New book covers and stuff

I get quiet on this blog when I’m busy creating things. Here are some of the pretty things I’ve been working on:

I’ve been working on making new covers for my historical shifter stories. Aren’t they pretty? Much better than the terrible covers they had before. These are set in a fantasy world loosely based on the Regency period in England, so you have women in dresses and men in top hats drinking tea and sometimes turning into monsters. There’s romance, but no sex. Which is one reason I think they don’t sell much, ha! But I still love them all. And yes, they each feature a different kind of shifter. I still think the werefox is the most original (nothing like a good cup of tea to set you right!).

I’ve finally completed an audiobook of the second fanfic in the series I was doing. Here’s the first audiobook, and here’s the second one. I got a lot of advice on the first one, namely, “DON’T TALK SO FAST!” So I tried to slow it down a lot for this second one. I find that talking slower leads to a better performance, too. I’m sure there’s seasoned actors out there snickering at me for figuring this out. I feel like I’m slowly building up courage to record an audiobook of my original work.

In other news, I’ve been drawing a lot and writing a lot. It’s amazing how a nice, boring, routine life promotes a creative mind. The kids love being on a routine, because they always know what we’re doing next (even if it’s math).

I feel like I’m slowly coming out of this scary survival place where I’ve been hiding for the last decade. It’s hard to be creative when your brain is shut down in fear all the time. But things are stable, and I feel like I’m turning back into a human being again. All I want to do is create things. And you can tell, because look how pretty those new covers are!

Here’s a composite artwork I’m very proud of, too:

artemis-dream

This is me drawing a made-up Sonic character, then going crazy with Photoshop compositing and various special effects brushes. Oh yeah, those tutorials on matte painting are paying off.

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Audiobooks are hard to do

Audiobooks are exploding right now. There’s lots of articles talking about how everybody likes to listen to books on their phones, like this one. Listening to books on your commute is another one. I’m constantly seeing cozy mystery readers who are frustrated that their favorite series aren’t available on audiobook yet (especially people whose eyesight isn’t so good.)

I’ve been tossing around the idea of narrating my own books, for example, my cozy dragon mysteries. They have a female protagonist, and I think it would be a good fit. But I need to practice. So when somebody asked me if I planned to turn my fanfics into audiobooks, I thought, why not?

The fun thing about fanfics is I don’t have to mess with Audible. I can drop them on Youtube without worrying about Audible’s strict sound quality requirements. I can flounder around and make production mistakes and have volume issues and nobody cares because, hey, fanfic.

thunderhead_and_pirate_ship_by_ebineyland-d6ff3yz
Thunderhead and pirate ship by Ebineyland

My hubby gets up at 4:30 AM most mornings for work. I get up with him, and after he leaves, I have about an hour before the kids wake up. Beautiful, beautiful silence. So that’s when I sit and record a chapter, which usually takes about ten minutes. My hubby has a very nice microphone that I commandeer.

I still had a bit of echo after my first few attempts, so I scoured the internet for workarounds. A lot of people record in their closets, where the hanging clothes muffle the sound. My closet is about eighteen inches deep and filled with junk, so that’s not an option. Then I found a podcasting tips website. This podcast is more like a radio drama. They recommended recording with a duvet draped over you and the mic. I tried it, and my background echo vanished. People are so brilliant.

Over the course of several weeks, I recorded all fourteen chapters of a fanfic. I learned to repeat a phrase if I stuttered or coughed or something, which made clipping it out during editing so much easier. I used an old, free version of Adobe Audition. I had used it years ago, when it was Cool Edit Pro, before Adobe acquired it. I know how to use the program well enough to remove background noise and things like that.

Then I actually listened to my recording. Egads, I thought. I’m BORING. I read like a robot. I enunciate very carefully, and I do the voices decently, but the straight narration! It’s so dull! How do professional audiobook narrators pull it off?

Well, the best ones are all actors, for one thing. You’re giving a performance.

I went ahead and posted my boring performance–it’s just a fanfic and it’s good practice–and now I’m starting on a second one. This time I’m trying to be more expressive and really perform. It’s quite a bit harder than just reading!

I thought I’d put this out there for other authors who are considering narrating their own audiobooks. Practice first! What sounds good as you read it may sound pretty dull when you’re playing it back.