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Tag Archives: Audio Books

On the ides of March, 2013, the three stories in the Midnight Scandals anthology with Yours Truly and authors Courtney Milan and Sherry Thomas will be available for individual sales.
Here is a the cover for One Starlit Night:

Cover of one Starlit Night

One Starlight Night

The amazing and talented Courtney Milan did the cover. The covers for the other two stories are similarly lovely (and work extremely well in the digital space.)

In other news, I am pulling together the information and resources for doing some audio books, starting with Lord Ruin.

For those of you who listen to audio books, any likes, dislikes, and/or secret wishes in re the same?

First, allow me to apologize for missing two Wednesdays in a row. Crazy times at RWA, but I warned you-all and expected I might not be able to post that week. But last week? I didn’t go back to work until that Wednesday, and I just totally forget. Tuesday felt like Monday, you see…

So, about Audio Books. I’ll have to get you there the long way because I’m going to tell you my story.

There are a few things you need to know first:

1. In the olden days, I was given several audio books on DVD, and I listened to them in the car and I enjoyed that. But I always lose the DVD and … too many steps. Too many things to lose so I didn’t pick up the habit. Besides I don’t take very many long car drives. I’m also really the only person in the house who could listen to the DVDs because everyone else is deaf or hearing-impaired, except my son, and part of my strategy for not having STUFF is the ability to give stuff to someone else.

2. I live where there is sucky internet so by and large, in the medium olden days, it wasn’t possible to download an Audio book unless I wait to start the download very late at night, so again, never got into the habit.

Time passes and authors everywhere are doing well with audio books because of Amazon making it easy for customers to get them. Also: 4G for the iPhone and iPad which is a LOT faster than the internet in the house. On the iPad, I can watch YouTube videos like the one below (which blew my mind for reasons I will shortly disclose) without waiting for buffering every 30 seconds.

The video below, which is the funny, smart, and talented Kevin Gisi telling us How to Be An Insomniac blew my mind because apparently, as I learned from this, you can listen to audio books and set a timer to turn it off. I had no idea.

Normally, if I can’t sleep, I plot in my head so I often find insomnia useful until I have to go to work on way not enough sleep. From time to time, though, I experience plotting-proof insomnia. No fun. But the audio book thing. MY GOD!!!  I realize this is blindingly obvious, but it just wasn’t in my world.

Right. So I’m working on getting an audio book for Lord Ruin. This is a wonderful thing at the moment because mostly it involves no work on my part. A good friend of mine’s daughter is an actress, mostly Shakespeare, and she’s narrating the book for me. And while I was at RWA, she and her producer sent me the first chapter to listen to. And it was awesome. They sent chapter two a few days ago and that was awesome, too. There I was lying in bed listening via the iPad and now I want complete audio books to listen to.

A few months ago, the company that did the original audio book for A Darker Crimson contacted the series authors about re-upping– he wanted all the authors’ books so we had to make a group decision. After some dithering around we said sure and my agent took care of all the contract stuff and a couple of months ago, the company sent me a copy of the audio book. On 11 CDs. My reaction then was oh god. more STUFF but now I’m thinking, WOOT! I can rip the CD’s and get it to the iPad!

The Poll

Do you Listen to Audio Books?

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Now I’m curious. What do you think of audio books? If you don’t listen to them, why not? If you do, what got you listening?

Judith Ivory’s Black Silk is one of my all time favorite historicals. At the time I read Black Silk, Ivory’s books were not available in eBooks. There were terrible, horrible, cheap POD versions — with newsprint quality paper and ink that was smeared… I returned the copy that arrived with a crooked cover and located a used mass market paperback.

Ivory’s books are now available as eBooks, as  I came to learn on Twitter. I immediately purchased everything (including the Judy Cuevas books) and I added the audio book to a couple of them. Set that aside for a moment, while I gush about Ivory …

I LOVED LOVED LOVED The Proposition even with the cheesy ending. I’m in the middle of The Beast right now (in audio) and well. Judith Ivory. Her writing is lovely, and she does what I miss so much in historicals and that I strive to do in my own writing, which is tell as story as if the HEA is not a given. My personal description of this goes like this: A Romance written as if it were not a Romance.

Aside: I said this once on a loop and got a tremendous, even vicious, push back. Not that any of the disagreement came close to changing my mind. I still believe that a Romance that is written as if it’s not a Romance will have far, far more tension.

Also, especially now that I’m not traditionally publishing, I really don’t care about the prevailing beliefs about what sells. A lot of those beliefs are wrong. Sure, it’s crucial to know what’s happening in the market, but even so, I get to decide what I write, and I get to write exactly the way I want, entirely in line with the stories I want to tell.

Because, and, yes, another aside, when I am gone from this world, I want to have written the stories that speak to me, without compromise in the way I’ve told them. (This is NOT the same thing as not listening to editorial advice. Editorial advice is crucial.) If that means I sell fewer copies, I am at peace with that.

When This Is A Romance permeates every aspect of the story, there’s a very real risk of the book being too familiar. Tired, even. The Insta-Love trope is a predominant approach these days. I don’t necessarily mind it. There are lots of such stories that are great books, too. But there’s an awful lot that don’t distinguish themselves.

Yes, this is another aside.

Too often I feel I’m getting a Romance where sexual attraction is the container of the story … such that it is present from the start. Even stories where the hero and heroine, ostensibly, do not like each other, they are powerfully attracted underneath. Again, I’m not saying this should never be done. I’m just saying, it’s now really really common. Plus, well, I guess I also think there are lots of authors who aren’t challenging this. You have to be really, really good to make such a story extraordinary.

This leads to stories where something else delays bringing together the sexual and the commitment to the person they love. Often, this ends up being “I’m not worthy.” A flavor, if you will, of “I’m in your ass, saving your life.” Again, it’s possible to pull this off, but you have to be good. Really good. (P.S. I read that book and liked it better than SBTB. But that review started a meme/trope/Romance inside joke.)

Anyway, one of the things Ivory does so well is to give us characters who, despite any attraction, have lives that allow us to see exactly how they might walk away from this potential relationship. And that possibility is credible. Even when you know it’s a Romance and there will be an HEA.

Right. OK, so when I was on my Ivory spree, I clicked Add the Audio Narration because I’ve been listening to some audio books, and I am finding a place in my commute and certain other moments where an audio book fits quite nicely. I just finished listening to a Romantic Suspense audio book (not an ACX DIY book) by a favorite author, and I loathed the narrator from the start.

Loathed. The. Narrator.

She read the book as if she felt contempt for the work she was reading. The male voices were phony and contrived and because she was trying (and failing) to roughen and deepen her voice for the male characters, they were all the same. That production wasn’t as bad as the production for A Darker Crimson (my first paranormal, audio rights not mine at the time) which was just horrific, I’m sad to say. Terrible narrator. Terrible production values.

I started listening to the audio book for Ivory’s The Beast, and the narrator is wonderful. She never sounds strained or phony, and I’m just so struck by how very, very good this reading is.

So. Here are my questions to you. Do you listen to audio books? What are your thoughts, pet peeves, loves, hates about them? Have you read Ivory?



Lady Dearing's Masquerade by Elena GreeneNow that I’m finally close to having a version of the balloonist story (title coming soon, I promise!) to send to my critique partners, I’m looking into yet another project. I’m considering doing an audio book version of Lady Dearing’s Masquerade.

I have a good friend who swears by audio books, since she spends a lot of time on the road. On the other hand, I have never listened to one. I’ve just never had the need. But the popularity of audio books is growing, so I’m working on getting educated.

I’ve listened to a number of samples from romance audio books, just to get an idea of how narration works. Since there’s usually just a single narrator, he or she has to do the dialogue for all the characters: hero, heroine, and everyone else, developing distinct voices for each. It seems quite the challenge.

Some authors choose to narrate their own books, but I know I’m not up to it! I can’t even do a British accent, which is one thing I know I want.

Another choice is whether it’s best in romance to have a female or male narrator.

This issue was discussed pretty thoroughly at the All About Romance blog post Speaking of Audio: Male versus Female Narrators. The question was, if one had to choose, would one “prefer to listen to an effeminate sounding hero or a drag queen heroine”?

As it turns out, with a good narrator, one can avoid either extreme.

Though I’m sure these actor/narrators are out of my reach, here are two examples I really liked:

The first is a sample from Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale, narrated by Nicholas Boulton. Please listen. You will enjoy it!

As an example of a talented female narrator, here’s a sample from Lady Sophia’s Lover by Lisa Kleypas, narrated by Susan Duerden.

Do you listen to audio books? For romance, do you prefer a male or female narrator? Or does it really depend more on how the narrator handles each character?


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