Friendship Camp

Here is a short nonfiction story. This was originally published in Midwestern Gothic, and is an excerpt from my (unpublished) memoir. I thought instead of posting it in the usual written way, I'd post my little narration of it. As always, thanks for reading...and for listening.

Big Giveaway

I have to say that being a narrator is a pretty kick ass job. Sometimes literally. Or at least literally kick-ass in the stories I get to read. Sometimes I’m catching criminals, sometimes I’m falling in love, and I get lucky over and over and over again in various degrees of detail. Oh, how I love my job. Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 6.48.05 AM

June is audiobook month AND it’s also the month where I have a birthday. My birthday is June 30th . This day is important because, in days of old, most coupons expire on June 30th. I don’t know why, but it’s true. AND this June 30th is a big birthday for me. The big FORTY. Which means any time I leave the house wearing tight pants and sequins, people will look at me and think “Huh. There goes a cougar”.

In honor of all that, I’m giving away some of my promo copies for some of the favorite things I’ve narrated. These are MP3 discs so you get the whole book (5-14 hours usually) all on one disc, which you can then put in your computer and transfer to your iPod or phone or whatever.

That’s right. IT’S A GIVEAWAY. All you have to do is comment below. On this blog only. No Facebook or Twitter comments, so we all know it’s fair. Also, when you comment, you type in your email so I’ll have a way to get in contact with you. Your email isn't visible to anyone and I won't share it. After the contest, it all gets deleted. You won’t be put on any mailing list or anything. I’m too lazy for that. If you have a preference for a book or if you like mystery better than romance or vice versa, let me know.

On my birthday, I’ll choose winners of the books.

  1. Last To Die A Rizzoli and Isles novel by Tess Gerritsen. How lucky am I that I took over this series around book 7? I love these women, and the men they work with and love. This series is a mystery and has great depth of character and emotion. Fingers crossed I’ll get to narrate more of these. I’m really proud of my work with them. [soundcloud url="" params="color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]
  2. A Perfect Evil by Alex Kava. I took over this series in the later books, but then recorded some backlist titles. Here we meet the troubled Maggie O’Dell and her partner Tully. Hard-edged murder mystery with dark killers. Again, love love love this series.[soundcloud url="" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]
  3. Married by Monday by Catherine Bybee. Fun romance series, perfect for the summer. Lots of fun characters.[soundcloud url="" params="color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]
  4. Summer Nights by Susan Mallery. A Fool’s Gold romance. I was lucky to get cast with this series from book one and have been able to grow (along with the stories and the characters). Each book stands alone, but together you get a sense of the town. This book has two of my favorite female characters: Annabelle Weiss and Charlie.[soundcloud url="" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]
  5. Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas. Romance but with a hint of magic. Her work reminds me a lot of Alice Hoffman and I LOVE Alice Hoffman.[soundcloud url="" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

Runners up will get copies to one of my own quirky rom-coms.

Good luck and happy listening, and happy me, almost officially a cougar. Prrrrr.

How To Get Into Voice Work

I’ve had a lot of questions lately from friends and even people I don’t know asking about voice-overs. I think I’ve written about this before, but figure it’s worth revisiting. I’ve been doing voice work for fifteen years. (I started in college to make extra money.) I’d always wanted to record things, and I had a college boyfriend who was recording commercials. He took me to Sound Post Studios in Grand Rapids. I wrote and recorded a demo…showing off different kinds of reads. At the time, my voice was pretty green. Basically, I could play a young kid, a depressed teenager, and a college student. After I recorded the demo, I was lucky to get hired.

The first commercial I ever recorded was for a restaurant. I think Finley’s. I totally bombed on the take. I couldn’t do it. I was sweating, nervous, and so bad that the art director said he was very sorry but couldn’t use me. I went home crying. After I got it together, I called the studio and begged for a second chance. I drove back, recorded the commercial, and they used it. And the client kept calling me back.

Fifteen years later, I’m still recording and have moved on to audio books. My voice is different now. Some of it is age, and some of it is developing my lower register. My speaking voice is naturally high, sort of Soprano-like (as in singing, not as in mobster). My recording voice dips into the alto range. I’ve practiced all kinds of reads. Sounding sexy, sounding smart, sounding bored, intelligent, excited, young, old, married with kids, single and looking. And I’ve had to develop accents and try to sound like a man, or at least suggest a man when reading a novel. You’d be surprised what you can suggest with just the tone of voice. And now I do character work with audio books.

But how do you bust into the business? How do you get into audio-books?

I’ll be honest. It’s not easy, especially now. When I started, the Internet was just taking off. Now everything is digital and you can have voices from all over the nation competing for a local coffee commercial.

If you want to get started, you’ll need to do a few things:

1) Practice reading out loud.

Seriously. You’ll need to be good at dry reads. That means you don’t get rehearsals with commercials. You get the copy and you perform. So start by practicing. Read aloud. Anything. Everything. From magazines to books. Try to give the words emotion and feeling. And try not to stumble.

2) Record a demo.

You won’t get work without one. Yes. You can record one on your own, but you’ll get a better product if you record one in a studio. Your demo should highlight your voice. Start with commercial voices, then move on to industrial narration. You can also do a demo of character voices, but these don’t get as much work as a commercial demo. Each demo should be about 1-2 minutes long, with voice samples in 10 second clips.

01 Tanya Eby Narration Voice Demo

3) If you want to do audio books, you’ll need a demo of that.

Pick several different types of books to read: mystery, romance, classic, young adult. Read it well and with emotion. Choose a scene that is mostly dialogue between a man and a woman. Whatever you do, do not read “Harry Potter”! You’ll be instantly compared to Jim Dale and there’s no way you can compete. Seriously. I can’t compete either. Jim Dale’s narration is brilliant.

1 Minute Audio Book Demo

4) Send your demo to local recording studios.

You can also post online at Voice 123 or other audio places. Research audio book distributers and find out how to contact them.

01 Tanya Eby Character Voice Demoe V01

5) Make a wish, but don’t hold your breath.

People think that voice over work is easy. It isn’t. It is fun, but there’s a lot of work behind the scenes. You need to be really bright and in tune with written copy. You need confidence and acting ability. You need to be able to read aloud while your eye skims a little ahead looking for hints to inflection. You need to get good at reading without stumbling.

It’s also physically exhausting. When I read an audio book, I narrate from 8:30 until about 4:30. I have to be perfectly still. Keep your body still for almost eight hours. Control your breathing, your stomach gurgles. Do it for three days or five for a longer book. It’s tough. Your body will hurt.

There’s no magic code for busting into the industry. It takes talent and a good helping of luck. But like any entertainment industry, you can’t bust in without a sample of your work. So start there.

And good luck! Really! If you can get hired, you’ll find the work is fun, creative, and quirky.

Let me know if you have questions. I’ll try to answer them for you here.