Look Ma, I'm Professional Now! (A Little Window into the Evolution of an Amateur)

I'm not sure who reads this.  I'm absolutely terrible at updating the site.  However...

that's slated to change!  

I'm building a new studio!  

And that means more production!  

How, you might ask?  

Well, let me give you a window into my process...

Once upon a 2013 blue moon, I was introduced to the magical realm of audiobook narrating by a friend.  She guided me to ACX which allows amateurs to audition for audiobook contracts.  I don't know if you've noticed a massive flood of audiobooks on Audible through the last few years, but it's most likely largely because of this site!

So i tried my hands at a couple.  Nothing did too well.  Then I did my first book for TJ, Tell Me It's Real and things took off a bit.  Since then, I've done a small handful of books (compared to other narrators who started the same way).  That's largely because I've been working out of makeshift studios the whole time.  And overnight to boot (for the sake of keeping noise down.  ugh.)

My first project was done in a house that had no windows where I was staying with a friend and helping him renovate it from scratch.  That project was a lot of fun, but the book was horrible, as it was my first and I really had no idea what i'm doing (you won't find it.  It was done under a pseudonym! Mwah ha ha!).  You can actually hear birds chirping in the background for some chapters.  Also there were 111 characters.  And it was insane.  That book was insane, from premise to writing to cheesy machismo (NO I'M STILL NOT TELLING)

After I realized that was such a drag for the listener, i started amending the studio.  I put together a little makeshift studio for less than $100 a la this site's example.  I had a Blue Snowball and all.  Tell Me It's Real was actually done with this set-up and while lo-fi, it definitely wasn't absolutely terrible quality (all things considered).  

A few books down the line, I got myself a good compressor mic, an MBox and started using ProTools instead of Garageband and Audacity.  That program made things come together quite well.  ProTools was user-friendly, but mired in all sorts of regulation and definitely had some aspects too it that made it a challenge to work with.  The quality was definitely getting better, but some of the quirks of learning had yet to be done.  

An issue with outfitting my closet as a studio (half sound-foam, half-winter clothes) is that it is the inside of a beast in the Summer.  Maybe you've noticed that I only record in the Winter.  (Well, you probably wouldn't because release dates don't really coincide with the recording schedule.)  Or that I record only at night (this would take a real sleuth to figure out.  But perhaps some of the crazier voices I do you could attribute to an insomnia-hour menace that will take over anyone's 3am soul) But now, things are moving and I need to do recording all year, and all day round.  

I've been a carpenter for a number of years.  I love the work and I do that at the same time as doing audio work.  I'm slowly transforming into a solidly V.O. actor, but it's hard (I don't really like working alone nor working in front of a computer all the live-long day.  ho hum).  Still, the books are phenomenal and there's such fun opportunity to be had...

So....I've been building a box in my basement.  It's very pretty (for a basement box) and will allow me to record year round (and during the day!  I usually record overnight which puts a bit of a strain when I'm splitting my schedule between being a nightowl and an early bird!) 

All this to say, if you so care...I will be doing much more audio work in the future.  I'm greatly looking forward to it.  And for you, dear fan, who reads this sparsely updated blog....I am looking forward to you enjoying my new works as well.  

I will post pictures next blog post.  I'm pretty excited about my weird little basement station.  I don't know what to name it...Any suggestions?

Well, it's been a while (and the pangs of a new DAW)

I figured I'd be updating this pretty regularly.  That has proven to be a lie.  

Fans might note that I haven't done much voiceover work this year.  I've been managing a couple careers and it's been tough to fit everything all together(I do carpentry and woodworking in addition to being an audiobook narrator).  Also, a lightning storm in August destroyed my computer.  It wasn't surge protected.  For some idiotic reason, I figured that the electric box would be and it wasn't.  It didn't help that when I got a new computer, I got a new Mac OS as well.  My old version of ProTools wouldn't work with the new OS, for no reason other than they wanted me to buy a new version.  Capitalism can be a drag sometimes.  

I decided to hold a bit of a grudge on ProTools forcing me to buy new software when the old software worked just fine.  So now I've gone the way of Reaper.  It seems comparable, at least interface-wise.  But there are so many options, it's pretty overwhelming.  I'm trying to customize the DAW so that I can bring an even better quality to future audiobooks and voiceover work.  I'm getting myself acclimated to the comfortable spot I came to know with ProTools by this time last year.  I was really getting the hang of it.  Oh well.  C'est la vie.  

My intention is to keep updated more this year, to do much more voice work and to really go above and beyond what is standard in the industry.  I was really impressed with the positive reception of certain things I tried with The Lightning Struck Heart (accents, SFX) and I'd like to do more of that.  I think you'll definitely see that with TJ's sequels in the coming months.  

For now, it's back to an endless slew of Reaper tutorials as I try to figure out how to make this extremely multi-faceted program perfect and just for me. :D

Rediscovering "Tell Me It's Real"

I usually don't go and revisit audiobooks that I've done.  After the final stages of QC and corrections, I treat each book like a message in a bottle and throw it out to the Audible sea.  Any time I've done a series, producing the books has been concurrent so there's no real visitation.  

I finished recording Tell Me It's Real in June of 2014, now more than a year and a half later, I am revisiting the characters which made up my first real success an audiobook narrator.  A few things really strike me:

One of the things I really like about TJ is that he can make a small amount of time last impossibly long, because the neuroses of his narrating character nitpicks every detail in finely-exaggerated flair.  I'm struck by how effective he can compile all of the things that race through Paul's mind into a stream of ridiculous, manic impulses.  Rather than doing 10 minutes in one page, TJ has the uncanny ability to make 1 minute last ten pages.  He bedazzles a scene with detail, which is why his characters are so rich.  They are observing so much!

Listening to me has been a force of extreme ambivalence.  I am guessing it's biological to have the nails-on-a-chalkboard approach to your own voice.  I've become used to hearing me, but 11 books later I feel like my ability to narrate a story has greatly evolved.  I've always had an emphasis on building character voices, but storytelling is something done with nuance.  I'm very excited to add (what I feel) much, much more feeling to the narration of The Queen and the Homo Jock King.  

Settling into this story now, I'm becoming that much more reminded of Paul's beautifully, manically-minded self whose insanity is so comfortably uncomfortable.  I love this character because he actually does the things that in passing, you would only take a second to contemplate then leave be (e.g. googling the minimum sentence for voluntary homicide in Arizona; says the exact joke he was attempting not to say).  You live vicariously through any narrator, and cringing along with Paul's actions brings him so close to my heart.  I'm grinding my teeth in between laughing out loud, embarrassing myself in front of people (I understand the reviews now).

I remember very well feeling these characters.  I remember being in the scene where Helena embarrasses Paul in the drag bar and seeing the stage viscerally.  That helps a lot in narration.  The more I can actually be there, see the characters, hear their voices; the more, I think, that reflects a true identity in the narration.   

I'll be posting more as the book comes along.  I'm very excited to be pursuing this story, which I have reminded myself I have a very tender memory thereof.  I hope you all can fall as much in love with Sandy's story as you did Paul's.