, since we're always looking to make things faster and more efficient, methods will evolve over time with new equipment, software, or learned techniques.

When I'm working on an audio book, I like to record full chapters.  One of the challenging things about long-form narration is that you simply cannot do it in a single session.  The voice can only handle so much work at a time!  The difficulty is keeping the sound of the recording consistent over several sessions.

Many factors contribute to the sound of a given recording.  Some are easy to control, like your equipment (microphone, digital interface, etc.) and your recording space.  Some can take some effort, but are fully in your control.  These include where you microphone is positioned and how where you are relative to it (distance, angle, posture, etc.)  Some can be difficult to control, such as the general condition of your voice, which will vary day to day based on things like how well you slept the night before.

Microphone positioning is very important to getting a consistent sound.

Microphone positioning is very important to getting a consistent sound.

So what this means is that if you record a part of a chapter one day and then come back to record the second part the next day, they may sound subtly different.  It may not be much, but it's likely to be detectable to a listener, and it can be momentarily jarring to have that sort of shift in the sound in the middle of a chapter. 

Because of this, I prefer to do all the recording on a chapter, including the first editing pass, in a single session.  This makes it much easier to make the chapter sound seamless, even when having to go back through and make edits.  The tough part is that it requires a lot of 'studio' time, which can be difficult to come by for me.

Next time, I'll go into more detail about what actually happens as I record.

Thanks for reading!

Welcome to my Blog!

Thanks for visiting my page and reading my Blog!  Here, I hope to post updates on the work I'm doing in Voice Overs and Narration.

For instance, to date I have two published audio books that are available for purchase on Audible.com, Amazon.com, and iTunes!

The first is Nebulous: Jet Black Book One by T.S. Littlefield.

It's a Young Adult Science Fiction novel about Jet Black, a 13 year old boy, who begins to discover a hidden world after the death of his grandfather.  It's appropriate for young listeners, but the story is good enough to hold up for adults as well.

The second book I did is The Atomic Sea: Volume One by Jack Conner.

This one is a Science Fiction/Fantasy epic adventure story set in a strange world.  Dr. Francis Avery is serving on a navy ship hunting whales on the deadly Atomic Sea.  When his friend is murdered and a strange woman is pulled from the waters, he finds himself caught in plots and events much bigger than he could have imagined.

If you've listened to either of my books, please let me know what you think in the comments!  And it would also help me out a lot if you would write a review on Audible.

Thanks!