Thursday, June 27, 2013

Going Public In Shorts With Narrator Amy Rubinate

Going Public In Shorts With Narrator Amy Rubinate

June is Audiobook month (JIAM 2013). The audiobook community is giving back by teaming with the Going Public Project by offering a serialized audio story collection. All proceeds will go to Reach Out and Read literacy advocacy organization. Throughout June, 1-2 stories will be released each day on the Going Public blog and on author/book blogs. The story will be free (online only – no downloads) for one week. In collaboration with Blackstone Audio, all the stories will be available for download via Downpour. The full compilation will be ready June 30th.

The full schedule of the story release dates and narrators are at Going Public. Engineering and Mastering are provided by Jeffrey Kaferand SpringBrook Audio. Graphic design provided by f power design and published by Blackstone Audio. Project coordination and executive production by Xe Sands.
 Today I am joined by Amy Rubinate reading  “Adventure, bySherwood Anderson”.
Check out her website here
Follow her on Twitter here
Amy's Going Public In Shorts Page Here

Let’s get the routine questions out of the way first…
How did you get started in audiobooks?
I have a degree in Speech Communication with an emphasis in Oral Interpretation of Literature. I competed in “Oral Interp” in speech contests, which was like doing audiobook narration onstage.
Later, as a working voiceover actor and singer, I drove around a lot; it seemed like all of my gigs were at least an hour away. Audiobooks were my constant companion, and they changed everything for me. I was spending at least 15 hours a week on the road, and I’m telling you, it’s impossible to get upset in traffic when Scott Brick or Rosalyn Landor is reading to you! Not only did I get peace of mind from listening, I felt like I’d been given back the time to enjoy stories. I realized that my experience performing literature made narrating a good fit for me, and becoming a narrator began to feel like a calling; I wanted to create that experience for other listeners. I took a class with Pat Fraley and then tied for third place in Scott Brick’s Share the Experience Contest. I credit Pat and Scott for helping set me on this path.

What was your first book?
A Faraway Island, by Annika Thor, for Dan Musselman at Random House. It was a Middle Grade Historical Fiction book, and I just loved it. Dan is so great at casting, and it was a good fit for me. Tony Hudz was my first director, so I knew I was in good hands embarking on this new career. All of my books that first year with Blackstone, Brilliance and Random House were in pro studios with directors, so I was able to get a solid foundation. I’ll always be grateful for that.

The first book narrated by you that I listened to was, My Name is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson your co-narrator was the wonderful Nick Podehl, I found this book fascinating and both narrations wonderful. I see you’ve done a couple dual narrations with Nick and I’ve always wondered, Are you in the same studio? Do you ever even meet?
I’m so glad you liked it! I think Nick is one of the best YA narrators in the business. We record in different towns, but on a multi-narrator book, you generally don’t record at the same time anyway. For My Name is Not Easy, Nick and I talked by phone before recording. The book had multiple first person storylines but leaned towards the male protagonist, so Nick took the lead on most character voices and accents and I worked to match his choices. He referenced mine for the female leads. I liked being able to hear his version of the characters; it helped me to adjust to him. We finally met at the studio a few months ago, and he loaned me his humidifier when I was choking in the dry winter air. Thank you, Nick!

I had fun on your website listening to your demos I highly recommend everyone head over there and have a listen. You have three categories of Voiceover Demos Commercial Demo, Animation Demo, and Character Singing Demo plus your audiobook narrations.
Thank you! I tried to make my website interactive and fun, since a lot of the voice work I do is in animation. I feel like I have three careers: voiceover, narration, and singing. Someday I hope to add “published author” to that list…

Which medium do you enjoy the most?
How can I choose? I love it all! But there’s one category that marries all of my skills together: audiobooks of picture books for kids. Before I became an audiobook narrator, I did a series of interactive picture books for LeapFrog, and I had the best time. I narrated, sang and did character voices for interactive versions of classics like The Cat in the Hat, Click, Clack, Moo, and Where the Wild Things Are. Now I also narrate picture books for the audiobook world, which is like coming full circle.

Which is the most challenging?
Audiobooks, by far. I’m doing my 77th book this week, but it feels like my first. Just when I start to get comfortable, I get a book that stretches me and requires me to develop as a narrator. It’s a worthwhile challenge!

Have you always been a singer?
At 4 years old I watched a children’s opera on Mr. Rogers, and knew that I wanted to be a singer. I lived in the middle of nowhere, but I took every opportunity I could to perform. In my twenties I was a cabaret singer, developing thematic one-woman shows based on the American Songbook and performing in wonderful old venues like The Plush Room and Coconut Grove. In recent years I’ve done more session singing for children’s projects, and my weekly church soloing job, which I love. The music is beautiful, and it’s about the only place you can sing without irony; you just sing your heart out, and you know you’ve gotten it right when the congregation gets out their hankies. Now that I have the bandwidth to put up shows again, I’m starting to get back to my first love, cabaret. I sang with a jazz trio the other night and felt like I had come home.

Are you also an actress?
Absolutely. I think you have to be to do this work. I started out doing stage work, straight plays and musicals. I also toured doing theater in the schools, directing kids and performing for them. I do a lot of video games and character animation work for my voiceover career. I like audiobooks because you get to play every character. It’s the best use of a theater education I can think of!

I have so many books narrated by you on my audiobook wishlist that I may have to dedicate a month just listening to your work, you seem to have a diverse body of work do you have a favorite genre to narrate?
I love that some of my books are on your wish list! YA is what I do the most, and I love it. In the past year, my clients have given me a wide range of work that encompasses literary fiction, romance, noir mystery, and memoir. I enjoy the variety.

Can you give us a scoop on any upcoming books you are especially excited about?
I’ve narrated so many in the past year that I’m crazy about. One that you and I have talked about, Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall, for Dreamscape, is really special. It’s set in the heart of Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement. It’s the story of a young white girl who runs away and ends up traveling with an African American woman as she searches for her mother. It’s so beautifully written, and so heartbreaking in the best possible way, that I think it will change peoples’ lives. It’s one of those books that will leave readers’ hearts open for a long time after they read it, increasing compassion for others and themselves. At least, that’s what it did for me.

Did you get to pick your short story or did Xe assign them? If yes, What made you choose this story?
I discovered Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio when I was in high school. It was the perfect time to experience this book, since I was being pulled in two directions: stay in the comfort and kindness of small town life, or leave to follow a dream and seek adventure. This conflict ran through Anderson’s short stories, and reading them helped me process the changes I was facing. Xe encouraged us to choose our own stories, so I turned to Anderson. While his stories are affecting, he writes with an emotional remove, an almost reportorial style, so I used that as my guide for the narration. It’s different from the more intimate style of the contemporary fiction I usually do.

  Adventure, by Sherwood Anderson (read by Amy Rubinate) by Going Public Project

Thank-you so much for joining me and thanks to Xe Sands for asking me to join in the fun!
Thanks so much for having me on your blog. I’ve always enjoyed your reviews and your perspective on audiobooks. And a big “Brava!” for Xe Sands for developing the Going Public…in Shorts project for June is Audiobook Month. It’s a wonderful celebration of audiobooks

See Yesterday's Post at My Bookish Ways with narrator Vanessa Hart
Tomorrows posts at TheOddiophile and Emily's Reading Room

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore, narrated by, Adenrele Ojo & Pamella D'Pella

The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore, narrated by, Adenrele Ojo & Pamella D'Pella
From Library2Go
Length 12 hrs and 25 mins

 This was an interesting story it had me laughing at times and crying at others. These 3 women, friends since they were teens have gone through a lot, each dealing with their circumstances in their own way, yet knowing that the other women were there for them no matter what. I loved Odette she handled her circumstance gracefully and I loved her ghosts, which included her pot smoking mama and a drunken Mrs. Roosevelt these scenes had me laughing hard. Barbara Jean was a sad case but I loved seeing her grow throughout the book into a much stronger woman than she had been. Clarice has a philandering husband and finally gets up the guts to leave him but the consequences and outcome of that makes for a very interesting story too.

I enjoyed this book I think it’s a good one if you are a fan of southern fiction, or friendship stories. What is shocking is that this book is written by a man because he nailed these friendships and the women’s “voices” which isn’t easy for a male author to do and he does it very well. Also for a first novel this book is very well written I look forward to another book by this author, I think he is a rising star!

This was well narrated by, Adenrele Ojo & Pamella D'Pella but, I am still wondering what the reasoning was in having 2 narrators, these two narrators have very similar voices and I can honestly say I wasn’t sure when they switched back and forth. Don’t get me wrong the narration was good but I think one narrator would have been sufficient. I would probably listen to more from these two narrators though I can’t tell them apart even after finishing this book.

4 Stars

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by Fiona Carnarvon, narrated by, Wanda McCaddon

As a huge fan of Downton Abbey I had to read this book. It wasn’t as interesting as I had hoped until towards the end when we find out that Lord Carnarvon was partners with Howard Carter when he found the tomb of King Tut. The whole story about Egypt was fascinating and how Lord Carnarvon was one of the first to succumb to the “curse” even though the author doesn’t talk about that aspect I’ve read and researched enough about Egyptology that to me that was fascinating. I would read more about this time period in the Carnarvon’s life. It made me do some research and I found photo’s of the two of them together in Egypt and finding the tomb so that was fun!

As for Lady Almina I admit to being very surprised when she married so soon after the lord died as before that she was so devoted to him and she didn’t wait the acceptable mourning period of the time but the author decided to kind of skim over these facts and didn’t really give us a reason for marrying this sickly man so soon after her beloved husband died. And I would have like to know any social repercussions she suffered because she didn’t wait till the mourning period was over. I did enjoy the parts about her turning Highclere into a hospital which because of Downton I could picture well.

Because I am such a huge fan of the TV show there were times when names would come up like Bates, or Crawley , it would throw me a little bit because they weren’t my beloved characters from the show. There was also the time when the Lord got a car and he was speedy around in it and crashed and I thought oh no he’s going to die but he didn’t at that time but all I could think of was Matthew on the TV show!

Wanda McCaddon did a wonderful job at the narration she brought a slight haughtiness that I felt was needed in this setting. I would definitely listen to this narrator again.

I would recommend this to fans of the show because this kind of gives the outline that Julian Fellows may have built Downton on. Just don’t expect the TV show version of things.

3 ½ Stars

I received this from Edelweiss and the publisher Tantor Audio for a fair and honest review.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Asylum by, John Harwood narrated by, Rosalyn Landor

The Asylum by, John Harwood narrated by, Rosalyn Landor
Received from Audiobookjukebox and published by, Blackstone Audio
Length 10.5 hours

This book is gothic fiction at its best! This was the first book I’ve read by Harwood and I will be reading his others. This book grabbed me from the start and kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through.
Poor Georgina wakes up in an asylum with no recollection on how she got there, she is also registered in a name that is not hers. Between the memory loss and her giving a false name the doctor thinks she should stay and get her memory back when things go from bad to worse when the doctor checks around about who she says she is and finds that Georgina is home in London. Is there a vast conspiracy or is Georgina crazy and just making up that she is really Georgina.

I loved how this book plays out , there were even times I wondered about Georgina’s sanity. There is also a story about Georgina’s mother that all eventually ties into what is happening in the present. Oh this is hard I don’t want to spoil this story for anyone because the suspense is done so beautifully the story unfolds gracefully as you try to figure out if Georgina is telling the truth or if she really does belong in the asylum.

The narrator Rosalyn Landor does as always a fantastic job, I love that she does these male voices where it’s almost like someone else is narrating them. If a book has Rosalyn narrating I will always pick the audio over paper.

If you are a fan of gothic stories run, don’t walk to get this book because this is gothic fiction at its best! Just make sure you have time allotted because you will not want to put it down once you have started!

4 ½ stars

I received this book from the Audiobookjukebox and the publisher Blackstone Audio for a fair and honest review.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

JIAM 2013 Interview with Jeff & Susan Dunman from the Audiobook Jukebox

To kick off Audiobook Month I invited Jeff & Susan Dunman from the Audiobook Jukebox to tell us about their great website and the services they offer.

1) How did Audiobook Jukebox come about?

Audiobook Jukebox was created to fill a need caused by the exploding availability and popularity of audiobooks. As bloggers began reviewing more audiobooks, potential listeners sought out those reviews and publishers turned to bloggers as a new audiobook review outlet. But there didn’t seem to be a place online that made it easy to find bloggers’ reviews or get those reviews to a broader audience. Also publishers trying to find new bloggers to review their audiobooks faced a daunting task. To address these problems, Audiobook Jukebox was developed to connect reviewers, listeners, and publishers by indexing links to online reviews to make them easier to find, offering publishers a place to submit titles they’d like reviewed, and inviting reviewers to select titles for review that are of particular interest to them.

2) As you know I request a lot of audiobooks from you. Walk us through the process of getting and posting the audiobooks from your end.

We contact various publishers to let them know about our audiobook review program, called Solid Gold Reviewer. We also welcome publishers who’ve heard of us by word-of-mouth or happened on our site and read about the review program. Publishers decide what titles to offer, how many copies to offer, what format (CD, download, Audible download) and distribution (U.S., U.S. and Canada, International). More detailed information can be found on our guidelines page.

The publisher provided information is entered onto the electronic template we use to upload each title to the site. We also find and size a cover photo for each title. Finally, we post this data for each individual title for review and tag it by publisher and genre. 

3) So a reviewer sees an audiobook they would like to review how do they request it?

They simply fill out a review request form, which can be found on the guidelines page. We only ask what they’d like to request, their basic contact information, and the URL to their blog or Goodreads page. We only use this information to get the review copy to the reviewer. We ask that reviewers follow our general guidelines in writing their review and post their review within 2 months after receiving their copy. We also ask they send us a link to their review so we can index it and add it to the database. 

4) Who can request an audiobook?

Anyone who likes to listen to audiobooks, is willing to review per our guidelines, and has a place to put the review online, such as a blog, Goodreads or LibraryThing account. We try to make it easy and will provide resources to assist new reviewers.

5) Does the publisher decide if a person gets a review copy? Or is it first come first serve?

Generally it is first come first serve for all those who have reviewed through the program. We request the review copy, credit, or code be sent by the publisher to the reviewer.  

6) The Audiobook Jukebox is so much more than getting review copies in the hands of the reviewer; it is also a database of audiobook reviews. I honestly can't remember how I first started posting links or how I found the site, so... Where do all the review links come from? How do you find them or do they find you?

The original purpose of Audiobook Jukebox was to aggregate and index audiobook reviews from bloggers. The Solid Gold Reviewer program came a little later when we saw an opportunity to allow reviewers to pick from a smorgasbord of titles from a variety of publishers. The review links in Audiobook Jukebox come from blogger submissions and from blogs we find. We continue to find new bloggers and bloggers continue to find us. We are always on the lookout for bloggers who review audiobooks. Currently there are over 15000 review links, for 6000 unique titles, from 400 bloggers.

7) The audiobook world seems to have really exploded and finally earned some respect in the mainstream but there has been grumbling about un-trained narrators, Have you seen this, since you deal with so many companies and bloggers? Do you feel this is a narrator problem or a production company problem?

The rapid growth of the industry over the last few years has in our view outstripped the supply of good experienced narrators. It has resulted in a large influx of newbies and wannabes in the business, which has brought problems and opportunities. We have heard some very good work from a number of talented new-to-audiobook voice actors who are taking advantage of this new opportunity.

That said, we have also heard voice work from folks with little more than one-trick pony voices unable (or at least untrained) to effectively voice multiple characters, of various ages, and of both genders. Then add into the mix the need for regional and foreign dialects and accents and proper pronunciation (in character) of foreign words and names. The voicings alone are a major challenge. Appropriate pacing and voice consistency throughout add to that challenge. Doing all of this well and consistently is what separates the true highly talented voice actors from the also-rans.

It seems that there are newbies who want to jump into the business with no knowledge or experience in prepping, in self-directing, with little or no knowledge of home studio basics, with little or no experience in recording, proof listening, editing, and mastering their work. Some seem to think they can just plug an inexpensive USB microphone into their laptop and start reading. The result is a less than quality finished product that doesn’t meet the expectations of today’s audiobook enthusiasts.

It seems like the selection process for casting narrators is all over the map. We’ve heard cases of authors picking the narrators when it wasn’t evident they’d ever listened to a good audiobook. It seems some think straight reads of multi-character fiction are OK.

As for the answer to the last question, both.

8) What is the biggest change you have seen in the world of audiobooks?

Digital downloads.

9) Now I am going to ask you to put on your Karnak the great hat...
What do you see in the future for audiobooks?

Susan - From my perspective as a librarian, I see a bright future for audiobooks, at least those in downloadable format. It seems that what originally drove the popularity of audiobooks in CD format at libraries was the sheer number of CD players in cars and home stereo units. It’s the availability and convenience of the player that drives the format, and now, folks want to download audiobooks to any number of their various digital media devices. There is an increased demand from the public to learn how to download the library’s audiobooks and many libraries regularly schedule workshops to teach their patrons how to download to specific devices. Libraries that do not yet offer audiobook downloads are finding themselves under pressure to offer that service. 

As a blogger, another change I see is increased recognition of the narrator’s performance. This may be due to the fact that the trend in narrating is to “perform” the text, rather than do a straight reading. It takes skill and talent to narrate this way and both reviewers and listeners are recognizing that fact.

Jeff - For the industry to grow substantially, the retail price point has to be below the $10 mark, well below for back catalog titles, to turn audiobooks into impulse purchases, similar to paperbacks.

I expect at some point there will be significant downward pressure on narrator finished hour rates with deals morphing towards a combination of a finished hour rate coupled with a royalty share arrangement, in part to give narrators incentive to promote their work. Pay plus incentive plans are the norm in many industries.

On the positive side for narrators, I see more recognition of their incredible skills. I think they are the stars of Audiobookland.

One final thought. We’d like to thank all of the bloggers, publishers, narrators, authors, and other audiobook enthusiasts who support Audiobook Jukebox. Also, we thank Susie for interviewing us.

Thank-you so much for being a part of the kick-off to Audiobook Month!