narration

Romancing The Orkin Man

I just wrapped narration on a very sultry story by Vivian Arend called ONE WILD RIDE. Let’s just say, it’s not about a ride in a station wagon. Unless by station wagon, you mean cowboy. So let’s say my mind was in another place. I tell you this, because when the Orkin Man showed up to talk about the couple of ants I’ve noticed in the house, and he arrived wearing very tight pants, a belt, and his white shirt stretched taut against his bulging-man-muscles, and his tag said BED BUG EXPERT, I thought, Oh, I just bet you are. And I purred that thought. I did. Also, he was young and wearing a lot of cologne.

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Now, I wasn’t attracted to him. Not really. But there was an awareness that this dude could be on the cover of a romance novel. Just unbutton a couple of those buttons and have him hold his bug sprayer ‘just so’ and blammo! Every housewife’s dream.

My friend showed up around that time and we let the Orkin Man do his stuff and I tried to ignore the inner romance writer in my mind. Though I did notice that there was a strange breeze ruffling his slight disheveled hair. As if a fan was blowing.

Whatever.

So my friend and I visited, and then the Orkin Man interrupted me. “I’ve got some rather important questions,” he said. And suddenly, he was like some hardboiled detective investigating a crime. “If you’ll follow me,” he said, and I did. My friend followed too and she shot me a look. I tried not to notice.

We stood in the hallway. Was it hot? I think his pectoral muscles flexed. He pointed to the bedroom. “Do you see any action in there?”

And I gasped. I did. “Uhmmm. What?”

“Action. With the ants. You said there were two ant sightings in the hallway, but have you seen any activity in your bedroom?”

Boy have I! I wanted to say, but we were still talking about ants.

“Oh. No. Nope. There has been no action or fatalities or whatever in my bedroom.”

He ignored me and went on a very lengthy explanation about carpet ants and how their bodies were big and swollen because THEY LIKED TO MUNCH. ON WOOD. And I just started giggling. I did. They were the tremor kind of giggles. I could feel my friend’s eyes burning into me. She knew. She knew what I was thinking!

I’m not sure if he mentioned a bush, but he did mention trimming and I laughburped. God, I hate when I laughburp. I apologized. He looked hurt. He looked…I think…like he felt like the housewives he visits, never take him seriously. They never listen to his knowledge of pests and their need for eradication, and how he knows how to do that. They just look at his tight pants.

I prayed for him to stop talking. Eventually he did. I thanked him for coming. Over. To my house. To deal with the ants.

I really should not talk to other people. It’s just not wise.

****

If you want, you can listen to the blog here:

Waiting For A Publisher To Contact You Is Like Dysfunctional Dating All Over Again

Today I stood at my window, and looked out, pondering the universe while looking at my watery reflection . Then I leaned my head and sniffed my armpit. Everything seemed fine, but I was worried that maybe I smelled like onions. Or maybe I’m just weird. I returned to pondering my reflection in the glass. I looked normal enough. Whatever. Surely, today they’d call. Because, it’s just like that dude in those Saturday Night Live sketches used to affirm “I’m good enough, I’m strong enough, and gosh darn it, people like me” (even if I smell like onions).

Then Kealoha came downstairs and said: “Tanya, what the fuck are you doing?” Not in a mean way, mind you. In a soft and gentle and loving way.

Ahem.

Here’s why I was staring at myself: last month, a publisher read the first two chapters of my memoir “Popsicle Toes” and requested the whole manuscript. But it’s been over a month and I haven’t heard anything yet. And then last week, I had a speed dating session where I met five major publishers in audiobooks who all professed to find my narration really attractive and gave me their cards. I have followed up with all the publishers (one for my book and five for audio/narration work for other people’s work). I composed emails that I hope made me seem witty, carefree, professional, totally sane, totally reliable and unbelievably talented. And now…now it’s just a waiting game.

Here is the model-version of me trying to WILL a phone call from a publisher.

And I’m having flashbacks to my single days where I questioned everything I’ve ever said or done on a date, and tried to read into the dude’s perspective. “He said he liked me and I’m not like anyone he’s ever met so does that mean he’s interested in me, or does that mean he thinks I’m schizophrenic? I mean, does he like me or is he just being nice? And why did he breathe when he said…”

Now it’s the same thing, only I’m questioning my talent and how long do I wait before I contact the publishers again, and if I email them again, will I come off as creepy and pushy…but if I don’t email them again then maybe I’m not present in their mind and, dammit, something or someone smells like onions here and I’m going insane, but I’m totally able to handle all of this and why, why, WHY don’t they want me? Aren’t I good enough? Huh? HUH?

Breathe, breathe, breathe.

I’m trying to remind myself that if they’re really, really interested in me, they’ll contact me. I mean, Kealoha filled out an application  to date me so that proves something, right? Except, it took him fifteen years to get to that point, and I really don’t want to wait fifteen years to get my book published or to get a recording gig with another publisher.

It’s time for a big ol glass of wine and to stare out the window again. If it were raining, it’d be even better. I think I’ll make faces like I’m trapped and trying to get out, just to keep the neighbors’ guessing. It will keep me from obsessing over when, or IF, my phone is ever going to ring.

(But they wouldn’t give me a business card if they weren’t interested, right? Right?)

Gah.

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!

Scenes From My Life

I am on day four of my staycation and weird things are happening. I think I’m relaxing. Seriously. I know it’s hard to believe but I’m starting to feel the way I feel after taking a Valium to visit the dentist, you know, all loose and totally okay with someone sticking foreign objects in my mouth. Huh.

Maybe that’s not a good comparison. Let’s just say I’m feeling good. I'm "chillaxed". Like this dog:

I’m also accomplishing my daily To Do List of read, write, and work out. I usually throw five or six other things on the list, because, well, that’s what I do.

I mixed a new audiobook demo in hopes I can branch out and get some more work. I’d love to install a home recording studio. Here’s the demo if you’re curious. Oh. Wait. I can't upload it. Damnation! Anyway, it has excerpts from “Exclusive” by Sandra Brown, “Blunder Woman” by some freak, and “Ice Cold” by Tess Gerritsen. I wish I could’ve put her new one on here that I just recorded because I LOVE it. Ah well. *Kealoha rocks! Here's the demo.

I’ve also developed some kind of alien cold. When I breathe, I make this whistling wheezy sound and I’ve started coughing like an old smoker; you know, that kind of cough when you hear someone do it you think, my god, they’re going to cough up a baby. It’s super sexy. Kealoha can’t keep his hands off me, especially when I’m all hooo-waaahh. Yummy.

I took my mom out to lunch to smooth some things over with her. Found a home for one of the cats, and might have a home for our three-legged one…that leaves one more home to find for sweet Mercedes. She’s a cat that likes to sit on your shoulder and stick her butt in your face. Want her? She’s awesome.

And I sent out 5 agent queries on the 4th of July. One of them wrote me back that day and said: “First I have to congratulate you on one of the best queries I’ve read in some time. I’d love to read your novel.” Now, if I can just get her as excited about the novel as she was about the query.

Today it’s Movie Day with a girlfriend, tomorrow it’s Polish Sausage Night with Kealoha’s parents. The excitement just keeps ticking.

Oh. And I bought my wedding dress. I couldn’t decide which to get so I bought two. I’ll wear the one that makes me feel pretty and thin and the other one I’ll just pull a Miss Havisham (as suggested by writer Jennifer Armintrout). Yeah. I’ll put the wedding dress on and go grocery shopping, or to the dentist, or to the allergist’s, and pretend that it’s TOTALLY NORMAL.

Then I’ll hock up a loogie. Just for that final touch.

Loogie. Ew.

That was probably too much information. I should probably go sit in a moist, hot room or something for a while. See if I can birth me an alien baby.

In love and light, Tanya

Review of "We Need To Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver

For the summer, I've committed myself to my own plan to "Slow Down And Read" and I have a list of ten books I'm working on. They're a combination of romance, literary, mystery, historical, and just plain entertaining. This morning, I finished reading "We Need To Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver. Here is my review (as posted on GoodReads)

We Need to Talk About Kevin (P.S.)We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a brilliant novel. I don't say that lightly. I mean it. It's brilliant. And I think Lionel Shriver is a genius. Her work is like reading a mixture of Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and Dorothy Parker. She is relentless, fierce, and writes about the underbelly of the psyche. She is also lyrical. "We Need To Talk About Kevin" is not an easy read. The subject matter is daunting (a woman reflects on the signs in her son's life that would lead him to committing a massacre at her school); the voice is ruthless (with lines like when my son was born "I felt nothing"); and still, the piece is utterly compelling.

It leads one to look at the root of evil. Is evil incarnate or is it created? Is a sociopath born or made? Should a child (essentially) be held accountable for his own monstrosity?

It also echoes fears every mother possesses from gestation to the adulthood of a child: What if I give birth to someone who is damaged? Is it my fault? How much of a child's behavior is because of the mother?

The novel plays on fears, but it also explores our own humanity.

A few years ago, I was booked to narrate Shriver's "A Post Birthday World". It was, like this novel, challenging but in the end, thoroughly rewarding both intellectually and emotionally. I haven't been booked to narrate another of her books (though I so wish I would be), so instead I'm vowing to read everything she's ever written. She is not a writer that makes you feel good. No. She challenges you. She gets in your face and makes you uncomfortable. She demands that you analyze your own life and your own choices. For this reason, I can't seem to put her work down. I'm completely, reluctantly, enthralled.

View all my reviews

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.