Wednesday, October 28, 2015

For Your Ears Only

For a long time before I published my books last year, part of my description for being a successful author was to have multi-media presentations of my books. Various editions--large print, hardback, mass media paperback, that kind of thing.

But one thing that was always included was audiobooks.

Photo from
It probably hearkens back to my teenage years where instead of Hanson and Brittany Spears, I was obsessed with old-time radio shows. Comedies for sure: Jack Benny. Abbott & Costello. The Great Gildersleeve (yes, I'm in my 30s, and I know all these names better than I know Kim Kardashian.) But the dramas also held a great deal of interest, and just how they told stories. The Green Hornet. Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.  Gunsmoke.

So when I got older and had a mindless job that didn't require full use of my brain, and before podcasting was easily available, I listened to audiobooks. I don't know how many over the five years I worked one particular job I listened to, but probably well into the hundreds. I met some of my favorite authors that way, like J.D. Robb, Janet Evanovich, and Kathy Reichs. And I was able to push through lengthy classics like The Lord of the Rings trilogy (which I have no patience for such mighty tombs in all real practicality.)

In my mind, success = having an audiobook.

Thankfully, in the last fifteen years, things have changed with the advent of self-publishing. Though I'm not a true self-published author, I'm pretty darn close, and I have complete control over what happens with my book. So after I finished publishing my box set this spring, I turned my attention towards audiobooks. ACX, which is an arm of Amazon, was perfect for this hybrid author.

The process is relatively simple: as long as you have rights to your book, you can put it up and have narrators and producers (sometimes the same person, sometimes not) put up bids and samples. It took some time, and I only had one narrator jump on my proposal, but fortunately for me, I liked her audition. Didn't hurt matters that she reminded me of one of the narrators I'd listened to multiple times many years ago!

We ironed out the details together, and by the end of September, I had a first chapter to listen to! I can't express how elated I was. My husband and children had to put up with multiple squeals of delight. Sure, there were things that had to be changed (pronunciations, character voices, etc.) But it was my book I was listening to.

And, it. Was. Awesome!

As I write this, about five chapters (of about 45-50) are done. About two hours of an estimated 16 (though I'm thinking it could be longer.) I'm having a blast working with my narrator, Sarah Rogers, who's pretty new to the game. I'm even making some adjustments to a couple of my characters based on her reading.

Of course, it's not all fun and games. There's a lot of work going into this--on both Sarah's and my parts. After she gets done with a chapter, I have to listen to it and approve it, or make suggestions for corrections, and listen to the changes to make sure they're right. With being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to two, plus a dog and husband, sometimes this goes well, and sometimes it doesn't, especially since it's best (for me at least) to get a chunk of time without interruptions to listen to it. Thirty minutes uninterrupted doesn't happen very often!

So far, with most of the first book in my box set done, I'm enjoying the process and eagerly anticipating the next few months as Sarah and I work through the remainder of the stories.

But mostly, I can't wait to share it with my readers!

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Mardan's Mark: a Review

Kathrese McKee wrote a doozy of a YA epic adventure, full of action, danger, and daring.
In Mardan's Mark, Srilani, oldest daughter of the king and trained in all kingly ways, and her sisters and brother, heir to the throne, are captured by the enemy who carry them away by sea. Aboard the ship, they meet Aldan, a slave since youth, and his "brothers," also slaves on board. A hurricane shipwrecks the boat when they are far from home.
When the heroes reach land, they find themselves on enemy shore. Secrets are revealed and lives changed on the perilous journey home.
Kathrese juggled several characters and did an excellent job of it. Each one has a unique personality and--unless they're the bad guys--are highly sympathetic. This was a terrific read, and certainly shouldn't be limited to young adult readers.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2015


History never looks like history when you are living through it. ~ John W. Gardner

I’m always on the lookout for great quotes to put on my Facebook page where I post daily inspirations to encourage my readers.  While scrolling through quotations, I ran across the above quote by Mr. Gardner and it caused me to stop and think. What history had I lived through? Of course the first thing that came to my mind was the September 11th attack on our country. But I had never thought of it in the category of Historical. Even years later, it still felt current to me. Not so for my grandchildren. They will read about the 9/11 attacks in school textbooks. They will see pictures, learn facts, read figures, but there is one thing they will not get from textbooks, my perspective. They won’t know how it changed me and made me a better person thus inspiring them to be a better people. They won’t know these things unless I write from my historical perspective.

While pondering Gardner’s quote, I thought back to the morning of September 11, 2001, when my phone rang and my brother-in-law asking, “Do you have your television on?”
“No. I’m on my way out the door.”
“Turn it on to the news.”
His voice, so grave and assertive, stopped me in my tracks. Even though I would be late for an important meeting, I did as he said.

The image of a burning world trade tower appeared on the screen. I sat on my coffee table, leaned forward and listened to the agitated newscasters reporting about a jet flying into the building. Then, in what I thought was a replay, I saw a jet heading for the tower. Confused, I wondered how they could replay the jet flying into the tower but still show the tower burning? When I realized this was a second jet hitting the second tower my breath caught in my throat and I held it.  An ominous foreboding shadowed the room. My Pollyanna existence in the United States of America had come to an end.  

Most of us have a vivid memory of where we were that day, our thoughts, and how it affected us. To write about these things bring a very human element to this historical event and will connect with future generations of readers. However, we must not stop there. The most important thing we can write is what we learned from this, how it changed us, and what positive life-lesson we can share.

Weeks after the attack happened I read about some of the people whose offices were in the towers and were late for work that day. They told of how frustrated they were trying to get to the office. Some were late because of dawdling children, others because of inconsiderate drivers. One man was angry with his wife because she insisted he drop off the kids at daycare. But it was these inconveniences that saved their lives. Now, when I’m inconvenienced, I try to be patient and go with the flow. Who knows?

Another thing I wondered about. What were the last words between those who died and their loved ones? Face it, no one expected a jet to fly into their office. Some victims had a few precious seconds  to call their loved ones. Their last words were not, “I’m right and you are wrong.” No, they were assurances of love and appreciation. Since the time of the attacks, I’ve made it a practice to assure love and appreciation, even if I’m disgruntled.

Over time, I’ve also thought of more positive historical events. Some of us saw the birth of the Internet, cell phones the size of our palms, downloading music. Once when my friend spoke about her favorite record when she was a teen, her little daughter asked, “What’s a record?” Yikes!

I’ve written about my experiences for generations of future granddarlings.  Hopefully the lessons, observations, and epiphanies I’ve had will resonate with them when they read my living history.

In my next blog on November 9th I will continue this theme of writing our history, only this time it will be about how our seemingly uninteresting daily lives will be treasured by future generations and interesting ways to record them.

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Oral History

Andy Wilkinson - Artist in Residence Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library - Texas Tech University
I had the privilege to participate in an Oral History workshop in February conducted by Andy Wilkinson, Artist in Residence - Texas Tech University - Special Collections Library. I thought I'd share my notes about collecting oral history stories.

  • Record the interview, but take notes of what you might have a question about so you can go back to it. Try to use a digital recorder with stereo microphones and a data card. 
  • Make sure the controls stay in normal range
  • Ask if they already have previous recordings (made for or by others/family members) and try to get an agreement to have them digitized.
  • Record everything in migratable formats. 
  • Download and store in several formats.
  • A small digital recorder is more comfortable for the interviewer.
  • WAV file is archival format. 
  • Make sure your digital recorder records in WAV. 
  • Video when possible. 
  • The smaller the video equipment the better. 
  • Video and audio recording  is a two person job. 
  • Take photos!
  • Never erase, but offer to start over. "Just re-say it the way you want to say it."
  • Offer "Anytime you want to pause, we will pause."
  • Always get a release - but maybe not at the beginning of the interview if possible.
  • Make 2 copies and give one to the subject.
  • These interviews are not immune to subpoena. A good reason not to include your notes.
  • Have easy access, know where to find it.
  • Setting: conduct the interview in a comfortable environment - not a restaurant or a place where there is too much noise.
  • Interview around a topic or just let the person talk. The interviewee may also give a referral, someone with a different topic or perspective.
  • Group interview - not recommended although they are good for sparking memories.
  • Interview husbands and wives separately and together. 
  • Try and break every 2 hours.
This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to accompany Andy on six oral history interviews in conjunction with Fort Stockton's Fort Days. I was fascinated by how Andy put the subjects at ease. His knowledge of history facilitated the questioning process, and helped him make a connection with them. We had some great conversations about the process, about writing, and about research. I've asked Andy to guest post here soon with some interesting avenues of research.

Oral history interviews are something every family and community should consider.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Fear Is Louder Than Words, by Linda S. Glaz: A Book Review

Love mystery? How about tension? Romance? Great characters? Maybe a plot with enough twists and turns to put a Grand Prix racetrack to shame, all the while crammed with gut-wrenching suspense? And last, but certainly not least, a few tears?

Well, as Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber of Veggie Tales fame always say, "Have we got a show for you!" (And if you don't watch Veggie Tales, you don't know what you're missing.) But back to business. Fear Is Louder Than Words, Linda S. Glaz's latest novel, is scheduled for release on December 1, 2015, just in time for Christmas giving, scaring your favorite person witless, or for no particular reason at all. Just be warned: you won't want to put it down until you've turned the last page.

Ed McGrath, one of Detroit's premier hockey players (and most sought-after bachelor) has lived life in the fast lane--and not just on the ice. His days and nights are spent partying with a different woman every week, giving and receiving bone-crushing, bloody blows during games, and dodging reporters and photographers. When he hears a woman in distress in a parking garage, he goes to her defense, and finds Rochelle Cassidy, a well-known radio personality in the area, bloodied and bruised by a man Ed manages to scare off. From that moment on, neither Ed nor Rochelle are quite the same. Ed struggles with his immediate attraction to Rochelle and desire to protect her. How did that happen? Could he change, and did he even want to change? Rochelle faces a frightening future with a city council member breathing down her neck as a result of damning evidence against him brought to light on her Rochelle's radio show, coupled with continued taunting by her violent stalker who relishes telling her he plans to return someday and finish what Ed McGrath interrupted.

Both Ed and Rochelle carry the scars of their past, and neither one has an easy time coming to grips with the turn their lives have taken. As if a stalker and conniving politician aren't enough to rattle her, Rochelle's decision to showcase the PhD Center for Neonatal and Toddler Development on her radio show further complicates things. Meanwhile Ed feels a gaping hole in his life. Rochelle is a Christian, but he doesn't know how he feels about God--or how God feels about him. Suddenly, life has become not only dangerous, but complicated for both of them.

Glaz's descriptions of the frigid Michigan winters with icy streets, stinging snow, and biting winds are spot-on. I spent the first few decades of my life in mid-Michigan not far from Detroit (a.k.a. the Motor City and Hockey Town), and believe me, she nailed it. I actually shivered during some of her scenes. Her characters are well-rounded and believable--some likable, others detestable--but none are throwaways. The plot is intricately-designed with backstory expertly woven throughout so as not to jar the reader. Glaz handles each aspect of the novel--plot, setting, dialogue, characterization,  tension, and romance--expertly. And finally, there's no need to worry about undue violence, bad language, or gratuitous sex. This author knows how to convey whatever she needs to by using her talent, considerable skills, and respecting her readers with clean language. That's a nice thing in today's marketplace.

I highly recommend Fear Is Louder than Words. You won't be sorry.

Linda, married with three grown children and three grandchildren, is a complete triple-A personality. How else would she find time to write as well as be an agent for Hartline Literary Agency? She loves any and every thing about the written word and loves when families pass stories along through the generations as her mother did with her. She was blessed to have served in the Air Force at a time when it wasn't politically correct thing for a woman to do. After teaching soccer nationally and women's self-defense whenever the need arose, now her greatest thrill is matching clients with publishing houses and hearing their voices when they get "THE CALL". She's an AWSA speaker and presents classes nationwide. She connects with authors through seminars, blogs, and anywhere a group congregates and talks books. She's always looking for fresh voices in fiction, especially in historic romance and suspense.

How about a free copy of Fear Is Louder Than Words from Lighthouse of the Carolinas publishing company? Linda will pre-order a copy and give it away to the lucky winner. Anyone who leaves a comment is entered into the drawing, so be sure to leave a comment and your email address so we can contact you if you win!

Blurb: Fear Is Louder Than Words

Rochelle Cassidy has the perfect life as a radio talk show host in the Detroit market, but her celebrity status doesn't stop an angry listener from wanting her ... dead. Ed McGrath's ideal life as a pro-hockey player doesn't include a damsel in distress until the night he discovers Rochelle being attacked in a deserted parking structure.

Circumstances throw them together in more ways than one when Rochelle's producer plays matchmaker. A sick boy, a corrupt politician, and questionable medical practices put more than merely Rochelle in danger, and still, her attacker shadows her every step.

Will Ed be able to break through her trust issues in order to protect her, or will she continue to see him as Detroit's bad boy athlete? Her life AND his depend on it.

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