Young Adult Giveaway Hop ~Win a Signed Book or an Audiobook!

Thursday, August 13, 2015


This hop is hosted by Book Hounds and runs from August 14th to the 21st.

To enter simply do ONE of the items on the form below.
Thanks for visiting my blog and good luck!

The winner will get their choice of:

A signed paperback copy of either Fractured or Forever with the vintage covers. (USA only)
Valued at about 9.99 each.
 
 
Or a free copy of Fateful or Fractured on audio (USA & UK)
Valued at about $20.00 each.
 
Give it a listen:




 
Give it a listen:



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Audiobook Production & Marketing Via ACX

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Converting readers to audiobook listeners one bookworm at a time...

"Yes, it's still reading, just more convenient." -Cheri Schmidt
 
Many readers think listening to an audiobook is cheating, that it's like watching the movie. But if the audiobook is unabridged, then it's exactly like the original book. The only difference is that the story has been lifted from the page and brought to life for you.

In this new market of audiobooks, we as authors need to connect with our readers and use those free codes that we get from ACX to introduce them to this new format.

Erin from WrathsQueensBooks is one of those readers for me. In this video, she is holding the original copy of Fateful that I sent to her a very long time ago, and she has now just enjoyed it on audio. Her very first audiobook. (I'm grateful to her for taking the time to listen to my story once again after having already read it.)


Audiobook Production Via ACX Q&A ~Part 1

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A series on audiobook production via ACX by Cheri Schmidt.

Here is Jason Downs and an extremely pale vampire—I mean me doing a Q & A for a writer’s conference. First question: How closely do you work together?

(Note: I’ve never recorded Skype before and really had no idea what I was doing. And I never really meant to post it to YouTube, but it turned out to be too long for the conference. I was aware of the box in the top corner, but was afraid of messing up the recording if I tried to get rid of it. It finally went away on its own and I don’t know why. I also knew the mouse arrow was on my shoulder, but was afraid I might accidentally minimize the program if I tried to move that too.)



 (Good grief! It was really hard for me to post that to YouTube...)
Cheri’s additional thoughts on this question...

I think how closely you work together largely depends on the author and how involved you want to be. But it is a creative collaboration, so perhaps more authors should be more involved. That doesn’t mean that you need to be nitpicky or annoying, though. That just means get to know each other a little so you can make the best decisions for the story, and better market the book after production is finished.

My guess is that producers and authors that have done a royalty share deal are more likely to work together closely during and after production, because they both benefit financially if sales are good.

Jason mentioned that he's had some authors who just approve the audio without making any changes, and I wanted to comment on that. I don’t know if all producers do it this way or not, but Jason would post chapters as he finished them. Either one at a time, or a few at a time. I couldn’t resist reviewing them right away, but I have heard of authors who don’t bother listening to the chapters at all. And then when it’s finished they wonder if they should listen to it or just approve it. I don’t think that is wise at all, and I was surprised to hear from Jason that some authors actually do that. Yes, producers edit their work, but things can still be missed by mistake. Just like authors need more than one editor, so does a narrator. With ACX, I feel like the rights holder is final QA, and if you don’t listen just to make sure there aren’t any random repeats still in there, you’ll make your producer look bad and that will affect his rating in the reviews. I have listened to audiobooks with repeats in the finished product and it always surprises me, because it wouldn’t have been all that hard to fix.

However, while reviewing the audio, remember that every change you ask for could cause a change in sound. So be very selective. I’ve heard of some authors who feel like that’s how they wrote it so the producer had better not change a single word! Oh please, sometimes that just happens when reading. But if it sounds natural and still makes sense, then leave it like it is. That will be better for sound quality. And you'll likely have a better working relationship with your producer if you're not a pain to work with.

Thanks for dropping by, and check back for more videos of this Q & A...

Audiobook Production & Marketing Via ACX

Monday, August 3, 2015

A series on audiobook production via ACX and marketing when the book is finished.
I recently presented at a writer’s conference about this, and I was the only author there presenting on ACX. I was limited on time for my class, and there just wasn’t enough time for me to cover everything. So I’m bringing that info to you via my blog and YouTube. I’ll cover everything thing I didn’t have time for and share the Skype interview with producer/narrator Jason Downs where he answers author’s questions.

Choosing a producer/narrator:
In this emerging market of audiobooks, marketing is key, and I would say there is a learning curve, because it’s different from marketing books in general. I suspect that’s because this is a slightly different audience. Your first and perhaps your biggest, marketing choice for the audiobook is choosing the right voice. This is also a creative choice. The style of the narrator needs to fit the style of the story. Your choice will make a big difference in the finished product, good or bad.

“The right narrator can bring a story to life in a way that nothing else can, can fully immerse the audience into the story, can make them feel the emotion in the words, and can make the author shine." Cheri Schmidt

Things to consider:

What point of view did you write the book in? If it’s female first person, then it would be best if you chose a female narrator. Recently, my husband has listened to a few books, and not indie books, where the story is told from a first person male perspective but the narrator is female. It really drives him crazy. This seems like it should be an obvious thing, but apparently it isn’t.

If it’s written in third person, how many male and female characters are there in the story? Looking at these numbers will help you decided if it’s best to go with a male or female narrator. For example, my Fateful Series, which is Paranormal Romance, has a majority of male characters. It is very difficult for a female to perform male voices. Many times they sound like silly caricatures. Plus it’s easier for a male or female reader to add greater variety in voices for characters of the same gender. While the majority of my characters are male, there is one scene where there are 6 females all together. I could tell it was almost a stretch for him to do all of those female voices at once and make sure they don’t all sound alike. He managed it extremely well, but to do that with an entire novel would be a problem.

If you’ve written the book in third person and you have an even number of male or female characters, should you choose a male or female narrator? When in doubt, go with a male narrator, even for romance... Or especially for romance. For Fantasy, Horror, Middle Grade, or Mystery male is usually a better choice every time... This is not the trend. I’ve noticed that many more books are narrated by female readers, and many of them are absolutely amazing! But most male readers have a greater range in their voices and can perform better female characters than females can perform males. I realized this is personal preference, but it’s a major turnoff for me to listen to a woman perform a male character that is supposedly hot. It just does not work. Most women that I know would rather have a male whisper a romance into their ear over a female. And most men that I know wouldn’t want to listen to a woman read an action spy novel to them, or maybe they would... I’m sure there are exceptions, but I personally wouldn’t market a book to the exception.

A few more tips to choosing the right producer:

Should you narrate your own book? If your book is on writing, or a story about your own life, and you know how to produce a quality recording, then yes. Otherwise, I think it’s best to leave the acting and production to the pros.

Choose a soothing voice. This is another reason you should go with a male reader if you can. Female voices tend to grate on the ear. Even so, the male or female voice must be one that readers can listen to for long periods of time. Nothing too harsh, tinny, or high-pitched.

Get outside opinions from friends, family, and fans. In my experience, authors get desperate thinking they won’t find what they want, so they go with whoever auditions. And authors tend to have bad taste when choosing their own narrator. It’s just a fact you’re going to have to swallow.

Listen to other work done by the narrator you’re considering. And I don’t just mean the samples they have in their profile. Buy one of the audiobooks they’ve done and listen to it. This is the best way to hear what the quality of their work is like.

Google their name. They’ll Google you before auditioning as they consider whether to work with you or not. This a great of way of discovering a little bit about the person you’re thinking about trusting your book with.

Don’t forget how much time and effort the producer puts into your book. It takes 5-6 hours worth of hard work to produce 1 recorded hour of finished audio. It also takes a great deal of creative talent. This is not like hiring an editor. Anyone with the skill can edit a book, but not every narrator can bring life to your story in the same way. On ACX you can choose to list your book as either Royalty Share or Paid per Finished Hour. Most authors want to do the Royalty Share so they don’t have to pay the narrator for their work, thinking royalties will cover it later. Sadly, many narrators are getting burned on Royalty Shares. If you want a quality narrator, it would be wise to list the book as Royalty Share OR a Negotiated Hourly Rate. We know the benefits of paying a professional editor to polish off our writing, so why would we then complain about paying a professional artist to produce our audiobook? And even if you manage to get an Audible Stipend like I did for Fateful, pay the producer even more than the $100 dollars per finished hour Audible pays. Happy narrators make for well-produced audiobooks...


Take care in your choice. You'll be working with this stranger to create a new product...a collaboration of talents.

Up next...my producer and I will answer a question turned in from other authors about how closely we work together during production and marketing via a Skype interview.

(I'll try to post a new article each week, or perhaps a bit more often so stay tuned!)

audiobooks-stagger - Copy

An Interview of a Vampire

Friday, July 24, 2015

the order coffee-name-banner - reduced - 700
 
An interview of a vampire from The Fateful Trilogy by Cheri Schmidt. Oh wait, I mean an interview of a werewolf. Oh wait, I mean an interview of a villain...
 
ENJOY!
 
(Told from Max's point of view.)
 
“Welcome, lovely ladies and dashing gents, whatever the case may be...” Max winks as he sketches a bow, his waves of brown hair tumbling down over his forehead. The knight shoves fingers through his hair to push it back into place as he settles into his chair. “Today, I have Lucas from The Fateful Trilogy here for an interview.” Max twists in his seat to face Lucas who is sitting in a comfortable chair in Beon’s drawing room at Order headquarters. “Welcome, villain.”

Lucas stares, or rather, scowls at Max before he says with a heavy note of annoyance in his tone, “Were you expecting me to cackle evilly, because it’s just not going to happen.”

Max shrugs his big shoulders and props one booted foot on his opposite knee, the picture of ease. Clearly not intimidated by the murdering rogue. “Shall we begin?” Max drops his gaze quickly to his notes.

“If you would get on with it, I’d appreciate it. I do have better things to do than sit here with you answering ridiculous questions.”

“Like what, exactly?” asks Max.

Muscles jump along Lucas’ jaw. His dark eyes narrow on the knight. His nostrils flare. “Are you talking about stupid questions you’d like to ask me, or what I’d rather be doing?”

“The latter, obviously,” responds Max.

“Proper mischief and mayhem...obviously,” answers Lucas smugly.

“What sort of mischief and mayhem? Be specific. Our audience is curious to know,” Max asks with an annoyed lift of one eyebrow.

Smirking evilly, Lucas locks his dark gaze onto Max’s in a threatening way. “I could be seeking time alone with Nadia so that I may get to know her better. She and I haven’t...chatted much.” The smirk turns to a leer as it seems Lucas imagines what harm he’d like to be inflicting upon Nadia.

Max comes back with a threat of his own. His lips thin, his fingers slip into his boot, and in the blink of any eye, he sends a knife at Lucas. The six-inch blade sinks into the back cushion of the chair Lucas is seated in, right next to his ear, barely missing the draw of blood by a thread.

The villain doesn’t even flinch. “Not bad for an old rusty knight,” Lucas says in a silky voice.

“I’ve spent most of my life dispatching miscreants like you.”

“We've digressed,” says Lucas dryly.

Max draws a measured breath and releases it slowly, apparently in agreement. “Do you have any hobbies the readers might not know about? Something uncommon, please, so don’t say rowing or shooting or steeplechase.”

Lucas pauses for a long time while scratching at his knee a bit nervously.

“Well?” Max presses. “You promised to be honest for the readers.”

“Fine. Crossword puzzles,” Lucas finally mutters angrily.

A mocking laugh escapes Max. “Do you also knit?”

Lucas frowns. “You insult me.”

“Every chance I can get.”

“You’re digressing again,” Lucas says. “Did you have any other questions for me? Perhaps something more relevant than what I do with my spare time, like what I do with my victims instead? I can promise you, the readers would be much more interested in what I could be, or rather, will be doing to Nadia.”

“Threaten my wife again, and next time I won’t intentionally miss.” Lucas doesn’t seem to have an answer to that, so Max goes on, “What made you like this, Lucas? What event in your life darkened your soul so much?”

“I think I was always like this, to be honest. ’Tis one of my best attributes.” Lucas says with a note of pride.

“Always evil, you say? Surely as a child—”

“I don’t remember much from my childhood. But what I do recall, it wasn't exactly pleasant.”

“Your father—?”

“Was not the nicest chap there ever was.”

“So you’re blaming your evilness on him, then?”

Lucas shrugs his shoulders. “I wouldn't be the first.”

“Now you’ve made me curious. Tell me more about your father, would you? What was it about him that turned you to a life of disruptive and violent behavior?”

“This is a massively insipid line of questioning. Next please,” Lucas says with an air of superiority.

Max rolls his jaw in an apparent effort to keep his anger tamped down. “Fine. Let’s just cut to the chase, hmm? First a vampire, and now a werewolf... What is it about being a monster that appeals to you so much?”

“It’s a bit cliché, but there is a great deal of power in fear.”

“So this is all about power?”

Lucas sighs. “Actually, no. It’s all about revenge.”

“Against Ethan,” says Max.

“Precisely.”

“Did I just hear my name?” Ethan asks as he enters with service for tea.

Max draws in a breath of air and his eyes land on the hot scones on a plate next to the teapot. Despite the fact that he was hungry, he eyes Ethan with unmasked curiosity. “What are you doing?”

“Helping you.”

“I don’t need help.”

“Then I’m simply here to offer refreshment.” Ethan’s gaze touches on Lucas and it was easy for Max to mark the lie.

“Really?” Max asks doubtfully.

“Of course.” Ethan starts pouring out. “I’ll be mother,” he said with a bright smile and a twinkle of mischief in his blue eyes. Intrigued, Max leans back into the cushion and watches to see how this is going to play out. “Fancy a cuppa?” Ethan asks Lucas pleasantly.

Lucas eyes the cup wearily. “Is it poisoned?”

A chuckle rumbles out of Ethan. “Would I poison you?”

“Yes. I believe you would.”

“What reason exactly would I have to poison you?” When Lucas doesn’t answer right away, Ethan asks, “One lump or two?”

Lucas folds his arms. The corners of his mouth slide downward. “Where’s Danielle? Isn’t she going to join our quaint little tea party?”

“No,” Ethan practically growls, straightening, the food forgotten...apparently. Ethan removes his glasses and sets them carefully on the table next to the tea tray.

The action was clearly not lost on Lucas as he also rises to his feet and pushes up his sleeves while muttering something that sounds quite a bit like, “Bloody twit is dead from the neck up...” but not loud enough for Max to be completely sure about it.

“Ethan, what are you doing now?” Max asks.

“Nothing,” Ethan shoves up his sleeves as well.

“Why did you take off your glasses then?”

“No particular reason worth mentioning, Max.”

Max rolls his eyes when Ethan throws the first punch and the two men brawl, spilling the tea, smashing the teacups, and breaking the table.

Max hadn’t noticed at first, but Ethan had ropes and a gag hanging out of his back pocket. As a bruise develops around Ethan’s left eye, and a trickle of blood oozes from his bottom lip, Ethan tightens the knot on the ropes now securing Lucas to the floral-patterned wingback chair.

Clearing his throat, Max folds his arms over his chest and shoots a curious gaze at Ethan. “Exactly how am I supposed to interview the villain with him bound and gagged like that?”

Ethan shrugs his shoulders. “Scone?”

Casting his gaze to the ruined food on the floor, he lifts an eyebrow.

Ethan’s face splits into a smile. “I’ve got fresh ones in the kitchen; this was poisoned, of course.”

“And you need a new pair of spectacles,” Max points out, trying not to laugh.

“Hmm,” mutters Ethan a bit sheepishly while spying his crunched eyewear in the mess littering the decorative rug. “Unfortunate indeed, since that was my spare.”

Want to hear what these characters sound like? Get the audiobooks  for only $1.99 from Audible after you download the Kindle copies thanks to Whispersync! Fateful (book 1) is FREE! And Fractured (book 2) is only 3.99!

An interview with Tristan Hunt, the narrator of Fateful.

Friday, April 17, 2015

An interview with Tristan Hunt, the narrator of Fateful. 

Portrait of Tristan was taken by Leslie Hassler.

If you're interested in enjoying his production of The Fateful Series, get a great deal on Fateful when you download the Kindle copy for FREE, and then get the audiobook to go with it for only 2.99!

(Update! That price has dropped to 1.99 for the audiobook!!!)
 

Note: If you've already downloaded Fateful, check for the available update under Manage Your Content and Devices on Amazon.
 
(Click on the picture below to get Fateful now.)

 
And now on to the interview... 
 
How do you decide what voice to do for each character?
The accent is usually obvious based on where the character is from but I really let the writing dictate how the voice develops... I let the writing inform me. Sometimes the characters' voice will come to me right away... other times I'll spend a few minutes feeling my way until I hit upon a certain timbre that feels right.
Do you ever find yourself feeling the emotion you're portraying? So if you’re reading an emotional part do you end up crying? Sometimes? Almost? Never? Too manly for that? Be honest. :) 

Absolutely! I love those moments and I try to leave them in the final edit if possible. Often, when I get emotional there are slurps or pops which prevent me from using it but I'll continue saying the line until I get a clean take.

How do you prepare for emotional or tense scenes?

Again, I let the writing inform me. Simply taking the journey along with the characters is enough to put you in the emotional state they find themselves in at any given moment... emotional or otherwise.

How do you manage to swap between different voices and keep them all straight?

Once I land upon who each character is and where their voice lies in me, it’s not too difficult to shift back and forth... especially when you have multiple personality syndrome, like me... myself... and I. :) Also, keep in mind that I have the luxury of editing. When Ethan has a line right after Danielle and then Max interjects, I can take a beat and breath to turn the switch in the mind and then go back and edit out the pauses.

How on earth did you get into narrating audiobooks?

I wanted to do something creative that I was in control of. I love storytelling and performing but the entertainment business, acting and auditioning etc, is mostly based on circumstances outside of an actor’s control. Yes, you can make sure your body and your instrument are it top shape at any given moment by consistently working out and taking classes and honing your skills... but as far as actually getting a job its completely out of your control beyond showing up to smile for the camera and do your bit. Producing audiobooks allows me complete autonomy and a creative outlet.

What is your favorite food?

I love a great meal but it's hard to beat Mother Nature's simplest, sweetest treats... like watermelon. For me, it doesn't get much better than a perfectly ripe and slightly chilled slice of watermelon.

What do you do when you’re not producing audiobooks?

I audition for film, TV and commercials... and sometimes book them... I work in production when a good job comes along... I'm a dad, which is a job I take seriously... I'm a husband, which is a job I should probably take more seriously... and I'm currently in a Pinter play, The Homecoming, at an Equity theater in Los Angeles.

How would you describe your narration style and voice?

My approach is akin to a movie in which I play all the parts... as well as narrate. :)

What is one thing most people don’t know about you? (That you’re willing to share.)

Besides my affinity for watermelon... one of my guilty pleasures is watching episodes of GLEE. Shhhh.

Is there anything specific you do before you start recording? A process? Or a routine? A good luck dance? Stretch? Crack you knuckles? Eat a cupcake?

My morning routine is the same everyday... up at 6:15 and head to the gym, take the kids to school at 7:30, cook two eggs and make some green tea by about 8 and then warm up my voice and start recording by 9.

Have you thought about starting a YouTube channel so we can watch you do the chubby bunny challenge? Or what about doing a daily vlog?

I can honestly say that the thought has never crossed my mind. In fact, I had to look up what a chubby bunny challenge was and it was quite funny... but not very enticing to me. :) A daily vlog is an interesting idea, but would people reeeeeaaaally be interested? Self-promotion has never been my strong suit but I know it’s becoming more and more necessary. I suppose I'd better get with the program!

What is the best way to contact you so we can tell you how awesome you are? (Facebook, website, blog, Twitter?)

Most kind. :) Yes, you can visit Tristan Hunt on Facebook! (I just opened the account... late to the game, I suppose.)

What types of characters have you done so far? Was there one that was particularly fun for you to perform?

I played a character in a book called the Gorgon... all about knights and ladies... who had a stutter and I quite enjoyed it for some reason. I enjoy most of the characters I play... especially if they're saucy or evil.

Do you have children? Do you have pets?

Yes, two... a boy and girl... and a fish named Turquoise.

What is your favorite genre to narrate and why?

Romance is what I'm hired to do the most... and what I'm well suited for. And I especially like period pieces.

Do you have a favorite accent to perform?

A snotty elderly British woman.

Is there an accent you can’t do?

Many. Although 'can't' is not the word I would choose... I would say that there are many I simply haven't had the time to study and perfect as of yet.

What is the funniest thing that happened while recording?

Usually when my son sneaks in and starts listening and then wants to record something as well... he's quite a character himself so we get a kick out of listening back to what he's done.

Do you have a favorite narrator? Who inspires you?

Mm, there are so many great ones. I'm a Harry Potter fan and Jim Dale did an amazing job with those books. Simon Vance is also one of the best out there. Sissy Spacek did a version of To Kill A Mockingbird which is SO beautiful. And my daughter is listening to Kate Winslet doing Matilda which is absolutely stellar.

Thank you, Tristan, for taking the time to answer these questions and let us get to know a bit more about you!

Visit Audible for more samples of Tristan’s work. (US or UK)

Reviews:
Which character – as performed by Tristan Hunt – was your favourite? Danielle's uncle Nick, there was a part where he was telling a story and Tristan spoke in such a perfect tone that even I felt shivers. If you could sum up Fateful in three words, what would they be? Emotional, beautiful and soulful. If you prefer audio books then get the first book right now, narrated perfectly by Tristan Hunt. Definitely a 5 star rating from me. ~Beks

What does Tristan Hunt bring to the story that you wouldn't experience if you had only read the book? I loved the way Tristan brought Max's character to life in exactly the way I imagined it. Tristan told the story in a wonderful hybrid of watching a movie and listening to a friend that was easy and comfortable with the perfect amount of expression and performance... So beautifully written and performed that I shed a tear or two. ~Leanne

Impatient? Listen right now:

New Cover for Fateful Giveaway

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hello my darlings!

I need your help! I've been working on new covers for my books, but I can't decide on the one for Fateful. I love them both for different reasons. Please take a look and then comment to let me know which one you like best and why.

Here are the choices: (Click on the image to see it bigger.)


Soft Sepia (A)
Soft Pastels (B)

To sweeten the deal, lets have a giveaway! Post a comment for your choice and then enter on the Rafflecopter form below.

Prize Choices: (Winner will be able to choose one.)
 
~Danielle's Fairy Necklace as described in Forever and is. This necklace is handmade from antique brass findings and chain from VintaJ. The aqua crystals are real Swarovski faceted beads. The center drop is a pale aqua, 8mm, Amazonite bead. The beautiful antique brass bead in the back is so pretty you can wear it backwards for two different looks. This Victorian design is unique and will be a piece that people will ask where you got it from. Valued at $29.99. (Note: The three-way connector in the center will be slightly different, seems I can't purchase that one any longer, but the replacement is equally as nice, if not better!)
 
~OR~
 
~An audiobook copy of either Fateful or Fractured as produced by Tristan Hunt (AKA Jason Downs) from Audible, valued at $19.95-$24.95.
 
(Listen to the samples right now. ;) This prize is available to USA and UK customers.)
 

Hurry!!! This giveaway only goes until Thursday!
And remember that your choices are Soft Sepia (A) or Soft Pastels (B)
a Rafflecopter giveaway