narrating

A Funny Thing Happened When I …E X P A N D E D

I’ve had a few hard weeks of narrating pretty much around the clock. This is due to the publishing push for Christmas books and a few books that had late manuscripts. This has meant I’ve been waking up at 3 or 4 AM, recording in my little booth, taking the kids to school, driving an hour to a studio and recording there, picking the kids up, doing mom stuff like cooking and homework and bedtimes, recording an hour when the kids are tucked in, and then waking up at 3 or 4 AM to start all over again. Plus, the same schedule on the weekends, because…weekends don’t exist when you freelance. But in all this craziness, I’m also trying to carve some time to take care of myself. You know, walk, and breathe, poop, get a pedicure, say hi to my husband. Important stuff. (Especially the pooping.)

The schedule is lightening and today, I met with a yoga instructor to go over postures and everything I’ve forgotten. As she gave me instructions to warm up “Move you right elbow under your left”, it took me a moment to get my body to respond. I have spent so much time being perfectly still and NOT moving, that there was an actual delay in every move she asked me to make. My brain knew what it wanted to do, but my body just couldn’t respond right away.

I felt sort like the Tin Man before his, uhm, lube job. Is that the right term? That can’t be the right term.

 

6819213_std

 

Take two: I felt like the Tin Man before Dorothy greased him all up and got him ready to perform.

Ahem.

I felt rusty.

I folded over, I swayed like a rag doll, I slowly remembered what side of my body was LEFT and what side was RIGHT. I tried to make myself breathe audibly instead of silently. (It’s hard to unlearn breathing quietly, and something I try to do when narrating.)

Then…well…she asked me to expand. Not in those words. She told me to stand and spread my legs out as far as they would go, then reach my arms out as far as they would go…and really R E A C H. Then I was to look up and breathe. Audibly. I did all of this. I stretched, I reached, I looked up, I breathed a breath of a goat…and then…I started to cry. Little tears. Maybe she didn’t notice, but inside I was shivering.

 

Enjoying the sun

 

I have spent so much time trying to take up as little space as possible. In my booth, I try not to move, I sit quietly, I give myself over to the words in front of me (words that don’t belong to me).

But it’s not just in the booth. It’s…my LIFE. How, in life, I try not to take up too much space. I obsess over my increasing weight (hello, 41!), I try to be pleasant and quiet and meek. I try to smile and agree and not-rock-the-boat too much. I kvetch to my husband but in general, I try to be small.

What a revelation it was to open my body wide, to take up as much space as possible, to breathe annoyingly loud, to suck in all the oxygen I wanted to and expel all the crap from my lungs.

What happened today when I expanded?

I started to feel again.

And it was such a relief.

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!”

 

##

I Promised I Wouldn't Whine...

Wait. What? WHAT? I went almost a whole month without a blog? What is going on here? What kind of insanity is this? Is this another dimension? Is this another dimension where people wear shiny unitards and talk into their watches? No. All is well. All is very steady and well and slightly boring. I also made a promise to myself to stop whining so much and, uh, you can see the effect of that on the blog…or lack thereof. I mean, I THOUGHT of plenty of topics. I wanted to whine about trying to lose weight and seeing a dietician, and the new yoga classes I’m taking, and trying to cook healthy foods like quinoa and hating it…but in all those blogs, I just sound sorta douchey.

Then I wanted to blog about being rejected for the seventy-sixth time for my memoir and be all “What? My childhood isn’t painful or interesting enough for you?” and “Why are all the agents mutherfuckers!” and “Why won’t someone just give me a CHANCE?” But that just made me want to punch myself in the face.

Then I thought of blogging about everyday issues with the kids, and why bread makes me feel bloaty, and the trouble I’m having with this new book I wrote. It’s great. I love it. But it’s only 20,000 words and if I want to be published ‘for real’, like a ‘real’ girl and not Pinocchio (aka self-publishing), then I need to add 60,000 words to it. And. I. Don’t. Want. To.

See, though? See? Even my blog about not whining has turned into a massive whine of the old SNL skit Pat variety!

IT'S PAT

In short, I’ve lost the focus or point of this blog. I don’t like pushing my fiction because I feel like a bully when I do it. And I don’t like writing too much about narrating, because I don’t want to get in trouble for saying too much or not enough. And I don’t want to whine. And I don’t want to be a dink. And I just want everyone to get along and be happy.

So. Ehm. Maybe it’s time to revamp my Dip Blog. Maybe I should put all my angst into THAT. MMmmm. Angst Dip. Good with gluten-free crackers.

If you have any input here, let me know. Why do you read this blog? Do you like train-wreck Tanya, or slightly-mal-adjusted-Tanya, or bloated-Tanya the best?

I’m trying to figure everything out. It’s making me tired. But I’m not WHINING. I’m really not. That high-pitched sound is just a mother fucking LEAF BLOWER.

Ahem.

I mean, amen.

The Truth About Narrating Erotica

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 5.48.15 AM I’ve been lucky to narrate all sorts of things in my career, and I thought I’d pull back the curtain on what it’s like to narrate erotica.

I drink a scotch, put on a bustier and tiny silk panties, pull on my garters and stockings and then I…

Are you kidding? I’m wearing a stained t-shirt, yoga pants, and no makeup! I do this because it’s A) comfortable and B) the characters are so attractive that I don’t feel like I have to be.

At the first sex scene, I think “Oh, okay. That’s hot. Wow. Sure. Okay.”

At the second scene, I think, “Wow. They have a lot of energy. And appetite. I don’t have an appetite like that. Maybe I need to take a pill or something. Okay. Here we go…”

By the third, I think, “Don’t these people have jobs? Don’t they have stuff to do? Who’s buying groceries? How can she bend over like that without taking an Advil?”

By the fourth, I think, “Oh come on! You’re being teenagers! Do something productive like watch Newsroom and eat popcorn with your man-hunk. That’s what I’d do!”

Actually, now that I think about it, this is pretty much my thought process for narrating in general. I love storytelling in all its forms; I really do. But every once in a while, I am exhausted by characters’ boundless energy and superhuman abilities. Or...this is a possibility...maybe I’m a little bit jealous.

WTF I've Been Up To

I promised myself I would try to stop posting whiny woe-is-me blogs. In fact, I did post one last week, but then I pulled it. I forget sometimes that my blog shouldn’t be a dumping ground. No one wants to hear me sit in a corner and complain…unless I’m complaining while drinking a bottle of wine, then even I admit I can be humorous. It’s all the drooling that makes it funny. So here’s what’s happening and why my blog might be a little more sporadic for a while:

1) I had a tooth emergency and some ‘oral surgery’. It sucked. But the plus side is I got a whole day off to watch TV. I mean, that’s all I did. I sprawled on the couch (upright, cuz I couldn’t lie down) and moaned and groaned and watched True Blood, Orange Is The New Black, Nigella Lawson, MasterChef, and Newsroom. All. Day. Long. It was so glorious that angels sang! (Or it was taking me a while to come down from the laughing gas at the dentist.)

Me. Recovering.

2) I had an excerpt from my memoir accepted for publication. I need exclamation marks for that. Here: !!!!! The excerpt called “The Friendship Camp” will be published in the fall literary journal of Midwestern Gothic. I was so excited when I found out that I whooped and then I said ow and then I whooped again. And then I said ow. It was a vicious cycle for a bit.

3) I’ve joined a writer’s group. Two, actually. One online and one I’ll meet with in person every week. The groups are forcing me to work on my next novel and I’m 15 pages in. Not much, but it’s a start.

4) I’ve been gluten free for two weeks. It’s not as annoying as I thought. I’m now addicted to polenta, which is okay, because I can only eat soft food. And my food-belly seems to be a little smaller.

5) I’m ready to send the kids back to school. I’ve become the ultimate lazy parent, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. I mean, there’s only so many crafts, outings, and ‘adventures’ a parent can realistically have before saying “Aw, fuck it!” Now when the kids ask if they can do experiments with the toaster and a fork I say, “Sure” and then “Call me if anyone’s bleeding” and then I go back to playing BananaKing on my iPad. School better start soon or the kiddos will be building a homemade methlab to earn money for Legos.

6) For the last two days, I’ve been talking like I’m wearing those cheap, plastic vampire fangs. This morning, I did a recording, and I sounded just fine. My mouth is good. My voice is good. And my jaw only hurts when I open really wide, so I have stopped opening my jaw really wide. (There’s a joke in there about Kealoha, but I will not stoop to that. It’s simply TMI.)

plasticfangs

7) All is well.

So, look for my blog periodically. I’ll try to post only important stuff like, you know, things about chafing and when we go to Applebee’s and my upcoming trip with Kealoha to a tiki bar in Chicago. You know, stuff that matters.

But if you really, really miss me, check out one of my books that you haven’t read, or force your friends to read one. And stay tuned. We’ll be releasing some free stories soon, and “Foodies Rush In” will be released as an audiobook in October narrated by the fabulous, Audie-award-winning Kate Rudd.

Happy, happy, me.

(I mean that sincerely. The laughing gas has totally worn off now.)

Mermen!

Kealoha and I stayed in Grand Haven last night. I’m narrating all week long and I thought it would be nice to A) Not have to drive for two hours (round trip) and B) Stay at a hotel. Instead of a 50-minute drive home, I had a ten minute drive to the hotel and Kealoha met me at our room. I’d envisioned a conversation with the desk clerk. Here’s what happened in my brain:

ME: I’m here for the night. Last minute idea.

CLERK: But you don’t have any luggage!

ME (nervously): That’s because, ehm, my, er, husband is coming and he’ll bring the luggage. Yeah. My husband. That’s right.

(In my head I sounded suspicious even to myself.)

CLERK: Oh. Okay. I got you. Your ‘husband’. (wink wink wink)

ME: No! Really! My husband is meeting me at this hotel! With my luggage! I’m not that kind of woman to have a tawdry affair. I’m only tawdry with my husband!

 

I guess I like drama. Or at least I like envisioning drama. The real conversation went like this:

ME: I’m here for the night. Last minute idea.

CLERK: Credit card, please.

Then Kealoha and I had average burgers in the restaurant and then used the whirpool where my swimsuit immediately filled with air and farted along to the beat of the bubbles in the water. I was afraid that my boobs looked so big that random hungry babies would run after me crying for milk and my soul, but no babies chased me. We saw one baby, but he was more interested in chewing on his fist than my enormous tatas.

I fell asleep at 9, while Kealoha giggled to “Hot Tub Time Machine”. In the morning, we had breakfast and then walked along the pier. It was all foggy and moody and slight creepy. Then out of the darkness we saw something truly horrifying! A sump truck pumping sewage! The smell hit me in the face like an old-timey boxer. Rat bastard. And I noticed that the guy doing the pumping (ahem. Sump-pumping) did this WHILE SMOKING A CIGARETTE. Again, my brain took over as I imagined gigantic green fireballs and me screaming to Kealoha RUNNNNN!!!!

We didn’t run. We turned around and crossed the street.

Then we made our way back down to the water and SPLOOSH!

Merman fish tail I saw a merman! A MERMAN! That fucker was huge, jumping out of the water like Greg Louganis in reverse. At least I think it was a Merman. I sorta only saw it out of the corner of my eye.

ME: Jeez! Did you see that Merman?

KEALOHA: (sigh)

ME: Maybe it was a fish.

KEALOHA: Yes. That was a fish.

SPLOOSH! Another ‘fish’ took a leap and splash.

ME: Nature is freaky.

Kealoha held my hand to calm me down and then drove me back to the car. Then I was back in the studio and falling in love and doing naughty things in a cabin, and then winning second place in a holiday window competition.

Just another day of narrating and life in general.

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.

Tanya's Week Off

Kealoha here. Seriously. Tanya needs this week off. She's got narration, voice-overs, teaching, writing, editing.....  You get the idea.

So I told her not to stress about blogging. In fact, I've changed her password, so not only can't she blog, but she'll need to resort to leaving comments if she has anything to say!

I'm not taking all of her social media away. She still has Facebook and Twitter. And Pinterest, which I've still avoided.

Plus, this blog needs a few more references to tikis!

Limited Edition Tiki Bowl

That, dear readers, is not a Mai Tai.

In today's cocktail culture, the only safe place to have a Mai Tai is in a Tiki bar. And those are few and far between. (I would suggest searching Critiki to find the closest bar to your location, and make sure you thank them for keeping the spirit alive!)

If you can't make it to a Tiki Bar, here's an easy to follow recipe:

Trader Vic's Mai Tai

1 oz fresh lime juice ½ oz orange Curacao  (ORANGE! NOT BLUE!!!) ¼ oz orgeat syrup  (Orgeat is an almond syrup. Usually found with coffee syrups) ¼ oz rock candy syrup  (I've been substituting Agave Syrup, and it works great) 1 oz aged Jamaican rum (I would highly suggest Appleton Estate) 1 oz aged Martinique rum (Myers Dark rum is perfect) Shake well with plenty of crushed ice. Pour unstrained into a double old-fashioned glass. Sink your spent lime shell into drink. Garnish with a mint sprig. Original drink by Trader Vic, 1944. Adapted from Jeff Berry & Annene Kaye, Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log. (San Jose: SLG Publishing, 1998) p. 50

OK class, get shaking!

Aloha & Mahalo!

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.

Backstage look at narrating! A video blog!

Thanks to Kealoha, I'm posting my very first video blog. I'm not entirely sure there will be more, so it could also be my very last video blog. I look sorta crazy here. I guess that's just me naturally.

Enjoy the video. Let me know what you think. If you don't want to watch the whole thing, fast forward to the questions at the end. That's my favorite part.

 

Ah, Summer. No work. No income. Gah!

Around noon today, I’ll finish narrating the last novel I’m booked for. That means at 12:01 today, I officially begin my summer vacation. Well, sort of unofficially. I still have one day left of teaching, but that’s just exams and grading. I don’t have to plan anything. So. Summer vacation. Two months of not teaching…and no narration booked. Part of me is having a panic attack, I have to admit. Usually with narration I have something lined up, but nothing yet. It’s entirely possible I could go two months without work or income. I’m a little bit terrified. Both of not working (how DOES one relax?) and not getting paid.

At the same time, I’m really excited. I have two months to focus on reading, writing, and just recharging. It’s time to get my writing house back in order, and slip into some good novels. I’ve already started “Sarum” (a novel about England). When it came to me in the mail via Amazon, I opened the box and was shocked to find out that that muther is almost 1,000 pages of very small print. 1000 pages! And it begins with like the Ice Age or something. I guess there’s a reason it’s called the Novel of England. If I make it through that, I think I’m going to read some Carson McCullers and some other classics.

I should be excited. I really should. And I think I am it’s just…well…trying to find a home for the cats is depressing. There are no takers yet. My daughter is heartbroken, so is my son and Kealoha. Where are the Crazy Cat Ladies when you need them?  And then the concept of two months without an income is terrifying to me. What if I’m never hired to narrate again? What if teaching falls through? What if I can’t write a single word in my new literary novel?

I’m trying to tell myself to shut up. I talk too much. I worry too much. But then I just start talking again.

I’m trying to use that whole ‘affirmation’ thing and remind myself that this is just a vacation. I can take a vacation. And someone, someone will want to give my cats a home. And my kids will start getting better. And Kealoha and I are going to have a great wedding. And I’ll lose the five pounds I’ve been trying to since I broke my foot. And my mom will find an apartment that works for her and she’ll stop stressing me out. And I do believe in fairies, I do, I believe in fairies so much that I’m just going to clap my hands right now! clapclapclap

Yep. I’ll just repeat these things endlessly until I get so tired of listening to myself obsessing that I just plain shut it.

I’m thinking that’s going to be at 12:01 today. At 12:01 today, I’m going to sit outside and just breathe for a while and enjoy the start of my vacation.

And I’m going to turn the next page in my book.

 

Diet Update: Week Two

Diet WEEK TWO  

I was a little leery of stepping on the scale this morning because, well, let’s just say it was a hard week. First, there was the wine tasting on Thursday and there was no way I was counting calories then. On Friday, I was just plain exhausted and wanted good food and I wanted it NOW. And then today, well, it’s Mother’s Day. Enough said.

 

I know. I know. There’s always a thousand excuses. And now I’m becoming that calorie counting annoying person. It’s annoying me. I don’t want to count calories, but I don’t know any other way to keep me aware of how much I’m actually eating. To put it simply, this week I didn’t lose any weight. In fact, I gained 1.5 pounds…which puts me…shit…right back where I started. I’m literally the same weight I was two weeks ago when I started this whole “Got to change my eating habits” game again.

 

Muther humper.

 

I feel like crying, mostly because I really hate my body right now. Mostly, I hate my belly. It won’t go away. But I’m trying to breathe and remember that when I got dressed up for the Wine Tasting with Kealoha, I felt pretty good….so this whole self image thing I think is tied to other things. Mostly, a general feeling of never quite being good enough. Self esteem issues anyone?

Plus, I was narrating this week. ALL week. As most of you know, when I narrate, I’m in a studio (motionless) from 8:30 to 4:30. I narrate for an hour, take a bathroom break, and then keep narrating. We have an hour for lunch. So my activity level has tanked. I managed to walk about two miles a day still, and five miles this weekend, but  it hasn’t helped. And I did make ‘smart’ choices while narrating. Instead of getting McDonald’s biscuit for breakfast (500 calories) and a giant sandwich and soup and cookie for lunch (1500) calories, and eating chips and pop on the way home (300 calories) and then having a huge dinner (600 calories)…I ate small meals throughout the day. Turkey slices, hummus and veggies, salads with chicken, coffee, etc. So. That was good…and also a gigantic pain in my ass because my stomach would not stop rumbling. So, maybe then, it was a pain in my stomach. I hope to god people can’t hear those tummy rumbles. Nothing like listening to an audiobook and thinking “Huh. That narrator has gas.”

 

Bah!

Okay. So one good week; one for shit week. Some choices were in my control and some weren’t. On to week three. I’m not giving up. I’m just trying to figure out a lifestyle I can live with that makes me feel good.

 

This week, I’m cutting back on wheat because I think I might have an intolerance for it. And next week, I’m joining a gym again. With all the work I’m doing, I feel like I’ve earned the right to pay hefty monthly fees. It’ll be worth it if I can get my muffin top to disappear.

 

And dammit! Now I want a muffin!

 

ArrhghhhhhH!