It's quite odd to let someone else wander around in your head, stepping into your daydreams and those countless little "what if" plot threads that pop up in the middle of the night, disturbing an already not peaceful slumber. But, that's exactly what I allow others to do when I publish my little romance novels.
It opens your thoughts and opinions up to for debate and pondering. For every nice review we receive as authors, there's always that negative one that sticks in your craw and drowns out every other voice. You have to develop an "Oh well" thought process or you'll never want to write anything. Ever. Again.
My first published novel, "The King's Treasure" (previously published as "The Sun King") has been the subject of much bashing. Like a first born, it was brought into the world by someone who really didn't know a damn thing about parenting. It's been a bumpy, learning endeavor for the both of us, with tons of growing pains along the way.
Look - I'm not a historian. I didn't study French history. I don't write Historical Fication. I write Historical Romance. I was inspired by a tale and others' interpretations and fashioned a romance out of it. A romance that I thoroughly enjoyed writing, that has some super steamy, sexy scenes in it (if I do say so myself). I used some historical timelines and events but it in no way was meant to be construed as fact. Come on, as "romantical" as one may wish 17th century France and the court of Louis XIV was, let's be real - nobles smelled ripe and used corners of palaces for toilets. 21st century hygiene norms were not in vogue or even possible. Lucky for us, we can still imagine them that way as we flip the pages or tap the screen of our favorite historical romance novel.
As a romance author, I'm finding it difficult to fit into a specific genre and what's expected from the readers that enjoy them. Some of my stories have a lot more heat to them than others and I think that's based on what the story merits. I'm working on another installment in my Romance Reigns series at the moment. More than halfway into it and there hasn't even been a kiss between the hero and heroine yet. Hell, I'm wondering when the heck they are going to finally lock lips myself.
And that's one of the things I love about writing. I can have a slip of an outline for a story and then my Hero zigs when I thought he would have zagged... because it fits the character.
So, why have I babbled for this long? If you've read The King's Treasure and want to know what my inspiration and research pulled up on Louis XIV, read away. If you never plan to read The King's Treasure and don't mind being spoiled, read on, too...
Please don’t read this until you’ve read the story as there are spoilers below.
I have loved swashbuckling tales since I was little. I read Alexandre Dumas’ The Man in the Iron Mask (after watching a film based on the book) almost two decades ago and became even more intrigued with the reign of Louis XIV. And, then, my romance daydreaming took over: heaving bosoms under desperately tight corsets, possessive men with lust in their eyes – you’ve gotten the idea since you made it to the end of the book and are reading this right now.
Since my story is obviously one of fiction, below are items where I chose to roam from historical fact:
Blue Collar Heroes - Rough. Rugged. Hard Working. Skilled. Sexy. What's not to love? Find your next book boyfriend here.
Book 2 in my Romance Reigns series, Marissa: Chosen By A King, has been narrated by the very talented Virginia Ferguson. Read my interview with Virginia below. Listen to a sample and grab your copy on Audible here: bit.ly/marissarr
How did you get involved in audiobook narration?
All my life I have loved reading. My father was a publisher and my mother an avid reader/teacher. My sisters and I all worked in some capacity for publishing companies when we were young. Fast forward decades as an English teacher and actress, and an acting teacher of mine suggested getting involved with ACX, a company that basically puts narrators in touch with authors who want their books read aloud. I knew nothing about the technology but had taken several classes in voice acting for years but was always too busy to get stuck into it and learn the technology. Finally, a few years ago, I sat down with a friend who basically said this was not rocket science and we could do it. We did. I auditioned for my first book, got the job and kept on going from there, becoming more and more technically and artistically improved each time hopefully.
What previous experience do you bring to audiobook performance that you feel enhances your narration style?
The most valuable experience for a narrator of novels is acting experience. Since you have to believably read dialogue, you need to become the characters. The voices are the most challenging part of the job, especially if there are lots of characters. In addition, since my father is English and I've lived in England for long periods, I have what some people call an English accent. In any case, I can do a believable (but not perfect) English accent which many of the Regency Romances and other romances require. Acting in English plays helped, too.
I was so excited to listen to your audition for “Marissa: Chosen By A King” and felt you were a perfect fit for the period and genre. What drew you to audition for it initially?
When I saw Marissa: Chosen By A King, the first thing that drew me to it was the cover art of a beautiful woman and handsome man! I could see it was a romance by the title and picture. Ah, my specialty I said. Then, looking at the audition script which is crucially important in deciding whether to audition for a book or not, I could see that the author had a fluent style and depicted scenes and characters well and engagingly. These characters were likeable. Clearly, the period would be interesting historically, too. The author sounded legit and her background interesting.
What is involved in the recording of an audiobook? Can you explain your process?
Once I get a job, and I try to work continuously, I might ask the author to send me specific information about characters. However, if the novel is well written, an audio reader can pick this up from the manuscript. I try to read as much as I can of the book to prepare and might list the characters on paper and try out voices once I know who they are. I write down little notes to myself like "arrogant, high squeak" or "Think Cary Grant". When I start putting down a chapter, I might even record phrases in a character's dialogue and keep that track on hand so I remember how they spoke if they pop up in ten chapters down the line (which you would know if you can read the entire book first which I do try to do). Basically, I do one chapter at a time and edit it twice. The first time is to edit out mistakes and noise, sometimes re-recording a sentence or two that doesn't sound right or that is framed by a motorbike noise outside the window which I try to block out.
The second time is with the script for accuracy of the author's words. I can pick up one or two misreadings of mine this way. I'm always surprised by mistakes I make!! Then the chapter track is uploaded to ACX for the author to listen to for any further corrections. Editing is not exciting but essential. I usually treat myself to reading two chapters a day which takes about an hour or so, and the rest of the time I am editing. For every one hour of error free recording, an audio narrator puts in at least three hours of work if not more. The goal for all audio narrators is to reduce the editing time.
Are there any lessons learned during your recording of “Marissa: Chosen By A King” that you plan to apply to future projects?
The main lesson from Marissa is to find authors as easy to work with as Sandra! There are lots of lessons I've learned from past books (such as the two edits and recording voices so I can remember them). I believe I am pleased with the outcome of this engaging story and hope that listeners will be pleased, too.
Do you have a “Holy Grail” novel you’d love to narrate/perform?
As for novels I'd love to perform, I had my eye on Sweet Caress by William Boyd and sent him some samples. I never heard back which is not surprising given his publisher no doubt hires top English actors from the stage and screen, plus studio time. But the authors on the ACX site are often just as good and authors can now capitalize on audio rights that belong to them for the time being. Plenty of fantastic voice artists are vying for jobs on ACX as competition is intense.
What’s next on your list?
My present project is interesting - Locket, a novel set during World War II with several interweaving personal stories involving the field hospitals on the front lines and those who work there, the horrific camps run by the Nazis, but also the music and romance of the period where life and death were separated only by luck. I'm up to Chapter 5!
Best of luck with marvelous Marissa and I hope to work with Sandra again someday.
20 FREE or .99 books PLUS a $25 amazon egift card Rafflecopter
Right in time for the holidays! An awesome group of authors - myself included - have come together to bring you over 20 “free” or “.99” books to fill up your reading tablet this Christmas season! Download all these great titles and you will have a book a day to read until the New Year! With a cheerful collection of contemporary, historical, spicy, erotica, and more, you can take a break after your Christmas shopping and escape into a great read. Happy Holidays!
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Interview With A Narrator
I dipped in the self-publishing pool with a short historical romance, "Jacqueline: Coveted By A King." It's the first in my Romance Reigns series, focusing on fictional ladies in the French court of Louis XIV.
After working on the preparation of the eBook format I decided to try a turn at audiobooks. Research brought me to ACX. The fact that a newbie author could work one-on-one with a narrator/producer felt like the perfect "first time" experience.
I was lucky enough to receive an audition from a talented narrator, Megann Becker. The process has been a very enjoyable one due to Megann's work ethic and her entertaining performance. She met deadlines in a timely and professional manner and I absolutely love the way she brought my words to life.
To coincide with the release of "Jacqueline" as an audiobook, Megann was nice enough to answer a few questions.
How did you get involved in audiobook narration?
As my great grandmother got older she listened to a lot of audiobooks. I thought they did a great job of bringing stories to life— and they brought her so much joy. I’d always been an avid reader and I could clearly hear the characters voices as I read. Audiobook narration seemed like a logical jump! I’m glad I went for it because it is such a fun way to express my creative side.
What previous experience do you bring to the process that you feel enhances your narration style?
When I was studying Spanish, my goal was for people to think I was actually of Hispanic decent. I wanted to play the part and be convincing. My college professor once thought I was a plant— put there by the department to see if she was teaching the class well, ha! She told me this after she was so impressed with a presentation I had memorized and performed. I loved getting in character for that project and the same is true for narrating— you have to have fun, let loose and enjoy the role you’re playing.
I was so excited to listen to your audition for “Jacqueline” and felt you were a perfect fit almost immediately! What drew you to audition for it?
I was drawn to audition for “Jacqueline” because I would need to use a French accent and at the time I was just starting to learn French. I thought— “what a great, new challenge”. When I read the audition excerpt I loved the writing and felt I could convincingly tell the story. As I recorded the story it was such a fun escape to be in Jacqueline’s world.
What is involved in the recording of an audiobook? Can you explain your process?
Communication with the author is the most important part. You are bringing their baby to life— and it is important to me that it sounds the way they imagined it would. I first read through the script, nail down voices, and do an initial narration. Then it is time to edit for quality and then edit for timing, tone, the right speed. When the author is pleased with the final product I do one last listen and then it’s time for that baby to go out into the world!
Are there any lessons learned during your recording of “Jacqueline” that you plan to apply to future projects?
I definitely tweaked my work flow throughout the project. I found the times of day where I liked to get into character and record. There were other times where I felt in the mood to edit and I capitalized on that. I was really passionate throughout this whole project and I hope that shines through!
Do you have a “Holy Grail” novel you’d love to narrate/perform?
Hmmm great question— it really got me thinking. I love Isabel Allende’s novels. “Zorro” or “Island Beneath the Sea" for example. They are period pieces with magical realism, there’s romance, there’s always strong women and there’s Spanglish. I think it would be fun to play a role that uses my language skills and my attitude in that way. (There’s a lot of similarities between that and the “Jacqueline” performance.)
What’s next on your list?
I’m currently working on an audiobook, called “The Fault In Our Pants”, for an old Saturday Night Live writer. It is a parody on the book and movie “The Fault In Our Stars”. It’s hilarious, edgy and requires a totally different voice and persona. It’s fun to stretch my boundaries and try something outside what I know. I believe that’s how you continue to grow as an artist!
Fall Into a Great Kindle Giveaway!
Welcome to the Romance Your Autumn Nights Kindle Giveaway!
GRAND PRIZE – Kindle eReader + $25 Amazon gift card
1st PRIZE – $50 Amazon gift card (2 winners)
2nd PRIZE – $25 Amazon gift card (2 winners)
3rd PRIZE – $10 Amazon gift card (2 winners)
4th PRIZE – $5 Amazon gift card (2 winners)
5th Various swag items (5 winners – US only)
Click on the image above (or this link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/080aaeb410/) to enter the giveaway.
Join the Facebook Party on October 27th for more chances to win: https://www.facebook.com/events/314701298907182/
Enter my giveaway for a chance to win one digital book of your choosing from below:
The Sun King (Erotic Historical Romance)
Jacqueline: Coveted By A King (Short Historical Romance)
A Building Passion, DIY 1 (Contemporary Romance)
* Go to my contact page
* Fill out required info
* In the Comment section, type "Romance My Autumn" and the name of one of the above books you'd like a chance to win.
* Don't forget to click Submit!
On November 30th, ten (10) winners will be randomly chosen and sent an Instafreebie link/instructions to claim a digital copy of their chosen book.
Good luck and Happy Romancing!
With A Building Passion ready to release in a week, I thought I'd write a bit about my inspiration for the novel. For those who know me personally, there are some obvious inspirations that can be dealt with at a later posting. But the one main inspiration is my husband, Ted.
Ted: the name does not in and of itself get the heart pitter-pattering does it? My husband and I have actually latched onto a theory when it comes to this name and how it is perceived. The next time you hear the name Ted in a movie or television show, take heed. I can tell you with my ESP that the guy will - 99% of the time - either be a terrible boss, an idiot, or just an all around not that likable of a character (sometimes an amalgam of all of the above). Don't know why, it just always seems to be the case. (If you are a Breaking Bad fan, I reference the episode titled IFT. That is all that needs to be said, I think.)
And now that I've told you that, let me tell you about the exception to the name rule: my wonderful husband. I tease him to death, but I'm allowed since I also love him to death. We started out acquaintances through a mutual friend, eventually started hanging out within a group of friends and about three years after that started dating. In fact, as I type this, I am realizing that we met for the first time ten years ago today - on the Fourth of July. Yes, corny: there were fireworks the day we met. ;-P
We've had a lot thrown at us - he was diagnosed with MS a few years back which really turned our lives upside down. But, through it all, we've hung in there for each other. I've learned to appreciate and be thankful for the little things. A good night's sleep cuddled up to him is one.
My husband is huge into DIY. When I was trying to think of a story line for a book, I realized the inspiration was staring me in the face. Tons of projects starting, in stasis, and being completed all over the house.
I had tried to start a blog a couple years back, but then real life got in the way as it tends to do. (Damn you, chronic illness!) Anyway, I thought I'd share one of the posts I wrote about our DIY project below. Hope it inspires you.
I'll try to write about some other sources of inspiration for A Building Passion soon. Thanks for reading.
Reasons I Write...
Why does someone choose to sit down in front of a computer and type away about fictional characters? I can't speak for everyone, but I have some reasons to share.
Control: The fact I have so little of it in my life, there's satisfaction in crafting characters and a plot. Of course, the one thing I'm noticing the more that I write is my characters tend to have a mind of their own.
Effect: Getting a response back from someone who enjoyed your book, almost as much as you enjoyed writing it? That feeling can't really be put into words. Of course, you take the risk of someone absolutely hating your work and letting you know it just as easily. I feel that the positive vibes overpower the negative, once the initial sting of one who disliked your writing fades.
Legacy: I also like the idea that maybe one day, hundreds of years from now, someone will read one of my stories.
Romance: I have a loving husband, let me state that right off the bat. And, our courtship had many a romantic moment. But, again, real life (household chores, appointments, errands, a growing workload, and the exhaustion that follows) kind of puts a damper on that aspect of wedded bliss after a while. Each person's romantic ideal looks and acts differently depending on preferences. The one characteristic that holds true - in the end, they live and breathe for the person they love. <sigh> Yes, it's probably more fantasy than romance.
Therapeutic: Certain issues I encounter in my daily life seem to find a resolution or new perspective through writing. You always start with writing about what you feel or personal experiences. I've found avenues of peaceful understanding through some of the stories I've written. Kind of like writing a letter to someone you never intend on giving them.
Just a few reasons I write. If you are a fellow author, would love to hear some of your reasons.
Until next time...
The Best Way To Promote...
Short and sweet tonight. As I'm navigating the promotional arena of likes and retweets and posts, I am reminding myself of the advice I have come across time and time again...
The best type of promotion is your next novel. So, that's what I've been diligently working on the past few months. I hope to have it finished by mid-March (fingers crossed) if my "real" job doesn't bury me in paperwork.
I've also read that writing a series of books is also the best way to gain a following. Romance novels are their own animal entirely. Since the majority of romance readers require a happily every after, it's more about writing stories around a theme or a brand. I think I've got one - hopefully a good one. Time will tell.
I've also been itching to write some prequel-type/different POV stuff around The Sun King, in particular the two main heroes. The Sun King has a lot of factors that didn't fit the romance mold (written in 1st person and told entirely from the heroine's POV) so I may experiment with some shorter stories that expand on the other characters. And, ideas about the other ladies in King Louis's court have begun to pop up in my head. Plus, who wouldn't enjoy reading a tale about a musketeer?
And so, I write. :-)
The Day After My Release... Going OCD with Sales Rankings and Dealing with Piracy.
My book was released yesterday! Yay me! What have I been doing in between all of the other "real-life" duties and responsibilities that wait for no one - not even a newly published author? When I wasn’t taking care of my day job to-do list, running errands with the hubby, appointments, etc., I was checking my Amazon sales rank. (They have a cool little chart for authors that lets you see your book rise – and fall – on an hourly basis; yeah, probably not great for someone who thinks she has obsessive tendencies.)
Oh, and, I found out my book got pirated!
Yep, it happened about 6 hours into the day that my book went on sale. How did I find out? Through a dear friend of mine who has been a cheerleader for my book’s release. She mentioned that she had done a search online for my book and saw that it was listed on a whole bunch of sites for sale. She was super excited for me! This didn’t immediately set off alarm bells, as I knew my publisher was putting my book on various sites. But, my interest piqued, I did my own search later in the day. There I am on Amazon – sweet! All Romance eBooks – alright! Barnes and Noble – awesome! Wait, what’s this one?