For me, the strangest part about making an audiobook was that 99.99999% of the work belonged to someone else this time. I’ve never done voice acting or narration before, and
For me, the strangest part about making an audiobook was that 99.99999% of the work belonged to someone else this time. I’ve never done voice acting or narration before, and my background in sound design all happened in professional-ish studios at college or in very serious local bands garages. So I had a lot of questions for Elizabeth about her process! Read on to find out more about the narrator for The Poppet and the Lune, and how the audiobook was created!
What made you decide to take up voice acting/narration?
E.B: I’ve always loved doing imitations and quoting my favorite tv shows and movies–I think I get that from my mom. It was just a natural thing from the time I was little to say something or make a joke and then quote one of my favorite characters to go along with it, imitating their voice. When I got to college, I did imitations for my friends all the time: of characters, of people we’d met, of my friends themselves. It got to the point where pretty much everyone knew, “if you’re friends with Elizabeth, you’d better get used to her making weird noises/voices and saying strange things all the time.” And my true friends accepted it, and even liked it. (Or so they tell me, haha!)
I’d been interested in pursuing voice acting as a career for a long time, but I wasn’t sure how to get into it. Audiobook narration wasn’t a means I’d considered until one day when my sister had a migraine and asked me to read a book aloud to her, since she couldn’t read it herself. That was sort of what put the idea of audiobooks in my mind–I enjoyed reading the book aloud, and she enjoyed listening to it.
TPaL was your first audiobook project – how steep was the learning curve?
E.B.: It wasn’t too bad, fortunately! I already had some experience with audio and video editing programs, which was a big help. This was my first time using the specific editing program I use now–an open source program called Audacity–so that took a bit of getting used to. Mastering the audio to all of ACX’s required specifications was also a confusing learning process, but the Audacity forums were a lot of help. There are a number of other ACX narrators on there who were able to share their experiences and give tips to help first time editors get everything exactly right. There was a lot of trial and error, but I enjoyed it, and luckily it wasn’t too overwhelming!
What was your favorite scene to narrate? (No spoilers!)
E.B.: That’s a tough one–I really enjoyed the whole book because each new part, each new chapter introduced new emotions, new settings or new characters. I think one of my favorites was when the patchwork girl meets the Banshi, and then Aubrey, Scarlet, and Aurelia. It was so much fun to do all those different voices. Since they and the patchwork girl all talk to each other for quite a while, it was important to me to ensure that the listener could easily distinguish between all five characters. Their interactions were so endearing, and I love those girls and seeing how their storylines developed. I honestly adore the entire section that took place in Prince Baylis’ castle. Those chapters are my favorite parts of the book, both as a narrator and a reader.
What was the hardest scene to narrate?
E.B.: I’d have to say the scenes with Gabriel, because his voice was described as being so deep. I tried to talk as deeply as possible, but I had to do a LOT of takes because it was hard to keep my tone low enough. The scene where Gabriel is negotiating with the patchwork girl in his cave was particularly challenging. That whole section of the book is very emotional and raw and dramatic, so I did my best to convey that–not just through the characters’ voices, but through the narration as well.
Favorite character to voice?
E.B.: Definitely the Banshi. I struggled with her at first because I was having trouble settling on what she should sound like. I did a lot of different practice versions that just weren’t right. Finally, after I thought about it more carefully, I realized: a banshee doesn’t talk, she wails! I tried to focus on the description of her voice in the book, and make it sound like my voice was wavering up and down a few octaves, very breathy. It was so much fun and I was really proud of how it came out.
What does you recording set up look like (what kind of mic, audio software, etc.) and where is it located?
E.B.: I have a room over the garage that I converted into a sound studio. I did a lot of research on the best way to build a home studio without breaking the bank, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Voice actor James Arnold Taylor has a great series of videos on YouTube that demonstrate how you can use materials you have on hand and achieve professional results. Everyday items like egg crates, towels, pillows and blankets all make fantastic noise-dampening materials, which is hugely important if you want to produce an audioboook–ACX has very strict guidelines to ensure professional quality in every production, so it’s important to have a well-constructed studio that’s as sound-proof as possible.
For equipment, I use a CAD USB microphone, with a CAD pop filter. This microphone is great. It captures very crisp, high-quality sound, but it was much more affordable than many others on the market right now. And since it is USB, it has the convenience of plugging it directly into my computer. When I edit, I use Sennheiser HD 201 headphones. They are perfect because they pick up all the little pops and background noise I might otherwise miss. They are also very comfortable. The editing software, like I mentioned earlier, is an open-source program called Audacity. It is a wonderful little program, easy to use, and best of all, it’s free! It’s a popular choice among narrators at ACX, and I highly recommend it.
What book is your DREAM narration project?
E.B.: I would love to do some sort of children’s book or series. I love coming up with voices for magical creatures! I am a big fan of Emily Rodda’s “Fairy Realm” and “Deltora Quest” series, so any projects similar to those would be an enormous thrill.
Any other projects you’re working on now?
E.B.: I am currently narrating “Southern Greed” by Peggy Holloway, an adult mystery/thriller set in the South in the 1960s. It is a really gripping book, and a lot of fun to be working on!
If you’d like to know more about Elizabeth and her work, feel free to check her out on Twitter (@elizabethvoices) or her website, VoicesByElizabeth.com! Or better yet, check out her debut audiobook, The Poppet and the Lune, on Amazon, Audible, or iTunes!
Thanks so much for stopping by, Elizabeth!
If you’d like a chance to win a free copy of The Poppet and the Lune audiobook, click here to enter our drawing!
That’s right folks! I’ve ventured into the world of ACX and audiobook production, and now I have a genuine audiobook produced and up for sale! Check it out! (Also check out my improved cover design skillz ;D)
This was my first time working with ACX and TPaL’s narrator, Elizabeth Basalto, and it was an amazing experience! Elizabeth brought a fresh perspective to the story of Faolin and the patchwork girl, and hearing her bring TPaL to life was absolutely thrilling for me as an author. I have always felt that The Poppet and the Lune, out of everything I’ve written, lends itself to spoken storytelling, and Elizabeth proved that feeling right. :D
So check it out, listen to the sample audio, and tell us what you think!
I’m terrible at keeping a blog. I have no excuses, and finally I no longer feel like I need one. So let this be the last thing I say on the subject.
Moving on: what’s been going on with me? I’m in a 2 personal year, which is boring. If you follow numerology at all, (which you probably don’t because most reasonable people do not, so I will explain in context) then you know that a 2 personal year comes after the excitement and drama and BIG CHANGES of a 1 personal year. In my 1 personal year, I was fired from my job, released two novels that I am really proud of, got a new and better job, and my marriage came to a rather abrupt and unsettling end. Also, just at the tail end of my 1 personal year (they begin and end on your birthday) my best friend and her wife moved into my house with me. So my 1 year was exciting and emotionally exhausting.
A 2 personal year is all about reflection, introspection, and learning. My 2 personal year has been BORING. I’ve tried hard to get amped up about things and ideas, but the universal forces are against my enthusiasm and stubbornness. The universal forces are telling me to chill the fuck out and regroup, reframe, re-establish who and what I am. And even though I’m all about the phoenix cycle, this is some slow-going work these months. There have been no epiphanies–no exciting dawning of understanding–no realizations.
All there has been is a sort of agonizingly slow acceptance of the fact that sometimes I just have to sit still, rest, watch, and listen.
Changes have happened. I have changed a great deal. But these aren’t quantifiable changes–they aren’t the kind of changes I can document or write blog posts about. I spent a week alone on a college campus. I read about wild women and middle aged women and girls who lose their wild ways. I remembered something I can’t articulate about what I am. I gathered bones in the forest, and watched a night blooming sirius come to life, and harvested more tomatoes than I planted, and I did not write a god damn useful word of fiction whatsoever.
I ached at that. I still ache. I mourned parts of me that I didn’t realize had been alive until they died. I’m still grieving for losses that I’m not even conscious of, and losses that linger at the back of my mind, ugly truths that I refuse to face until I can reframe them into something useful–into soil that can be tilled and sowed and tended.
The only thing I can tell you about my 2 personal year so far is that I’ve learned, deeply–acutely–that life changes us. You cannot ever go back, you cannot ever recapture. You can only forge forward, and sometimes that means pausing, resting, and re-examining the very truths you’ve built your life and your identity upon.
And that can be the scariest thing of all.
I hate this year, no matter how much I know I need it. I hate feeling stuck and inactive. I hate hitting a wall every time I build momentum. I hate that I can’t orchestrate my life and force myself to cooperate and take action and get things done. But I love that, right now, I know myself better than I ever have before. I’m communicating with myself better, loving myself more, honoring and being honest with myself in every way. I love knowing that anything is possible from where I’m standing. I love knowing that nothing stays the same. I love knowing that I’m on the right path, because all paths are the right path, just so long as you keep moving forward, even if those steps are singular, slow, and miniscule.
I have a long way to go, still, in my 2 year, and now that I’ve finally–finally–stopped fighting it, I think I’m going to enjoy the next few months a lot better than the first. If I can only learn to be present, to stop imposing my trained beliefs about how I should be living my life on myself…I think I will be a lot happier, for the rest of my life.
(Also, yes, I’m still working on ARCANA: Book II. No idea when it will be out though, sorry :/)
Of all the national holidays for my country, Independence Day is the one I can actually get behind. It’s not that I’m unpatriotic–far from it. I love my country, even with all it’s many (MANY) flaws. But I don’t like a lot of the things that come to mind when you think of America–where women’s uteruses are more legislated than our firearms, and when you ask “did you hear about that school shooting the other day?” most people have to respond with “which one?”, and where money buys legislative votes, the people’s opinions are not represented in politics, and medical developments are fueled by profit instead of humanitarianism. There’s quite a bit about the state of things right now that I don’t like, but I have a lot of faith in humanity, and a lot of hope for my country to get things right, ultimately.
Independence Day is a great holiday because it reminds me of the roots of this country. It reminds me of how badass we used to be, throwing tea into the ocean like a punk rock riot, flipping off the crown (or biting our thumbs at the crown?) and pulling a Sarah-from-Labyrinth like “I HAVE FOUGHT MY WAY HERE TO THE
CASTLE COLONY BEYOND THE GOBLIN CITY ATLANTIC OCEAN–ETC…um…YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER ME!” I mean, look at the Declaration of Independence. Those old dudes got it. And it’s proof that there was a time in history when the people who would become the United States of America were forward-thinking, socially progressive, freedom-loving, genuine human beings.
Were they perfect? Hell no. But the things they stood for were important enough and real enough that, over time, adhering to those values forced ye olde white men to bring about real, lasting, important change. Sure, sometimes those values seem to get lost in the mess up on Capitol Hill, but look: we weren’t perfect then, and we’re not perfect now. But we’re always moving forward–even when some SCOTUS rulings make us seriously doubt that forward momentum.
For better or for worse, the USA is a country that has been crafted to expect and implement change. And what that means is that this country will never become static. Improvement is always possible, and in the longterm history of things, it’s actually highly likely. We may not be where we want to be today, but we’re a hell of a lot closer than we were even twenty years ago.
So I think about that, on the 4th of July, watching fireworks displays and eating hotdogs and listening to the often misinterpreted lyrics of “Born in the USA” blasting from my neighbor’s window. I think about that every time some startlingly awful decision is made by any of the three branches of our government. I think about that every time another state rules in favor of marriage equality.
Sometimes things are bad–but the foundation of this country leads me to believe that they can and will always, eventually, get better.
It’s a bit of a non-secret, but I have a ghost writing gig that I’ve been doing on the side to make some extra cash and keep my chops up while I’m not emotionally ready to dive into another soul book. The books I publish under my real name are all books that I consider soul books. Partially because they seem to come from mysterious, magical, deeply spiritual places, and partially because they tax me, spiritually, to write. This is why I’m not the best business model for self publishing–I don’t produce enough content to make a steady income. I just can’t write that fast.
So I’ve been finishing up another ghost writer project while finally shaking the last of the winter doldrums. May was overcast and rainy around here, so it feels like it’s taken FOREVER for Spring/Summer to really arrive. But now that it’s here? I’m flourishing like an invasive weed in an unkempt lawn! (I work for a lawn care company now, just go with it.)
This time last year I was releasing The Hierophant: Book I in the Arcana Series. It is a very important book to me, partially because it was written over the span of some of the best and worst years of my life, and it represents some of the best and worst realities I had to accept about myself as a writer. But I’ve been dreaming of the sequel since before the first draft of the first book was even halfway done.
So, it shouldn’t surprise you that what I’m currently working on is that sequel: Book II in the Arcana Series. I can’t talk about it in too much detail here, but there is so much I WANT to talk about, and it’s killing me! But I will give you this kind of awesome teaser for now:
Book II is not ONLY about Ana, nor is it ONLY from her point of view. As you probably figured out from the first book, Ana’s dazzling, unusual, and incredibly brave not-just-a-sidekick best friend, Kyla, has her own story to tell, and I cannot wait to share it with you.
That’s all I can say for now! But if you want a glimpse of what I’m up to, follow my Tumblr and be on the lookout for anything tagged “arcana series.” I’ll be posting a ton of visual inspiration for the next novel and the series as a whole.
Now, back to work!
When my ex moved out in December, I was at a bit of a loss for what to do with the house we’d bought together. Sure, it was technically all mine (the mortgage and deed are both in my name) but fair is fair and he’d been paying half the mortgage since we moved in. However, he had agreed to stay until the house sold, and that didn’t end up happening, so…fair is fair. I was stuck with the mortgage, so the house was/is mine.
Still, it was more than I could afford by my lonesome. I was looking at either moving into a studio apartment in a terrible neighborhood (that I still probably couldn’t afford) (and only if I could find a place that would let me bring my 3 cats and one dog) or buying a very small house in a terrible neighborhood (that I could afford, but eeehhhh). The whole prospect was very overwhelming.
Meanwhile, across town, my best friend and her wife have been trying to move to Massachusetts for years. Their house has a grudge against them and despite their success as independently published authors something always seems to stand in the way of them being able to sell their house and move. For over a year I’ve listened to some rather exciting but totally alarming ideas they’ve had about how to Make The Move, and as much as I admire their bravery my Taurean practicality had something to say.
“Why don’t you move in with me?” I offered. “We’d split everything, so we’d be saving money. You’d be able to get your pets out of the house so you could fix it and sell it. You’d have time to save up for a down-payment for when you do move to MA. And, come on, we’ve been best friends for almost 10 years. I think this could be MAGICAL.”
Cue clouds parting, sun shining, angels singing.
It took less than three months for them to pack up their lives and their animals and move into my 3 bedroom colonial in South Buffalo. Everything fell into place so quickly and easily, as if the Universe Itself was managing the move. It’s been about 3 weeks now since they’ve moved in (along with their dogs and cats, who have blended perfectly with my animals), and Buffalo is very slowly creeping into actual spring-like weather. The perfect time of year to ease into a new beginning. Accordingly, we have re-christened the house: Sparkle Star Manor.
(The joke of “Sparkle Star Manor” is that I’m not actually a very sparkly person–I’m more of a smoldering embers kind of person that occasionally shoots off sparks–but my roommates are VERY sparkly. However, when I was about 6 or 7 years old, I used to insist that I was going to change my name to Sparkle Star because I thought it was the coolest. So the name was resurrected because, regardless of how sparkly or not we are as people, our home together is going to be a hurricane of magic and excitement that can only really be named Sparkle Star Manor.)
I could go on an on about how cool it is to live with your best friend, even at the age of 28 (29 in a month!), or how weird/awesome it is to come home after a day at the office to a clean house and a fresh pot of tea and two people who are genuinely interested in listening and sharing. I could go on and on about the amazing conversations we’ve already had, the magic that we can feel is taking shape within the walls of the house, the amazing things we have planned for the year ahead. But for now it is enough for me just to look around me and feel at peace. For the first time in years I feel like I don’t have to worry about anything. Everything is good. Everything is alright.
Also: if the idea of three mildly eccentric authors living and writing together is at all fascinating to you, you’re in luck! We’ve started a blog. We’ll be chronicling our adventures, posting lots of pictures, and sharing a boat-load of recipes since we have a vegetarian, a gluten-free vegan, and a soy-free Paleo in the house, and WE LOVE A CHALLENGE in the kitchen.
Alternative lifestyles! I live them!
OKAY ladies and gents. Time for some honesty. Let’s rap.
Obviously, I have been neglecting this blog. I used to post these passionate dissertations on creativity, writing, industry, self care, etc. I used to post things that maybe some of you found helpful. I didn’t used to just talk about where you could buy my books (which I know is something I *should* do if I want people to buy my books, but definitely shouldn’t be the *only* thing I do). The point is I haven’t been using this blog the way I wanted to, and I intend to get back to the good ol’ days of inspirational and funny and exciting posts as soon as possible.
But I have a reason for why this blog has been so inactive and bland this winter season. Two reasons, actually. Justifications, maybe. Excuses, really. But good ones.
Reason One: I guess I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (inappropriately named because research suggests it’s NORMAL to get tired when it’s cold and sunless, and it’s NORMAL to get depressed when you’re forcing yourself to operate as if it was sunny and warm out). I’ve been in denial about it for the last 10 years or so, but every winter I develop symptoms of chronic fatigue and chronic depression, and no amount of positive self-talk, exercise, good eating, acupuncture, or looking at pictures of baby animals on the internet has been able to remedy that. In fact, this year I gave myself permission to NOT write this winter, because usually I force myself to write and make myself even more horribly (HORRIBLY) depressed when I can’t. Alleviating some of the pressure to produce helped a lot with my tendency to drive myself into a self-loathing all-hope-is-lost I’ll-never-be-able-to-write-again what-is-the-point-of-anything depression.
This isn’t a pity party, though! I’m not giving up on finding a way to thrive during the chill winter months. Now that I’ve accepted it’s a real issue, I know to start in October with things like vitamin D supplementation, light box therapy, and lightening my psychological load. Also, I eat super-healthy style about 90% of the time so at least I know that’s not an issue.
Reason Two: This past October, my husband and I decided that our marriage was over. So, you know, that was kind of a big deal.
I’m still processing it in my own way. It was a complicated split that raised a lot of questions about life and relationships and the expectations of both of those things. It also made me question a lot of what I thought I knew about myself and how Reality works. But still, as much as I know it was the right choice–and as much as I know how much happier my life is now that I’m not trapped in an unhealthy marriage–I cannot overstate how difficult it was to overcome the shame and guilt attached to the realization that I want to be happy and (after years of giving everything I have to save it) I am willing to end this marriage for that happiness. Kind of messed up that I would even think about staying in a terrible marriage at the price of my own well-being.
Oh, wait, but that’s exactly what our society teaches us to do.
Anyway. Still processing. Still transitioning. I bounce between feeling fabulous and free, and being a bitter man-hating shrew (actually I know too many awesome dudes to be a man-hater for long). But life goes on.
So there are my reasons for not being around on ye olde blog this winter. But I intend to change that! There are a lot of crazy awesome positive things that I’d like to share you you all, rather than sulking around in my still overcast and chilly hometown questioning the validity/worth of the institution of marriage. For instance: Did I mention I have two fabulous roommates now? And we’ve re-christened the house under a more fabulous and sparkly new name?
More on that next week ;)
Just a quick update:
Tomorrow I will be selling and signing books at the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair along with MANY other artists, writers, and publishers. This is my first time doing a public event and I’m admittedly a little bit nervous. But it should be a lot of fun! I get to meet other local artists, tell people about my books, and hopefully get my name out there! I even ordered up some fancy bookmarks for the event (If I have any extra, I’ll let you know! ;D)!
If you’re in the Buffalo, NY area, I hope to see you there!
I’m happy to announce that Ghost City is finally available in a beautiful, physical, printed and bound format–complete with the scent of fresh book binding glue and the heft of over 300 pages of riveting, post-apocalyptic ghost action!
You can purchase the print version on Amazon (and get the Kindle version free through the matchbook program!), or you can get a signed copy from my Etsy shop (Unknown Press) and get your choice of e-Reader file (.mobi, .epub, .pdf) for free!
Also, I’m giving away a free signed copy on Goodreads! (US only. Sorry!)
Side note: I’m excited to tell you that I will be signing and selling books with fellow local authors, book binders, and artists at the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair on Saturday, April 5 2014! If you’re local or close enough, I would LOVE to see you there!
Have a great week!
Happy Book Birthday to my baby, Ghost City! It’s now available on Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords (where you can download all eReader formats), and is coming soon to BN.com and print! I will most definitely let you know when all of that is available :)
What can I say about this book? It’s a lot of things to me. It’s the book that represents 2013, the Year That Changed Everything for me. The year I got fired. The year I finally told myself it was OKAY TO NOT SETTLE. The year I realized more about who I am and what I want from life than in all the 27 years that came before. 2013 was a year of endings and beginnings, all wrapped up into a handful of moments that, absolutely, changed everything.
In 2012, I wasn’t ready to write this book. It’s like nothing I’ve ever written before, and yet it is exactly what I write. It is weird. It is unusual. It is a bit of a mindf**k for lack of a prettier word, and I wasn’t sure I had the chops to pull it off. While it is about young adults, it is not a YA novel. I’ve been calling it a “post-apocalyptic ghost story,” but to be specific it’s more along the lines of “a work of speculative literary fiction with a touch of magical realism.” But that’s not very catchy, is it?
It’s 2014 now. I’ve written a novel that I can say, without a doubt, is the best thing I’ve ever written. But I’ll let you be the judge of that. :)
Thank you all so, so much for supporting my stories. I hope you enjoy this new one.
Check out all the teasers leading up to the release!
(Read teaser No. 1 here)
(Read teaser No. 2 here)
(Read teaser No. 3 here)
(Read teaser No. 4 here)
(Read teaser No. 5 here)
(Read teaser No. 6 here)
(Read teaser No. 7 here)
(Read teaser No. 8 here)
(Read teaser No. 9 here)
(Read teaser No. 10 here)
(Read teaser No. 11 here)
(Read teaser No. 12 here)