Narrator Interview: Moira Todd – Ember Burning , YA Fantasy

Introduction:

Hey all, thanks for joining us this week. I must be on a narrator kick.

Please welcome Moira Todd, the voice behind the new audiobook Ember Burning (Trinity Forest Book 1) (You can find the link below). The story follows a grieving teen as she ventures into a forest teeming with urban legends of witchcraft and disappearances and then once there, she finds she must face the truth behind her parent’s death or lose herself to the forest forever. The second book in the series, Oshun Rising, will be available on Audible in February.

Cool. Let’s meet the lady.

How did you get into audiobooks?

I auditioned for an audiobook production company and they pointed me toward ACX, where I can be my own producer, which is really great.

How many audiobooks have you produced?

I’ve produced 8 titles now, including Playing with Fire: A #Hacker Novel by Sherry Ficklin, and Why Can’t My Life Be a Romance Novel by Melinda R. Cordell. I also have three in various stages of production.

Why did you choose to work on Ember Burning?

I love working on books with female protagonists and I think Ember has a really fun voice.

What was your favorite part of the book?

My favorite is the end when everything really comes to a head and the suspense is at its highest.

What was the hardest part of working on the novel?

The hardest part is actually scheduling. I have to balance audiobooks with acting and teaching. So if I get a cold or something, and can’t record for a few days it can really mess up my production schedule.

What’s involved in the process?

Well, it starts with reading the book. I like to read it once just as an audience and write down my thought on the story as a whole so that I can remember that experience when I’m listening to myself read one sentence over and over. I then read it again an make notes of character descriptions, words I don’t know how to pronounce, and any major tone or pacing shifts in the story.

Me: That’s a lot of reading.

Then I’ll take a chapter or so at a time, and mark it up. This means writing in the best way to make the story clear, like which words to emphasize and when to breath. I take my marked up section into the studio and record it. Any time I mess up, I just go back and read it again. So what I’m left with is a big long recording with lost of repeated sections. I have to use editing software to delete the mess ups, and any big long breathes that sound weird, and make sure the pacing is effective. This then gets given to the author to approve, and eventually put on sale on audible.

How long does it take to create a chapter?

Typically it takes me 10 hours to produce one hour of finished narration.

Me: Oh my goodness.

What is your favorite part of being an audiobook narrator/producer?

My family is pretty spread out, so I love being able to share audiobooks with them, and it’s like were back at home and I’m reading a book to everyone in the living room around the fire.

What’s been the hardest part?

Keeping myself on track to meet deadlines is the hardest part. Because it’s just me, I have to hold myself accountable so that I don’t end up with a week left and half the book to finish.

What’s your favorite audiobook you’ve listen to? Why?
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy narrated by Rob Inglis. I listed to all three on a road trip across the country last year, so it just brings me back to those awesome memories.

What is ahead/next for you?

Are you working on any interesting projects? Do you have anything planned or in the works now? (Other books you might recommend?)

Yeah, I’ve got a few projects in the works. Right now I’m recording Killing Her Softly, a romantic suspense novel by Barb Warner Deane. And in the new year I’ll begin production on the next book in Jennifer Alsever’s Trinity Forrest series Book 2, Oshun Rising.

What do you do when you’re not working on audiobooks?

I’m in rehearsal for a show, or teaching theatre classes, or maybe going on a hike in the Potomac valley.

What do you expect to happen in the audiobook market?

I’m not sure. Podcasts have certainly exploded in recent years. Audiobooks seem like the prefect medium for commuting. People spend so much time in cars or trains or buses these days, why not be listening to a story at the same time.

Conclusion:

Thanks for joining us, Moira. We appreciate you taking the time to chat.

 

Associate links to follow…

Amazon Prime

Free Kindle Reading App

Audible – If you buy some of my audiobooks with your first credits, I’ll pay the first month’s bill (beyond the free ones). (Terms and conditions: must have proof of purchasing my books, like a screenshot. Will also have to have paypal.)

Audiobook Company Comparison: ACX vs Findaway Voices

Publishing through Findaway Voices
Publishing through ACX.

Part 1: Production

Introduction:

Recently, I had the unique opportunity to test the audiobook creation process of two different companies for creating audiobooks: ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) and Findaway Voices. It’s not a true experiment because there are too many variables, but I happened to have two short stories to produce simultaneously.

 

The Contenders:

ACX – Audiobook Creation Exchange

Besides being around a while, it has become the behemoth to beat simply because it’s an Amazon company. By default, that means it’s got major moving power when it wants to. On the flip side, it’s a massive company, therefore some things can fall by the wayside.

Major advantages: They have access to a lot of narrators. You as an author have way more control over the narrator selection process. Pacing’s ultimately up to you and the narrator you choose.

Hint: Try to find somebody who’s reliable and great with communication. It will make a world of difference in the long run.

Major flaw: They’re business practices kind of stink. In short, they’re out for the bottom line, not really you as an artist. To be fair, part of this problem stems from them being so big. Must be difficult to be so popular.

 

Findaway Voices – Draft to Digital Associate

This company’s a relative newcomer to the audiobook creation scene (at least to me).

Note: You can’t use them with Kindle Select titles because those have to be exclusive to Amazon.

Major advantage: They publish to far more platforms than ACX. Their customer service is top-notch, and they walk you through the audiobook process. Your share of the royalties will be much greater than with ACX (80%, I think).

Major flaw: By default, they’re a “middleman.” Everything takes longer when you involve more people.

 

Note: These will cover the Author side because that’s where my experience lies.

 

The ACX Process:

Step 1: Authors decide they want to publish an audiobook. Yay.

Step 2: Authors create an ACX account (basically, sign in with your Amazon.com account) and assert their rights to a title.

Step 3: Choose an excerpt and decide whether you want to do Royalty Share or PFH (pay per finished hour).

Step 4: Wait for auditions. Guess this one can vary a bit, but I’d recommend browsing narrators and sending the top 10 an invite to audition.

Step 5: Choose a narrator and offer them a contract. They accept!

Step 6: Review the audiobook files with the manuscript as the narrator uploads them to ACX. Send the narrator time-stamped corrections and any other directions within reason. Review the revisions!

Step 7: Review the whole audiobook, hit approve, and wait for it to pass quality assurance. Note: this is sound quality assurance not editing for mistakes. This typically takes 2 weeks.

Note: PFH offers attract a LOT more auditions.

Second Note:

Royalty Share is a double-edged sword and rarely outright profitable for the narrator. Essentially, the narrator accepts the responsibility for creating the audiobook and splits the royalties with the author. On the other hand, with ACX’s push for Bounties over royalties, getting a bunch of small RS projects might be profitable.

 

Findaway Voices Production Process:

Step 1: Author decides they want to publish an audiobook. Sweet.

Step 2: The book has to be published through Draft to Digital, as far as I can tell. Easiest in anyway. I’m sure you could go to the company directly, but they’ll probably want it available through D2D because the platforms they intend to publish on are those available through that company.

Step 3: Click on the “Create an Audiobook” button. You may have to search for it by clicking on the “Other Formats” button.

Step 4: Fill out the paperwork for your tax information, cover, book manuscript, and such while you wait. In a few days, they say 1-7, they’ll get back to you with a selection of 7-ish narrators.

Step 5: Browse the narrators by listening to their samples. Choose a few to invite to submit an audition.

Step 6: Wait some more. The rep from Findaway Voices will let you know when they have some auditions for you to compare.

Step 7: Choose a narrator and wait for the first 15 minutes. This is where I’m at right now. It should take another 3-7 days to get this.

Step 8: Review the files and give feedback through their commenting system. Review the updated files. Approve.

 

Which Company is Better for You?

The answer depends entirely on your personality and financial situation.

Some things to consider …

Findaway Voices is only available for PFH. That means, if you have no budget for this process and must go RS, they’re out of the race and ACX is your winner.

If you hire a narrator through ACX, you have to be exclusive to Amazon companies and ones they negotiate special deals with, like iTunes. In terms of choice and freedom, Findaway Voices wins hands-down.

If you’re a control freak, ACX probably edges out the competition here. You have direct access to your narrator every step of the way.

If you’re somebody who likes to be guided and helped along the way, Findaway Voices can fulfill that mentoring role. They’ve got a lot of experience at this.

If you’re really good at selling people Audible subscriptions, ACX will be more profitable.

If you’d like a bigger piece of the pie you made, Findaway Voices is your answer.

ACX provides you with codes to help promote your book. Findaway Voices offers your book in WAY more places.

 

Conclusion:

I’m probably going to continue using both companies. They fulfill different niches. The PFH model means that you have to shell out more money at once, but you can probably find a “cheaper” narrator through Findaway Voices because they will help you keep to people in your price range. I’ll have to see how sales do on multiple platforms vs. Amazon exclusive. Shorter projects will likely end up with Findaway Voices. Jury’s still out on whether longer projects will work that way.

 

New to Draft2Digital? Check it out. (Note: this is a referral link. It will basically tell them I sent you.)

 

Associate links to follow…

Amazon Prime

Free Kindle Reading App

Audible – If you buy some of my audiobooks with your first credits, I’ll pay the first month’s bill (beyond the free ones). (Terms and conditions: must have proof of purchasing my books, like a screenshot. Will also have to have paypal.)

Awesome Audiobooks: 4.5/5 The Pygmy Dragon by Marc Secchia

 

Introduction:

Whenever you pick up a book by Marc Secchia, you can expect epic adventure. He’s created quite a wide world of dragons, shapeshifters, and humans locked in strife.

The Review:

Summary: Pip gets snatched away from her family and put in a zoo. There she befriends Hoonago (sorry about spelling, I heard the audiobook), a giant ape-like creature. After that, she’s rescued/ kidnapped by a dragon and taken to a dragonrider school.

Additional Comments:
– World Building – 5/5 The story’s full of imagination and neat world-building. The story fits within the same world as Aranya, though if asked to compare, I think that book’s better.
– Pip’s kind of a fun character.
– Pacing 3/5 – Parts of this book are unnecessarily long. I heard the audioversion, which made those sections bearable, but I don’t think it really got to the “meat” of the story until quite a few hours in. The time spent describing the zoo could easily have been halved and still given readers a feel for the horrors Pip faced.
– The end didn’t have as much closure as I like, but it’s still a good story.

  • Content warning: Recommended for upper teens and adults. While there’s nothing I’d consider steamy by any stretch, there are a few references to nudity and subtle suggestive comments made by some of the characters.

Conclusion: If you like dragons, Marc’s definitely a writer to check out.

Conclusion:

This is the second story I’ve listened to by this author. The narrator did a decent job, but I didn’t love his voice as I did with the narrator of Aranya. I know it’s a companion book, but it still sort of suffered sequel syndrome of not quite being as good as the first book experienced. That said, it’s still a solid fantasy read.

Associate links to follow…


Amazon Prime

Free Kindle Reading App

Audible

4 More Freebies – Grab Bag – Children’s, Romance, Fantasy

Cover reminds me of old school classics.

Introduction:

We’ve moved from weird to romance. Now, let’s settle on sweet and nostalgic and romantic. Eh, life’s like a box of chocolates and all that.

Children’s Tale

He Whistles for the Cricket by Gwen Walker

I can’t make heads or tails of that title, but the story sounds lovely.

Second Chance at Love

Still Falling by Crystal Walton

Okay, so maybe there’s still a bit of romance here. They do look cute together.

A Wee Bit of Fantasy

The Movement of Crowns by Nadine Keels

The heir to a crown balances duty and love.

YA Action and Adventure

A Measure of Disorder by Alan Tucker

Goblins, fairies, dragons, and middle schoolers … recipe for interesting.

Conclusion:

Besides being free, I admit these have little to do with each other. But grab bags and randomness can be fun too.

 

Yaddah, yaddah, blah, blah – links below are associate ones.


Amazon Prime

Free Kindle Reading App

Audible

4 More Free Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

Starstruck Cover

Introduction:

And we’re back with more fantasy. This time, I’m chucking in the science fiction option too.

YA Paranormal Romance: Starstruck by Brenda Hiatt

Arguably one of the few genres that fit in the “not my thing” category, but they’re popular. Oh, so popular. I do love the cover.

Epic Fantasy: Slumbering by C.S. Johnson

While we’re judging books by their covers … this one looks dark, foreboding, and awesome. Love the angel wings or are they demon wings?

Fantasy not your thing? Try Science Fiction.

Nothing says Scifi like Time travel: Knot in Time by Alan Tucker

This one’s definitely going to have a distinct voice. You get that much from the blurb. Some people love time travel books and some don’t. If you’re in the “do” category, give this a go.

Bonus:

Nyssa Glass and the Crisis Caper by H. L. Burke

Steampunk novelette.

Conclusion:

This collection hits multiple flavors: epic, lighthearted, and romantic. If you’re a reading omnivore, I’d love to hear your thoughts on all three.

(associate links to follow)

Kindle Unlimited

Anybody ever tried this? What do you think of Kindle Unlimited? When I retire in like 60 years, I’m totally signing up.

 

Amazon Prime

Free Kindle Reading App

Audible


Audiobook Reviews: 4/5 Beacon by Chess Desalls

 

Summary:

A girl goes for a coveted apprenticeship and doesn’t know what exactly that entails.

Additional Comments:

– The story has some neat little twists but it also has some questionable points such as why the apprenticeship is so special. I won’t elaborate on those here to avoid ticking off those who hate spoilers.

– What’s so wonderful about the lanterns anyway? (That might have been answered in book one, but I’m new to the series at book two.)

– The blurb pretty much spells out the tale.

– Serah Kettel’s a decent character. She’s not the most spectacular at anything, yet you’ll probably find yourself rooting for her anyway. There’s an innocent quality to her.

– Master Machin’s just sort of the mysterious puppet-master type, respected, yet not really known.

– The cook’s probably the most fleshed out of the side characters. Loved her.

– There are some lovely descriptions in here.

 

Conclusion:

If you’re in the mood for a short fairy tale, go for it.

As Always …

If you want the chance to get the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

If you’re an author (or a narrator) with an audiobook you’d like featured, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge is completely free, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Er, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

Prime Student – definitely that time of year

Kindle Unlimited

Free Kindle Reading App

Audible

5 Fun, Free Clean Reads – Fantasy

Hall of Heroes Cover

Introduction:

Tired of hearing nothing but negativity? Let me share some free books that will take your mind off the “real world” and its problems. And give you new heroes and villains to wrestle with.

First and Second up: Anthologies Hall of Heroes by various Fellowship of Fantasy authors.

This is the second anthology. The first being Fantastic Creatures. Get introduced to a whole slew of new authors. I really wish this could be on audiobook, but that would take like 19 hours.

Fantasy Retelling: Beauty’s Curse by C.S. Johnson

Beauty's Curse (Once Upon a Princess Series)

Love this cover. Retelling’s aren’t usually my thing, but I’ve read some excellent ones. Will have to put this on the “to read” list.

What’s Fantasy without Dragons?

Dragon’s Future by Kandi J. Wyatt

I heard this one on audiobook. All books should be on audio 🙂

How About Fantasy with some Romance?

An Ordinary Knight by H.L. Burke

Conclusion:

Let’s stop there for today. I’ve got a whole bunch of books to add, but I’ve learned that things get lost in the shuffle if too many are mentioned at once. If you’ve read any of these, please chime in with your thoughts. If you want to read any of them, go grab them. These are all permanently free.

If you don’t have a kindle yet, there’s an app here that will let you read on your computer. There’s also one for the iphone/ipad. I do most of my reading on that. (Head’s up. They’re associate links. This really doesn’t affect you in any way, shape, or form, but legally, I think I’m supposed to let you know that I benefit if you partake in the free trials below.)

Kindle Unlimited

Amazon Prime

Free Kindle Reading App

Audible


Fantastic Fall Freebies and Fun Stuff

First up – Paperbacks

Don’t miss this grand opportunity to grab some awesome books. Ebooks are lovely things, but let’s be old fashioned and pick up the real thing. Join over twenty indie authors and enter for your chance at one of 10 prize packs full of swag and paperback books. (Full details available at this site. Also, go there to check out the goods.)

8 Scifi, YA, and Fantasy Books

Official giveaway ended a couple of days ago, but I was told the offers should still be good so grab ’em while they’re hot.

7 Free Romance, Mystery, and Dystopian Books

Oh, look, preview. Technically, this one isn’t running yet, but I twisted some arms and gotcha a sneak peek. Seriously, people, if you can’t find something to love within this oddball (I mean awesome!) collection, dunno what to tell you. Pretty sure 90% of the genres are covered by at least one of these giveaways.

 

The usual litany of Amazon affiliate links.

 

Prime Student – Basically, Prime is awesome but super expensive, so if you’re a student, take advantage of the lovely opportunity to save big.

Kindle Unlimited – Never tried it, but then my personal reading time is severely limited by that the need to work for a living. Why can’t anybody just pay me millions for being cute?

Amazon Prime – Okay, so all those of use who are official adultified, here’s the real deal.

Free Kindle Reading App – Got nothing to lose on this one. Just a way to READ MORE BOOKS.

Audible – And for those of us addicted to stories who don’t have reading time, there’s always Audible.

Awesome Audiobooks: 5/5 The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz

5/5 Definitely Worth Hearing

Summary:

Nick Beasley’s a magical sceptic until he’s struck with something that turns him into a beast. What follows is the misadventure of Nick and Lady Cordelia Beaumont trying to set all these wrongs to right.

Additional Comments:

  • The story hits all the right ridiculous notes. It’s a lighthearted, save-the-world story that pulls off a rather simple plot with style through dashes of wit and fun characters.
  • Nick and Lady Cordelia (sorry if I spelled her name wrong, I heard the audio …) are an interesting pair. There’s potential for them to become a couple in future books, but this one focuses on them being crazy partners of a sort.
  • Crispin’s a decent side kick, or at least I think that’ll be his role in any future works. I like that there’s a good sense of closure but enough of an opening that a sequel would feel natural.
  • The bad guy’s plan doesn’t seem very plausible but he fits the bill for power-hungry storybook villain.
  • The world-building is okay. There’s a section where Lady Cordelia basically explains magic for Nick’s sake but given that he’s spent much of his life actively disbelieving in magic, that sort of makes sense.
  • Nick’s surprisingly cool with being magically morphed into a monster.
  • The narrator’s British accent isn’t exactly Hollywood’s version but it fits the character and the story well. His performance adds a nice layer.

 

Conclusion:

If you’re in the mood for fun fantasy, this book would do.

 

The ebook is only $0.99, but go for the audio version.

It’s so much better as a performance.

As Always …

If you want the chance to get the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

If you’re an author (or a narrator) with an audiobook you’d like featured, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Please, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

Prime Student – Oh, how I wish I was still a student.

Kindle Unlimited – Keep that Kindle Happy. 30 FREE trial

Audiobook Reviews: 4/5 Argentum by Debbie Manber Kupfer

4.0/5 Magic, Mystery, and Destiny

Summary:

Miri Katz, a student at P.A.W.S. has a lot more to deal with than mere classes. Her father’s a semi-immortal psychopath of sorts. That’s enough to give you grays even if you don’t have the ability to turn into a cat.

Additional Comments:

  • Although this story can be read and understood without listening or reading book one, I’d recommend doing this series in order.
  • Tons of cool concepts can be found in here. I like the idea of magic schools, powerful pendants, the quest for immortality, moral questions, and stuff like that.

    Content Warning:

There are also some pretty disturbing elements involving multiple forms of abuse of a minor. The book is categorized as YA. I know teens deal with stuff like this. The tough content is handled reasonably well, but I just don’t like it in fantasy stuff. It makes stories way less kid-friendly, meaning I can’t recommend it to the target audience. (Everything else fits a 13-ish age bracket splendidly, except that.)

  • The narrator performede with heart.
  • Alas, I didn’t like certain characters. I don’t think you’re meant to like the particular character I had in mind, but it’s really annoying to actively hate story characters. (On the flip side, that means they’ve got some depth to them.) This could just be the voice used for the character, it grated on the nerves. Pretty sure that’s exactly what it’s supposed to do …
  • There’s not a great deal of closure. It’s very much a part two of multiple stories. I would have liked a few more threads to be tied up. I’m sure they will be, but that will have to wait for book 3.

Conclusion:

If you’re okay with slightly depressing themes like sexual abuse of a kid and can get past that, then it’s actually a really good book.

As Always …

If you want the chance to get the audiobook for free, please join Audiobook Readers’ Edge.

If you’re an author (or a narrator) with an audiobook you’d like featured, sign up for Audiobook Authors’ Edge.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Julie C. Gilbert

Audiobook Edge and it’s Matchmaker Program are completely free now, but if you wanna donate anyway, go for it 😉

Er, just do it as a friend b/c otherwise, you’re basically just paying paypal.

Prime Student – Oh, how I wish I was still a student.

Kindle Unlimited

Free Kindle Reading App