Monday, April 28, 2014

A Perfect Day! What is yours? by Karen Rose Smith

What is your idea of a perfect day?

On a perfect day, I would be free of a to-do list!
Maybe days I feel my life runs me instead of me running my life.  I easily get caught up in the have-to-do's whether they are personal or career oriented.  I automatically prioritize, whether on my paper to-do list or the one in my head.  On an energetic day, I can tick them off one after the other until all tasks are completed.  On a slower day, they spill over into the next day or the next , depending on importance.  But what would I do if I didn't have a to-do list?  Great question.  But so hypothetical because I don't think it will ever happen.

The sun would be shining.
This is a must for my perfect day.  Sunshine not only helps the flowers grow, it gives me energy, lets suncatchers make rainbows on the walks, and reminds me there's a whole big world out there I want to see.

The flowers in the garden would be blooming.
I love color and sweet natural scents.  Something about sitting or walking through a garden enlivens my creative spirit, soothes my soul and relaxes me.  Nature is vibrant and that vibrancy seeps into me when I remember to enjoy it.

My favorite people would surround me. 
My perfect days are simple. At the end of the summer, family who lives across the country flies in.  We have a picnic with family and friends, sometimes making s'mores over the fire pit.  On those evenings when the moon and stars are bright and loved ones are close, I feel the day is perfect.

I'd love for you to share YOUR perfect day in the comments.

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An #Interview with #Narrator Alexandra Haag, Part 1, by Karen Rose Smith

When I went searching for a narrator for HEARTFIRE, a sweet but sensual romance about family, it was my 16th audiobook to put into production.  This time, instead of listening to hundreds of samples, I listened to an audiobook a friend had developed and asked her about her narrator.  She recommended Alexandra Haag highly on all levels of production from the technical to the professional working relationship.  I asked Alexandra to audition and her voice was perfect for all my characters.  She does a wonderful job of distinguishing voices as well as with all the technical aspects of production.  I'm so pleased to introduce her to my readers and other authors so you can learn a bit about her and the process.  Our interview is detailed so I'm doing a Part 1 and Part 2 blog of it.  I will post the second installment next week.

From Alexandra Haag--

Alexandra's Website

Tell us a little about your background: Where are you from?
I was born in Central California, spent my school years in the Midwest, and my college and adult years in Southern California.  I like to say I'm a California girl with good Midwestern values.

What was your schooling?
I have a BA from UCLA in English/American Studies and an MA from San Diego State University in Education/Educational Technology.

How do you train to become a narrator?
An acting background is very important, but narration is even more specific, so it's essential to find a coach who can guide you through the skills peculiar to this very intimate medium.

What's been your experience with narrating so far?
I found that audiobook narration has a very steep learning curve and I'm amazed by how many have taken on the challenge.  I produce my own work as well, so there is a lot of technical knowledge that goes into the actual recording, editing and mastering of the finished audio.  It's a challenge, but deeply rewarding when an author is pleased with the results, and listeners and fans respond positively to the audio presentation.

What genre do you like to narrate the best?
I've enjoyed all of the genres that I've voiced, which include non-fiction, memoirs, young adult, science fiction, historical fiction, and romances.  My little secret, though, is how much I enjoy the romances.  I've been lucky enough to narrate romances with themes that generally reflect my own values and I appreciate how the authors can marry traditional values with some pretty hot intimate scenes!

Did you read a lot as a kid?  As an adult?
Throughout my life I've been a voracious reader and have great respect for writers.  I know the challenge of the writing process and, when I narrate, I do my best to honor the author's words and intent.

Why did you decide to begin narrating audiobooks?
For several years I read the local paper on our local PBS radio station as a service to the sight impaired, and I also facilitated a neighborhood book club.  One month we read a book that I thought should be available on audio and I contacted the author/publisher.  While they ultimately never made an audio of that book, I did record it for a friend of mine with macular degeneration.  From there, I decided that I'd commit myself to exploring and honing this craft.  I feel that it's the highest privilege to be invited by listeners to spend extended times with them, speaking in their ears and telling them a story, and I've studied and worked at this craft in order to offer a performance worthy of their trust.

How do you know what voice to use for each character?
When preparing the book, I try to gather as much information from the text as I can about the physical and emotional makeup of each character.  I try to make the voice reflect all of that information so that when you hear the voice, you can picture him or her in your mind.

How do you keep the voices straight?
It can be a real challenge to remember how each character sounds.  In my mind I have a kind of visual map as to where the voice is coming from (high/low, thin/fat, breathy/gravelly, etc.).  Sometimes I realize that I don't like my initial choice of voice for a character and then must go back and re-record.

Read Part 2 of my interview with Alexandra next week.

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Monday, April 21, 2014

#Mystery and #Cozy Mega Giveaway including Karen Rose Smith, Laura Childs, Jenn McKinlay, Leann Sweeney...


Lisa K's Mega Author Giveaway!!!!

Read all about it....

41 Authors...48 Prizes...48 Winners
Over 80 chances to win!
This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only
The Mega Giveaway will run until April 28 at midnight. Winners will be announced April 29.

Winners will be picked at random through Rafflecopter.
Prizes will be rewarded in the order winners are are chosen.
(First name picked wins the first prize, second name picked wins the second prize, etc.)

Read the list of authors and prizes and ENTER at Lisa K's blog (link below).

Victoria Abbott
Ellery Adams
Connie Archer
Beverly ALlen
Jennie Bentley
Laurien Berenson
Susan Bernhardt
Duffy Brown
Mollie Cox Bryan
Leslie Budewitz
Lucy BUrdette
Kate Carlisle
Elizabeth Lynn Casey
Erika Chase
Laura Childs
Barbara Jean Coast
Peg Cockran
Kate Collin
Cleo Coyle
Leighann Dobbs
Daryl Wood Gerber
Victoria Hamilton
Mary Ellen Hughes
Jule Hyzy
Sue Ann Jaffarian
Kylie Logan
Molly MacRae
Mary Marks
Jenn McKinlay
Laura Morrigan
Liz Mugavero
Sharon Pape
Nancy J. Parra
Leigh Perry
Cat Price
Pamela Rose
Sara Rosett
Karen Rose Smith
Denise Swanson
Leann Sweeney


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, April 17, 2014

An Interview With #Narrator Natalie Gray--How She Does It by Karen Rose Smith

My narrator for RIBBONS AND RAINBOWS, Natalie Gray, gives readers,  authors and narrators a comprehensive view of her profession.  I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoyed learning about it.

Here is Natalie Gray.

Tell us a little about your background:  Where are you from?
I'm from Wisconsin.  Born in Green Bay and raised in a small farming community of 863 people located about 15 miles from Green Bay.  It was an excellent environment to grow up in because we learned about the land and where food came from.  How I live now was deeply influenced by growing up so close to the land.

What was your schooling?
I must have loved school, because I got two masters Degrees, both in Theatre. :) One was in theory and Criticism and one was for Acting and Directing.

How do you train to become a narrator?
The obvious way is through school or workshops or classes.  I think it's important to have a basic understanding of acting techniques.  It's imperative that you listen to other audiobook narrators (something I need to do more of myself.) The other way I think it's important to train is to simply read, read, read. If you don't love reading, then why bother narrating?  There's such joy in immersing oneself in the worlds created by all these amazing authors.  Reading, reading, reading gives such exposure to the many different styles of books out there.

What's been your experience with narrating so far?
I simply love it.  It's my dream job.  I've been very fortunate that work comes my way regularly.  I love being able to bring different authors texts to life.  It's been a wonderful experience.

What genre do you like to narrate the best?
I"m not sure, yet.  I really like romance novels, but I also adore a good fiction story and non--fiction also captivates my attention.  And truly, I love doing children's books!

Did you read a lot as a kid?  As an adult?
Yes, to both.  I'm an avid reader.

Why did you decide to begin narrating audiobooks?
It was what some people call a "godshot."  I was trying to figure out what to do with my life.  I'd been an actor for 20 years, and then taken a break to find a hubby and really make some money (I had loans to pay off from all the schooling.)  I knew I didn't want to work for anyone else and I knew I didn't want to go back to acting.  Then one day, I was looking at presenter work on the Internet, and saw an ad that invited people to become a voice-over actor.  As soon as I saw the ad, I knew that's where I was headed.  And then when someone mentioned audiobooks, I was hooked.

How do you know what voice to use for each character?
When I read a book, whether I'm going to narrate it or not, I always imagine how the characters look and sound.  When I narrate a book, I try to replicate the sound and the feel of how I hear each characters' voice.  There's more than just the sound of the voice, there's also how fast or slow the character speaks, whether they speak clearly or garble their words, where they place there voice (like is it more nasal or is it more back in the throat,) do they have an accent.  All these things go into trying to voice a character.

How do you keep them straight?
Since I see and hear each character very clearly, it's not hard to "keep them straight."  Although, if it's been awhile since I've voiced a certain character, I do sometimes go back and listen to a part of the book I've already recorded that has that character's lines in it.  This way I can remind myself of exactly how I tried to capture the voice and feel of that character.

Do you feel as if you become the characters as you narrate?
To some extent, yes, I think I do, otherwise it would be hard to get their point of view across.  No matter what kind of character I voice, I need to see the world of the story from that character's point of view.

Do you read the book before you start or narrate scene by scene?
I read the book at least once before I start.  It saves having to re-record earlier chapters because of things you might find out about characters that occur later on in the book.

What is the toughest part of narrating?
The length of time it actually takes to record a book.  If a book is 10 hours long, it means that a narrator probably has about 15-20 hours of actual speaking time.  This is because it's impossible to record everything perfectly, so there's a lot of re-takes and re-recording that happens.

How do you protect your voice?
It is very important to make sure I've warmed up my voice before recording.  I also don't give major characters voices that are too far off my own natural speaking voice, because that's very taxing.  For example, I can do a very deep-voiced or gravelly voiced man, but I'd only use something like that for a character that spoke less often.

What's involved in the process from setting up a home studio, to editing, to putting the book for sale?  How long does it take?
That's quite a question.  Setting up a home studio is something you do once, and then that's it.  It's an expensive proposition, so it's important to research it before hand, by reading industry books (the one I used to get started was "Voice Actors Guide to Recording at Home...and on the Road" by Harlan Hogan and Jeffrey P. Fisher.)  There are also online teleclasses and seminars on the subject, and just talking to other voice-over actors can be really helpful.  It took me about two weeks of really studying things and figuring out how I could make my space work to get it all together.  I wanted as professional a sound as I could get, so I spent a fair amount of money on my equipment, but definitely not as much as I COULD have spent.  It can get crazy, and there's no need to do that when you're first starting out.  For myself, the cost to get up and running was about $1500.  I know voice-over actors who have done it for a lot less.

Once you have set up a home studio, then you're ready to start looking for work.  There are many places nowadays to find work.  If you're a narrator, then is one of the best places to be registered.  That's where I get most of my audiobook work.  It's important to have a professionally done audiobook demo.  If your sound quality is bad, I don't care how good you are as a narrator, it will be hard for you to sell yourself.
(Note from Karen--I listened to many, many, many auditions. Sometimes I really liked the voice for my hero or heroine.  But if the sound quality had any problems--like the machine going on and off, thumping noises in the background, echoes, I went on to another audition.  Those problems can be time consuming for both the narrator and author and sometimes they simply can't be fixed.  Natalie's sound quality was top-notch.)

On ACX you have a profile, which authors can find you through, and I often get offers to narrate books just from my profile.  But, you can also search for authors looking for narrators, and that process involved submitting an audition.  Once you submit your audition, it can take anywhere from 1 day to a couple of weeks to hear if you got the job or not.

Once you get a narrating job, how quickly a book is recorded, edited mastered and delivered is up to the schedule agreed upon by the narrator and the author.  On ACX, the average length of time is 30-60 days to get the book recorded, mastered and approved, and then it can be another 2-3 weeks before it gets listed for sale.  So, the process can be about 2-4 months (and often it can be longer.)

What do you look for in an author's history to sway you toward narrating their book?
I look for an author who has some success already with prior books, but mostly, I choose whether or not to narrate a book based on whether or not I like the story.  I only want to narrate audiobooks that I'd like to read.  Since I like to read a lot of different types of material, that gives me a wide range to choose from, fortunately.

What do you like to do most when  you're not narrating?
I'm super interested in the eat-local, sustainable and organic food movement.  I'm involved marginally int he politics of it, but mostly I'm involved in it through living it, which means I grow some of my own food.  I make my own kombucha (tea), I make my own sauerkraut, do a lot of freezing and preserving of fresh foods.  There's nothing on earth like the taste of a tomato right off the vine.

I also spend time with my hubby and my cat.  It's a pretty simple life, and very satisfying.

Natalie Gray's email addy:

Natalie's Website

Monday, April 14, 2014

Signs of #Spring in #Pennsylvania by Karen Rose Smith

After a long harsh winter in Pennsylvania, we finally have signs of spring.  The last week brought temperatures in the 60's and 70's. Just like all of us who have cabin fever, our garden plants couldn't wait to bud and bloom.  In the past few days, wonderful scents and vibrant colors are dotting our gardens, assuring us that planting season isn't far away.  We're supposed to have rain and cooler temperatures for the next week and I wanted to document these beauties before that happened.  This might be our spring before we hop into summer after the last cold spell. Our gnarled weeping cherry has just begun the blossoming process.

After my mom passed on, I planted a garden in her honor. I try to keep something blooming through the whole season.  These hyacinths are usually first to pop up.

This is a newer variety of hyacinth that is supposed to be more fragrant and fuller.  It's gorgeous.

Two tone and frilly!

Old Fashioned Bluebells

I hope your garden gives you as much pleasure as ours does.  It is my peaceful place to write or relax.  And I'm looking forward to more color and blooms.  I often post garden photos on my Facebook page along with writing news and cat pics!

©2014 Karen Rose Smith


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

Karen Rose Smith's SEARCH FOR LOVE SERIES website 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How Growing #Seedlings Is Very Much Like #Plotting by Karen Rose Smith

With the beginning of a new growing season, I've been planting tomato seeds. I concentrate on heirloom tomatoes because their flavor is supposed to be richer and sweeter. I ordered several varieties of seeds from cherry to plum to fine slicing tomatoes. What I love about the heirloom tomatoes is their history. The one I planted with the richest history and most elaborate one (Marianna's Peace), is a variety that the seedlings pop up quickly and with hardy determination. The leaves are deep green, growing with vigor. They will grow into terrific plants, with tomatoes that are pink-hued and can weigh over a pound. These seeds have been cherished, protected and promulgated since the early 1900's. Care and thought and lots of emotion have touched these tomato seeds.

Novel plots are very much like heirloom tomato seeds. An idea takes root in my mind like that tiny seed in the proper soil with the right amount of heat and light. Some ideas don't take root. They don't gather energy or germinate and no book grows. But others start with a conflict that develops into a plot or a character who generates conflict, or an issue that rolls through circumstances or a crisis that comes to a head. Suddenly conflict seems to draw light from the characters. The plot absorbs the proverbial "water" or energy from ideas generating ideas, developing into scenes, all of it uniting to produce a book. The richer the idea, the better it will grow. The more care given to the original premise, the better it will grow. The more emotion the characters generate, the further the plot is pushed. A rich storyline is rooted in the history, knowledge and research behind the plot. Plots and seeds are very much alike!

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

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

Karen Rose Smith's SEARCH FOR LOVE SERIES website 


Sunday, April 6, 2014

#Cover reveal for DEADLY DECOR by Karen Rose Smith, Book 2 Caprice De Luca home staging #mystery #series

Caprice De Luca is a sleuth with personality!  She's a home-stager and likes to use unique themes for the houses she stages so they sell faster and tempt house hunters from all over to her open houses.  But Caprice herself, at thirty-two is a retro girl.  With her hair style from the 70's, her vintage clothes from the 50's and 60's, and her gravitation toward unique pieces, her home reflects her likes and personality.  My cover for DEADLY DECOR--June 2014, the second book in the Caprice De Luca home-stager mystery series says it all.

It's like a treasure map that will tell you important details about Caprice and the book.  The colors are so 60's, Caprice's favorite decade.  In her 50's Pennsylvania Cape Cod house, you'll find retro appliances in her kitchen, colorful turquoise, yellow and lime green mugs and a purple can opener.  If you look closely, you'll see a symbolic can of green paint--a painter she contracts with is murdered.  Most of all you'll see the coker spaniels that play a large part in this book.  Her cat Sophia--named after her Nana's favorite actress, Sophia Loren--sits atop the refrigerator, watching over all.

This cover reveals Caprice's personality, her vocation for caring for stray animals and her desire to surround herself and her clients with a mood that suits their own lifestyle.

Oh, and did I mention this series includes recipes?  Caprice comes from a large Italian family and likes to cook. Her sister Nikki is a caterer who helps with Caprice's unique and extravagant open houses.  Her Nana and Mom are down-home cooks.

You can read an excerpt from DEADLY DECOR on my mystery website. Karen's Mystery Website Stay tuned for more blogs about decorating, cooking, dogs and cats and everything that makes this series unique.

Karen Rose Smith's romance website 
Karen Rose Smith's mystery website
Karen's Facebook Author Page

©2014 Karen Rose Smith

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Karen Rose Smith's #Interview with #Audiobook #Narrator, Jeff Bower

Before I introduce Jeff Bower to you, I just want to say how much I enjoyed the process of working with him.  When I listen to narrator samples before I ask for an audition, I'm interested in a tone of voice that fits the story.  As I was deciding whether I wanted to audition male or female narrators for WISH ON THE MOON--Finding Mr. Right Series, I read the book again, intent on point of view.  I realized this book started in my hero's point of view and was very much his story.  The first time I heard Jeff's sample--it was NOT romance--I knew he had the right voice for the book.  Not only the right voice, but as an actor/narrator, he could perform the book.  That meant readers would be able to distinguish each character.

Jeff's professional approach to narrating--the telling of the story as well as the technical end--made this process easy.  This is one of my longer novels, so I listened and he edited as we went.  The quality of his audio production is impeccable.

So now let's learn a bit about actor/narrator Jeff Bower.


I grew up in the small city of Auburn, New York and was very active in the theatre community.


I graduated with a BA in Mathematics from Binghamton University and a MFA in acting from Florida Atlantic University.  I have been a professional actor for over ten years, having appeared in more than 40 theatre productions, numerous films and commercials, and Internet sketches.  I've also been lucky enough to have one of my plays published by Samuel French.  But my greatest accomplishment is my loving marriage to my wife, Ivelyn, for ten years this coming May.


I read all the time as a kid.  I went through many flashlight batteries as a kid, reading long after my bedtime.  I was a huge C.S. Lewis and Tolkien fan.  As an adult I have not been as much of a reader.  My wife is a former librarian and I have read many books on her recommendation but rarely choose a book for myself.  Now that I narrate audiobooks, I get to discover new novels and genres.


In college I did a sketch comedy radio show and had a blast.  Since then, I've always wanted to branch out into voice over acting.  After setting up my home studio, I discovered the possibilities and opportunities in narrating audiobooks.  I have been lucky enough to be contracted to perform 10 books in the last 6 months.


The length of the audiobook really determines the amount of time it takes to record and edit it.  It takes me a little longer to finish a book because my cat, Kayser, likes to sneak into my recording studio and meow while I'm recording.


I have a deep, natural speaking voice, so female voices can be very difficult for me.  Instead of raising my pitch, I focus on "lightening" my voice or putting more air around the sound.


This was my first romance novel.  When the opportunity presented itself, I was hesitant, but my wife encouraged me to audition and do the book.  It was a great experience and I look forward to doing more in the future.


I like to choose projects that are exciting and interesting to me.  Also, I am an easy-going, fun-loving, positive individual, and I like to work with like-minded people.  The tone and disposition the authors use in their correspondence with me during the audition process makes a big difference.

I want to say again how much I enjoyed the process of bringing WISH ON THE MOON to life with Jeff.  If you need a narrator, I hope you listen to his sample and choose him for a project.  You can learn more about Jeff and keep up with his career at

Hear a sample of WISH ON THE MOON or buy at:

WISH ON THE MOON Audiobook on Audible 

WISH ON THE MOON Audiobook on Amazon 

WISH ON THE MOON Audiobook on iTunes

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

©2014 Karen Rose Smith