Wednesday, February 26, 2014

6 #Tips on choosing a #Narrator by Karen Rose Smith

How do you choose a narrator? 

I delved into the project of developing some of my novels into audiobooks, never realizing what type of challenge this could be.  I listened to hundreds of narrator samples on, attempting to decide which voice will best convey my hero or heroine, emotion and multiple characters.  This can be a difficult decision to make from a ten minute audition sample.  With fifteen audiobooks for sale, another one with an agreement, I've developed a set of guidelines that help me.  Maybe they will help you.

1. Choose an audition sample with multiple characters and emotion as well as narrative.

I usually upload an audition script that includes three characters so I can tell if I can distinguish voices with the narrator.  I also upload a scene containing dialogue, narrative, and emotion.  This is a true test of a narrator in a short script.  It makes a difference to me if the narrator only readers the minimum required or all the pages I uploaded.  That is a sign that shows me if the narrator is willing to go the extra mile.  That could be vital in working together, whether for deadlines or editing concerns.

2.  All recording equipment is not created equal.

You will have varying levels of expertise in not only the telling of the story but in the equipment narrators use to tell it.  First thing to do is buy a set of studio headphones.  (I found mine at Sears.)  You will have customers who listen on everything from computer speakers at their desktop to earbuds and expensive headsets.  You need to know exactly what they will be hearing.

3.  When you listen to an audition, you will need to listen on several levels.

First, listen for tone and cadence of voice.  Could this person be your hero?  Could this narrator be your heroine?

Second, listen to the story itself to see if you're distracted by the voice or propelled into the plot by it.  Is there some type of speech that takes your attention from the story?  Does the narrator have an accent?  Does that add to or detract from the telling?  (Example.  My narrator for ALWAYS HER COWBOY is Australian.  His accent is somewhat evident.  However, his voice and his talent for reading the exact emotion into scenes made the accent irrelevant.  He was my hero.)

Third, listen for pronunciation.  My rule of thumb for this issue is if a word stops me from concentrating on the story, it will stop someone else.  This can easily be handled in editing if the narrator has expertise with editing.  And your narrator should.

Fourth, listen for emotion and natural dialogue.

4.  Listen several times.

You can probably do all of the above on the first listen-through.  But you're not finished there.  Adjust your earphones again and listen for any strange noises...any background noises.  Some narrators leave natural breaths in.  Others take them out.  Figure out if leaving them in is distracting to you.

What I've discovered wearing earphones are the noises you won't hear if you are trying to analyze a voice from your desktop computer.  Automatically the hum of your computer will cover noise someone using earbuds or earphones might hear.  One of the noises I've picked up with earphones is the hum of the recorder when it starts and when it goes off.  If I can hear it, a listener with earbuds in a quiet setting will hear it.  You want a nothingness vacuum in back of the voice that acts as a cushion for it.  You don't want to hear pages turning, static, or any type of hum or echo.

Listening can be an art, but you want it to be an effortless endeavor for the buyer of your audiobook.  The best way to insure their positive experience is to choose the best storyteller for your novel.  But you also need to choose a narrator with a level of expertise as the producer.  (Some use outside studios to edit but many edit and upload the chapters themselves.)

And...  After the audition, once you approve the first fifteen minutes, you are tied in to that narrator whether you like the finished product or not.  This is a seven year commitment.  Remember that if you're tempted to make a fast decision rather than a more thoughtful one.

5.  Male or female narrator?

I'll be writing more about this in future blogs when I spotlight my narrators so my readers can learn more about them.  For now, I'll tell you that out of fifteen projects, all romance novels, I have chosen seven male narrators.  I look at my opening scene, check the book for point of view shifts, then decide whose story is being told the most--my hero's or my heroine's.  If it's a toss up, I ask both to audition then make an agreement with whomever tells the story the best.   I've found I enjoy listening to a male narrator reading with a higher voice for my heroine more than listening to a female narrator reading a male voice I often can't distinguish from the heroine's.

So if you're considering developing your books into audiobooks, find a set of headphones and start listening carefully.  We want our readers to get lost in our story.  Choosing a narrator who captures the essence of our work is the best way to make that happen.

6.  Royalty share or finished hour production fee.  

I've used both.  Again, this depends on whether or not I can find a narrator who fits the book.  I start out listening to royalty share narrators.  But I've paid production fees on six of my projects.  There again, listen for the voice.  A higher production fee doesn't always mean a better finished product.

I've enjoyed the process of developing my romances into audiobooks.  Be aware it is a time consuming process.  One of the huge problems with marketing audiobooks is the lack of promotional opportunities other than social media.  I developed these books for the long tail of promotion.  I believe this market is set to take off because of smart phones, Ipads, etc.  However, just as with ebooks, this market is becoming glutted too.  Just something to consider when starting this process.

It's been a wonderful experience hearing my books come alive.  As I write more indie projects, I will continue to develop them into audiobooks.  

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website

Monday, February 24, 2014

What do you expect from your #cozy #mystery?

What do you expect from a cozy mystery?
A recent discussion on social media urged me to think about this as well as talk to my readers.  As long as I've read cozies, I've known what to expect--a puzzle to solve without graphic violence and little romance.  But like everything else in publishing, cozies are changing.  There doesn't seem to be a line drawn now between the natural form of a cozy and additional aspects taken from other genres like thrillers and romance.

When I wrote my first cozy, I decided to pen a story that I'd like to read, that kept in the tradition of the cozy genre.  But with ebooks, we're capturing a broader age range of readers as well as life experience level. My first cozy series stars a sleuth who loves her family, takes in stray animals, cooks and is totally involved in her career of home staging, making it unique in her style that works in a sagging real estate market.  Since my twenty years of writing romance play into what I write, I've included a touch of romance--sweet but emotion-filled romance.

I'd love to hear from readers about what THEY expect in a cozy.  Why do you pick up particular cozies?  What will urge you to try a new author?

In the meantime, I'll continue writing Caprice De Luca's series...and maybe sifting through ideas for the next one.

Read Karen's new mystery. Her sleuth, Caprice De Luca, stages houses, decorates, loves to cook and is an animal lover too!

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 

Karen Rose Smith's mystery website 

Karen Rose Smith's SEARCH FOR LOVE SERIES website 


©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Narrating #Romance, An interview with Johnny Peppers

I have developed fifteen romances into audiobooks and worked with many different narrators. Johnny Peppers was my first audiobook narrator and he's still one of my favorites.

My first interview with Johnny was about his background and the technical side of narrating.  I enjoyed working with him and his style of narrating so much on TOYS AND BABY WISHES that he recorded a second romance for me WHEN MOM MEETS DAD as well as a third APRIL'S PROMISE. THe first two are romantic comedies and the third is more of an emotional family drama.  They are all a slice of real life so I decided to explore with Johnny more details about a narrator's everyday life--from recording love scenes to favorite books.

So about those love scenes....   Here we go with my interview with Johnny Peppers.

The topic of love scenes surfaced when I asked Johnny--What is the funniest thing that happened to you while you were recording?

The funniest thing that has happened to me is when I recorded my first "love scene" for my first romantic novel, TOYS AND BABY WISHES.  My wife was listening at the door, and I had to stop recording because of the noise she was making on the other side.  It's not what you think--she was laughing at me.  I suppose she has never heard those words come out of my mouth in that order, and she was a little embarrassed and blushing outside the door.

If you could have lunch with one famous person, who would that be?

If I could have lunch with one famous person, it would be Henry Clay.  He ran for President four times and lost.  He is the Buffalo Bill of Presidential Elections.  He was a statesman and a smart man, but just didn't have the political clout to win.

What is your favorite all time book?

I don't really have a favorite book, but I love reading Johnathan Kellerman, Dean Koontz, J.D. Robb and similar authors who write thrillers.

How about a favorite theater production?

My favorite theater production has to be Father of the Bride.  I played Stanley Banks (the father) in the play.
It was my first leading role on the stage, and I could perform that play 100 times without getting bored.  My favorite play I have directed is Mrs. John Marsh--The World Knew Her as Margaret Mitchell.  This was a one-woman play that ran in Atlanta, Georgia during the summer of 2012, discussing the life of the author of GONE WITH THE WIND.  My wife, Kandace, played the role of Mitchell, and I was the technical director on the project to start.  A month before we left for the run, the playwright fired the director and asked me to step in and finish it up.  I did, and my wife and I had a marvelous time working on this project together.  And, Kandace received high praise from the local community of theater goers and critics for the work.  By the way, she is a former Miss Mississippi and has a new jazz album out now on ITunes and Amazon and Spotify as Kandi Peppers (ON MY MIND). We are a performing family!!!

Do you read through a manuscript before you narrate it?

I do read through the chapter before recording.  I don't read the whole book, though, because I don't want to give anything away thorough my vocalizations.  I want to know what happens chapter by chapter like the readers do.

How do you create different voices?

As an actor and generally silly human being, I have been creating voices since I was a kid.  I simply change pitch, placement of the voice, accent or whatever else to make it different.  I usually channel a family member or character voice that I love.  My favorite voice is "Toby", a character I created that is sweet, innocent, has a slight lisp, talks in the back of his throat, and love life.  I have yet to find a place for Toby in my narrations, but I hope to soon!!!

How do you keep the characters straight?

I use Markers on the audio tracks the first time a character appears.  That way, I can go back and listen if I need to.  Also, if there are a lot of characters, I create a separate character file and keep lines form each character on one line (using markers to keep them separated).

If you had to name TV shows that hold your interest, what would they be?

My favorite TV show of all time? Has to be Quantum Leap.  Of course, favorites change.  I love Friends, Seinfeld, King of Queens, Big Bang Theory, Dexter, 24, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Survivor!

Do you have a snack that you prefer above all others?

My favorite snack is Banana Chips. I am a muncher, and those are healthier than potato chips and oh, so good.

Do you have any pets?

I have two dogs that I love!  Ella is a 6 year old white Toy Poodle and Gilly is a 2 year old red Teacup Poodle.  Ella and Gilly weigh 8 pounds total. (Ella 6 lbs. and Gilly 2 lbs.)

I just want to repeat again what a joy Johnny is to work with--a talented narrator, professional and a great technician. His contact info is

Copyright by Karen Rose Smith 2014

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A #Tip About #Facebook LIKES, Friends...and Author Pages

Hi, readers.  Many of you follow my profile page as well as my KarenRoseSmithBooks page on Facebook.  I have both for a bunch of reasons.  On my personal page, I post more personal photos about everyday life.  And you must be a "friend" on my profile page in order to be included in my Street Team Group or my Readers Group.  However, it's my KarenRoseSmithBooks page where I post everyday writing news, releases and important for my readers--GIVEAWAYS.

I feel that we're a small community on my KarenRoseSmithBooks page.  Over 1100 readers have LIKED the page.  However, only about 50 of you see regularly what is on that page.  This is what you have to do to learn about giveaways, news and chat there.  HOVER YOUR CURSOR over the LIKED icon.  Make sure the "SHOW IN NEWS FEED" and "ADD TO INTEREST GROUP" choices are checked.  Let's see if I can actually reach you with giveaways, news and chats.

Click here to visit KarenRoseSmithBooks Facebook page.

Only six more weeks until spring.  But that can be a looong six weeks.  So watch my KarenRoseSmithBooks Facebook page for some fun to make winter seem a little shorter.

Karen Rose Smith

Click here to visit KarenRoseSmithBooks Facebook page.

Book 1, Search For Love series


Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Your Most Unusual #Home #Decorating Item by Karen Rose Smith

When you decorate your house, probably your most unusual decorating piece tells the most about you and your style! It can express what you want to be...what you wish your whole house was about...a memory you'd like to bring into your home from the past...just something crazy that when you look at it, you smile!

Since I write western novels and enjoy doing it...because Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Chimayo, Sedona and the Grand Canyon are some of the most powerful places on the planet for me and fill me with creative energy, we chose to decorate our living room and my office with Southwest decor.  Fifteen years ago, finding anything that spoke of the Southwest in Pennsylvania was difficult.  Our son lived in Tennessee and there was a trading post there that supplied us with decorations, hangings and pottery until finally years later, I traveled to the Southwest myself.  I felt I was my true self there with the colors, the history, the legends and the spirit.

This drum light (made from real drums) was the most unusual item we found.  And we found two of them online.  The shade is rawhide.  It has lasted for years.  When I see the rawhide, I think of cowboys. When I see the drums, I think of ancient cultures. The lights at either end of our sofa remind me of places where I loved to be and hope to be again.

What's the most unusual decorating item in your house?  What does it remind you of?  What do you think about when you see it?

I'd love to hear your stories.

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Friday, February 7, 2014

#Valentine's Day Giveaway by Romance, Mystery and Suspense Authors

What's better than a Valentine's Day Giveaway?  RMS Writers--6 Romance, Mystery, and Suspense Authors--are giving away a book a day from February 8-13, 2014.  And on Valentine's Day, they will give away a $15 Amazon Gift card.

To enter, LIKE the RMS Writers Page on Facebook Click here--RMS Writers FB Page  --and LIKE the post for each book that you want  to win.  A name will be drawn from the LIKES each day.  The winner of the Amazon gift card will be drawn from all the LIKES submitted on February 14, 21014 until midnight EST. 

February 8, 2014
Susan Meier

The magic of the Mediterranean...&
When accountant Olivia Prentiss joins Tucker Engle's company, she's unceremoniously demoted--to stand in as his PA! However, Tucker's not in for an easy ride.  Olivia's worked hard to get where she is now, and refuses to bow to her gorgeous boss's commands--however fearsome his reputation.

But soon Olivia begins to see there is far more to her boss than meets the eye.  And on a business trip to Italy, she sees straight through Tucker's hard and proud exterior to a man with a far more vulnerable edge...

February 9, 2014
Karen Rose Smith
Staged To Death
A Caprice De Luca home staging mystery, Book 1

Mystery with a touch of romance...

Caprice De Luca, home-stager extraordinaire and animal lover, whose retro lifestyle seems to be a magnet for cats and dogs needing a home, never expects to solve a murder.

Her brother and sisters warn her to watch her step.  A doctor she is falling for asks her to be careful.  So does her brother's law partner.  But how can she be careful when her best friend is the prime suspect?
An antique dagger...a pharmaceutical company's greed...the murder victim's enemies...

Enjoy solving the mystery with Caprice, cook along with her, see her find homes of the stray animals she protects, be a part of the De Luca STAGED TO DEATH.

February 10, 2014
Myrna Mackenzie 
The Rancher's Unexpected Family

One Stetson size!
It's well-known in Larkville that "no" is pretty much the sum total of cowboy Holt Calhoun's vocabulary ever since his marriage ended.

Single mom-to-be Katheryn Ellis won't take no for an answer.  She needs Holt's influence, as had of the town's most powerful family to save the local clinic before her baby is born!

But an early arrival with Kathryn's sparkling eyes and heart-melting smile makes it impossible for Holt to turn on his spurred heel and walk away...

February 11, 2014
Margaret Watson
Love Me: The Donovan Family

When Helen Brody needed her office repaired, she never expected that the contractor would be Jamie Evans, the man with whom she shared an unforgettable night a year earlier.  Jamie hasn't forgotten Helen, either, and now that he's found her, he's determined not to let her get away again.
Helen can't get involved with Jamie, because he wants something she can't give him.  But she can't deny the explosive, out of control attraction between them.   As they try to work through their feelings, they find that the hit and run driver who destroyed Helen's office has more plans for her.  Will they have only a handful of nights together, or will they have the chance to build something lasting?

Caution: Contains explicit sex and graphic language.

February 12, 2014
Colleen Collins
Sleepless In Las Vegas

After nearly destroying each other's careers, PI-intern Val LeRoy and seasoned Las Vegas PI Drake Morgan are forced to work together.  If each had their way, they'd walk.  But when threatened by a dangerous criminal who jeopardizes their lives and families, they put side their differences to solve the case.  As the hunt for the truth intensifies and their passion rivals the triple-digit temperature, Val and Drake learn why Las Vegas is the city that never sleeps.

February 13, 2014
Holly Jacobs
Steamed: A Maid in LA Mystery (Book 1)

Quincy Mac is a maid in LA--a maid who accidentally cleaned a murder scene.

Now she's a murder suspect with only one option--find the real murderer before she ends up in jail for a crime she didn't commit.

Quincy came to LA looking for fame and fortune.  What she's found is infamy and misfortune.  There's a killer out there, and Quincy's going to find them...or die trying. 

RMS Writers FB Page

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Monday, February 3, 2014

Stray and Feral #Cats in #Winter by Karen Rose Smith

Snow and ice and cold. We've had a hard winter in Pennsylvania and so have the stray and feral cats.  I can only imagine how cold and snowy the weather has been in the other parts of the country.  Today's snow and ice is supposed to bring us 5-8 more inches.  We have three inside rescued cats and this season we have 4 or 5 stray and/or feral cats who use our outside feeders...and maybe the shelters. Two of them have heat pads.

This year our temperatures were so low that within a half hour after putting food in the feeder, it was frozen!  So we had to check it often.  It was mid-winter until we discovered that putting food just inside the Igloo shelter didn't freeze.

We put out dry food so there is always something there for our visitors to eat.  That's easy to refill.  We put out wet food first thing in the morning.  This morning, in spite of the snow, one of the kitties came to eat out of the igloo.  It was gone.  Half of the food in the plain feeder was gone.  We refill three times a day.  More than ever this time of year is when stray and feral cats need food and shelter.  On the patio near the food, we also have a heated water bowl.  It's hard for them to find water this time of year with water sources frozen. Along the patio we also have a few solar lights so that at night, they are a beacon near the shelters.

When you care for stray and feral cats, you have to detach a little or you'll worry every night when the temperature drops or anytime they don't appear for a few days.  But that's the nature of caring for them.  I'm so looking forward to warmer temps and spring when I spend time on the patio gardening and writing. Maybe then, I can gain a little trust.  Maybe then, they'll eat even when my husband and I are around.  Love given in the form of food, shelter and water is always a good thing.  I believe in karma.  I might need love, food, water and shelter...and most of all kindness in the years to come. 

©2014 Karen Rose Smith