audiobooks

What I Learned at APAC

I decided to attend the Audio Publishers Association Conference in New York this year…a big ol’ conference where the narrators of the nation descend on New York for awkward networking/socializing and frantic attempts to ‘be heard’. It’s lovely. Here’s what I learned at yesterday’s conference (in no particular order):  

* When in an awkward group photo, assume the friendly gentleman narrator behind you is pressing a water bottle against your backside and not…well. Don’t even finish that thought.

 

*Imagine networking is sorta like old-fashioned courting (i.e. no touching, but weird body language). Remember, if they’re truly interested in you, they’ll let you know. If they turn and walk away when you’re mid-sentence, they’re probably afraid of you.

 

*Your voice is unique. No one does exactly what you do. Your vocalizations of a burp/giggle/muttering of ‘shit’ is truly unique to you. No one can take that away from you. No one would want to.

 

*When meeting a casting director for the first time and they say “Ah! I’ve seen your name everywhere!”…DO NOT respond with “I know! It’s written all over the bathroom walls!” What is funny in your brain is not necessarily funny in the real world.

 

*Have colleagues/friends go with you. When you are mid-panic attack, they’ll step up and introduce you and say how talented you are and you have hundreds of books to your credit. You will step up for them when they are mid-panic attack. You will all love each other because of this.

Me (Tanya Eby), Amy McFadden, and Kate Rudd in scary cab ride. NYC.

 

*If you say “Awww, fuck it!” and stay at a swanky hotel and pay a ridiculous amount of money, when they hail a cab for you, the will STOP TRAFFIC for you and your friends with a whistle and a hand gesture so you can walk across the street to the waiting cab. You will get free drinks at an Italian restaurant served to you by a gentle and diminutive Bruno. You will have a hotel room with a doorbell and soap that makes you smell like a clean, sophisticated man.

 

*Always…ALWAYS say “Awww, fuck it!”

 

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New Audiobooks, New Perspective, Same Desire For Potato Chips

I've been lax with the blog, but for a very good reason. I wish the very good reason was that I was too busy watching Netflix while eating potato chips, but the actual reason is I've been working. Working on writing, on narrating, on producing audiobooks, and working on getting healthy and having a kinder perspective on life in general. The last one included a session with a nutritionist where a dude with Hobbit bare feet welcomed me to the office and then I broke down in tears in the nutritionist's office and moaned "How many rice cakes do I have to eat before I start to lose weight?" But that's another story. For now, here are some of the crazy projects I've been working on and producing. If you need a new listen or you want to get your grandmother an audiobook where two to four cowboys play 'horsey' in a barn...

I can't even finish that last sentence. I just can't. Deeeeep breaths.

Here are some of my projects:

audiobooks_color

1) "Foodies Rush In", narrated by Kate Rudd, written by Tanya Eby. GENRE: Contemporary Romance.

This time I went with a new narrator to see how my words worked when someone else read them. Kate gives heart and warmth to this sweet little love story. Rated PG-13, maybe R if you don't like some swearing. Click on the picture to go to Audible:

Foodies Rush In, audio

2) "Two to Mango", narrated by Tanya Eby, written by Jill Marie Landis. GENRE: Comedic Mystery.

I loved this book. It's book 2 in a series and is a delightful mystery set in Hawaii. Rated PG. The 1st book "Mai Tai One On" is also available. Funny, quirky characters.

Two to Mango Audiobook

3) "Briar's Cowboys: Daly Way Series Book 5", narrated by Tatiana Sokolov, written by Brynn Paulin. GENRE: Erotica.

Tatiana is my evil twin who narrates erotica titles so that I don't give heart attacks to listeners who are expecting, well, less hotness. This one is super hot. Certainly an R rating and one you should listen to in the privacy of your home, or maybe with a partner, or, uh, more. There are cowboys and sultry scenes AND an actual storyline and real characters.

Briar's Cowboys Audiobook

Those are just a few projects I've been working on. Plus, I finished the 1st draft of a new novel that's action packed and mind bending. More on that, and some other stories from my awkward life, to come. Until then, happy listening. Be good to yourself.

On New York, The Audies, And My General Awkwardness

Well, my great New York Adventure has come to a close. I didn’t take my computer this time and obsess over blogging. I figured by going to a conference on audiobooks (APAC) and then the Audie Awards, I’d have plenty enough to obsess about. And I was right! The Audies, at the New York Historical Society

THE CONFERENCE

I was nominated for a shiny award for my narration of “Great on the Job” by Jodi Glickman, a great book that gives you pointers on how to succeed in business…which is funny because I suck at business AND with people. Case in point: at the conference, there were all these narrators, talking to each other in their deep, resonant voices. In my head, I walked over to them and said in a sultry voice “Hey, everyone, I’m Tanya Eby. Let’s be friends.” In reality, I hung out in the corner, with a slightly psychotic smile on my face, thinking, I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. At least I hope I was thinking it, and not muttering it out loud. Sheesh.

Then there was this speed-dating session where I got to meet casting agents from Random House, Simon and Schuster, etc, and I had two minutes to sell myself. Near the end I was getting pretty good at it. Until…well…here’s the dialogue:

ME: I’m really versatile and can narrate fiction, nonfiction, young adult, even erotica.

MAN: Well, there’s not too much Christian erotica out there.

ME: Errr…

MAN: Yeah. We’re a Christian publisher.

ME: Ah. Probably should’ve done more research. (nervous maniacal giggle.)

I’ve read some Amish romances. I liked those. There were, uh, lots of, uh, Snickerdoodles in them. And, like, God.

But besides that, it went pretty well.

Then I went to a party for Tantor where I met people I’ve been recording for. (They have a sale for audiobook month. Check them out HERE.) I had a big ol’ gin&tonic and then stood around awkwardly while narrators and publishers laughed and did secret handshakes and synchronized swimming. Maybe one day, I’ll learn the moves and be IN the circle.

I lasted through one drink and then made my exit home to the hotel to wait for Kealoha to get back from his David Byrne show.

THEN THE AUDIES

Me, looking naturally awkward

On the day of the Audies, I was pretty much a nervous wreck. I found a random Korean lady to do my hair and she was really nice. At least I think she was nice. We didn’t understand each other very well.

I was too nervous to eat, so my dress fit really well. I got all gussied up, and Kealoha gave me his arm (it was still attached to his body, and clad in a groovy smoking jacket) and we were off. Immediately, he got me another drink and I put on my medal and managed to talk not-too-awkwardly to narrators, narrator-hopefuls, publishers, and the waitress who carried teeny tiny madeleines topped with caviar. About two dozen people came up to us to shake Kealoha’s hand (again, attached to his body) and compliment him on his jacket. I felt famous. I mean, I did buy him the jacket for Christmas.

The super-handsome Kealoha, and his swinging jacket.

We joined the Brilliance crew in the theater, and five minutes later, my category was announced, and my mug shot flashed across the screen with the other five men in my category. I didn’t win. But I could finally relax. Being nominated was pretty cool though.

And as I sat back in the theater, watching the Lemony Snicket dude present awards and tell insider audiobook jokes that I actually understood, I sorta felt like when the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes bigger. Or I felt stoned. Whatever. I felt warm and happy and…well…part of something.

I’ve been working really hard to succeed in this business, and I feel like I am, awkwardness and all.

Another day in the city, and a stressful plane ride home where I read “World War Z” (so good!) and now I’m back home with my kiddos, narrating, got new headshots, and a stack of veggies in the fridge I need to cook.

All is well.

Hi, Honey. How Was Your Day?

Using my high-tech recording system (a tiny man who lives in the cupboard and is a certified stenographer) I recorded this conversation with my husband, Kealoha, and our two kids. Here is the transcript. We are eating dinner at this time and I have left out the eating sounds from the transcript: familydinner-1

ME So, tell me a highlight of your day. What about you Moxie?

MOXIE Welllllllll, I had recess and played with Ruby and Viola and we were playing this game and then Ruby didn’t want to so I said I didn’t want to and Viola said she didn’t want to so we played a different game.

ME Nice. How about you Franz?

FRANZ So there are these eggs…

KEALOHA Eggs? What? For breakfast?

FRANZ No, just wait for it. So there’s these eggs and they hatched and I saw them and one of the chicks was all covered with gunk and stuff and there were six eggs that hatched.

KEALOHA Whoa.

ME Okay, Kealoha. You’re up.

KEALOHA Okay. So. At the deli today I asked for half a pound of ham and a half of pound of turkey so she goes to get me the meat and she says “What was that?” and I say “I want a half a pound of ham and a half of pound of turkey” and so she says okay and then gets me the ham. Then she says “Anything else” and I say, getting really heated now, “Yes. I want. A half a pound. Of ham. AND a half a pound. Of turkey.” So she gets the turkey and she says “How much do you want?” and then I…

ME Did you hurt her?

KEALOHA I wanted to.

ME That’s very exciting. Can I tell you about my day?

MOXIE AND FRANZ Okay.

ME So. Okay. I was in my apartment and these assassins were coming to kill me and I had no where to hide so I pulled the stuff out of a bean bag chair and I hid in there all scrunched up…

FRANZ Wait. Wait. Wait! You have an apartment?

ME Yep. And there were assassins coming to kill me. But I hid in that beanbag chair and they didn’t see me. And then, when they left, I jumped out the window, scaled the wall, clinging to it, and then I was lifted up to the roof and it was Choo-Choo!

MOXIE Who is Choo-Choo?

FRANZ Wait a minute! What about Kealoha?

KEALOHA Yeah. What about me?

ME Doesn’t anyone care that there were assassins trying to kill me? All you’re asking about is my apartment and Choo-Choo!

MOXIE Mom. You don’t have an apartment. And I hate Choo-Choo.

FRANZ Is this even real? I mean, what???

ME Kids. I’m a narrator, remember? I’m telling you about my day. That was just the morning. In the afternoon I went all ninja on the assassins.

MOXIE Was Choo-Choo there?

ME Yes.

MOXIE I hate him.

ME That’s okay sweetie. I don’t really like him either. Too much drama. I much prefer Kealoha and his trips to the deli.

What Happens When You Narrate A Story Like Beaches While PMSing

 

I narrated two really fun (and very different) books this week. The first was an emotional story about mothers and daughters and sisters, and the second was an action story about a contaminated quarantined slightly futuristic society.

But let me talk about the first one.

I was PMSing. I know this FOR A FACT because I have an app that warns me when I’m PMSing. I find it helps me when I’m like “Why am I crying all the time?” or “Why did I just eat a bag of potato chips with a chaser of chocolate covered raisins?” or “Why does nobody love me?”. I check my app, and it reassures me that what I’m feeling isn’t necessarily REAL emotion but a surge of hormones.

Anyway. So I was seriously PMSing. SUPER emotional. And I’m narrating this book that’s about a woman who wants to have a baby but can’t. (I at one time really wanted to have a baby!) She has a complicated but loving relationship with her sister. (I do too!) She’s estranged from her father. (Check mark!) Her mother died from cancer when she was twelve. (Okay. My mom is alive and well, but we have a complicated and often exasperating relationship.) The main character is a pastry chef and is always talking about bread. (I’m a foodie who recently gave up bread so I could feel better. NO BREAD! NO SCONES! Jesus, I’m crying already.)

Well. The woman adopts a daughter from China, reconnects with her father, then finds out her SISTER has cancer and that sister DIES. NoooooOOOooo!

I lost it. I just started crying. I mean, tears were just flooding down my cheeks. Here’s what I was thinking: Oh my God. I love my kids so much but what if something happened to me, what if I DIED, then they’d just live with their dad and wouldn’t be able to see Kealoha again and they’d be so mad at me for leaving them and Kealoha would be entirely ALONE….maybe Kealoha and I should have a baby…I’d love a baby…but how on earth could we afford it and he doesn’t want to change diapers and I’m too old for that now anyway and we don’t’ have the space and how could I have two jobs AND a baby…and I need to call my sister…and my mom is making me crazy…and you can WANT to reconnect with an estranged father but he’ll never be your DAD, not the one in your fairytale imagination…and I miss having close girlfriends and it sucks that one of them is moving away…and I just want women I can hang out with and talk to and connect with but I don’t even have time because I’m working ALL THE TIME and when can I stop working two full-time jobs but I don’t want to give up teaching OR narrating…and maybe I should try to reconnect with friends I had in high school….but…back to the novel…okay…oh my god her sister just died and she is staying in the room with her, holding her hand and watching HER LAST BREATH FLOAT AWAY.

 

At this point I was just a basket case. My voice was cracking while reading and had that tight “I am holding back tears” sound to it.

I apologized to the director and the engineered for sobbing. I tried to explain to them that it was like narrating “Beaches”, and that’s just about impossible.

Funny thing was, they were crying too. And they were DUDES.

I really do need more girlfriends. Some bread would be nice too.

Top Ten Books I Read, Narrated Or Listened To in 2011

There are certain things you can count on in connection with the calendar. In July, there will be magazine issues all about grilling. In September, it’s back to school stuff. November and December is all about food…and January is all about losing weight and looking back on the year and making pointless lists. I love pointless lists. Nothing feels so organized and meaningful to me than the Top 10 Movies of 2011, or the Top Ten Books About Girls, or whatever. So I’ve decided to write my own list, and randomly organize whatever stuff I want to. Here’s the first of those lists.

So here’s my

Top 10 List for Books* I Read, Narrated, or Listened to in 2011.

(*The books aren’t all written in 2011; that’s just when I read them.)

 

#10  “Eat Me” by Kenny Shopsin

Kealoha bought this for me for last Christmas. I opened it and was like “Oh. Ok. Thanks.” Then I read it. Couldn’t put it down. It’s about this Kenny character who owned a diner in New York where if he didn’t like the looks of you, he’d refuse to serve you. He’s angry, irritated, and has an enormous menu. The book is his philosophy of cooking. It’s surprisingly down to earth and takes all the snobby foodie BS out of food. Plus there are some great recipes. And he finally taught me that I will never make pancakes better than pancakes from a mix, so I can finally stop trying. What a relief.

 

#9  The Dante Valentine 5-book series by Lilith Saintcrow

I narrated this series at the start of 2011. 5 books right in a row. The books are about a Necromancer and Bounty Hunter set in a futuristic world. There are battles with demons and the Devil, and Dante falls in love with a demon. Talk about complications. The novels were filled with terrific characters, and I got to do some kick ass character voices. (My favorite was a deep and gravelly bounty hunter that pushed my vocal register into the basement.) I also lost my voice during the recording and we had to take a week off.

Strangely, in the book, Dante gets her vocal chords crushed by Satan, so there’s all this talk of her voice being ruined. We plowed through the narration anyway, and used my cracking voice to fit the text.

I was super proud of my performance in these. Sadly, it’s not on iTunes, nor did I ever receive copies of the 5 discs. I’m wondering if they didn’t produce the books after all. And they were never reviewed. It’s a shame. It’s a terrific series.

 

#8 “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

Lot of press on this one, but for good reason. This dystopian YA novel should be considered a classic. It fits right in with “Lord of the Flies” and “Catcher in the Rye”.

 

#7  “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath

I re-read this to consider using it for my Women and Madness in Literature course. It’s still a shocking read. You think you’re reading this nostalgic bit about a girl in the 50s in New York, but then it starts to change. The book makes the reader feel what madness feels like…how it feels utterly normal. It’s devastating and beautiful, and I’m having my class read it.

 

#6  “Matched” by Allie Condie

Another dystopian YA book. I put it above “Hunger Games” simply because this one didn’t get as much hype. It’s about a futuristic society where The Society.

 

#5  “Split Second” by Alex Kava (Maggie O’dell series, backlist)

I love narrating the Maggie O’dell series by Alex Kava. She’s a complex character. You can tell she has heart, but there’s been so much that’s happened to her in her life, that she’s shut herself off from feeling. For some reason, they decided to have me narrate one of the earlier books in the series (I think I took over in book four or five). It was fun to see Maggie when she was a little more green as a detective, and meet her nemesis, and the man who ultimately changed her.

 

#4  “The Silent Girl” by Tess Gerritsen

Loved narrating this. I was tentatively scheduled to narrate this with the instruction that I needed to sound a little tougher. The author thought I was a little too ‘soft’ in “Ice Cold”. So I tried to give the characters more edge. More darkness. My director encouraged me to push the accents and vocal distinctions for the characters. I was nervous, but tried anyway. Audiofile Magazine nominated this as one of the top 10 in mystery and suspense and said “listening to Tanya Eby is like listening to a full cast recording”. That was incredibly satisfying.

 

#3  “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Eagan

I read this one in the summer. I was immediately drawn into a world of pulsing music and characters who are weighted down by time. I still think about this book. It’s a terrific piece of writing.

 

#2  “We Need To Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver

One of my favorite books I’ve ever narrated was by Lionel Shriver called “The Post Birthday World.” It was never reviewed, but I feel like I gave the performance of my life. Or at the very least, the book came at a time in my life when I was on the brink between two worlds. It pushed me to change my life.

I decided if I couldn’t narrate all of her books (which I wish I could) I could at least read them. This book “We Need To Talk About Kevin” is a journey of regret, remorse, and an attempt to understand the very human mind of a monster. It’s compelling. Disturbing. And deeply emotional. To read a book about a kid who kills his classmates sounds awful. Who wants to read that? But Shriver manages to tell a story about being a parent; a story of hope and loss; a story that feels very real and reminds the reader that there is so much in life that we have no control over.

 

#1  “Ready Player One” narrated by Wil Wheaton, written by Ernest Cline

And finally…my top favorite book of 2011… “Ready Player One”. I listened to this and was transfixed. First, the inner geek in me rejoiced that Wil Wheaton (from Star Trek TNG) would narrate it. But the book itself sucked me right in. It’s an epic journey into the futuristic Oasis. A quest for a Holy Grail, imbedded in video game lore. If you liked 80s movies and video games, if there’s anything sci-fi in your little heart, if you like nerds and geeks and outsiders…you’ll love this book. It was entertaining, delightful, suspenseful, and the characters are filled with heart. Wheaton’s performance is also terrific.

 

 

Next list? Hmmm. 80s montages, or geek movies, or food I ate in 2011, or....I dunno. Stay tuned.