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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Author Guest Blog & Contest with Maria Lima

I have always loved Maria Lima's Blood Lines series! Not only are they amazing but they have a Welsh twist to them. So when Maria asked me a few years ago to help her with a few Welsh words I was extremely happy to help as much as I could. I don't speak fluent Welsh but I am a born and bred Welsh gal and have learnt my fair share of the language over the years.

Then Maria contacted me last year about her audio books. I was shocked and quite surprised to learn that she was narrating her own books! Now I have listened to enough audio books to know that it can't be easy to read a book (sometimes over 10 hours long) but I hadn't heard of an author doing the job themselves.

So I asked Maria to come on the blog again and tell us the story of how it all happened! Anyone who listens to audio books will find this interesting and people who haven't yet taken the time to try the Blood Lines series may just pick them up!

Make sure you read all the way through and enter the contest! Maria is giving away one of her books to one lucky person!


In the first grade, my teacher and I would work together in a special one-on-one class as I learned to speak English. One of the tools we used was a reel-to-reel tape recorder. I don’t remember much about the lessons, but I do remember that one of the notes on my report card was how much I enjoyed working with the recorder.

Little did I know that my inherent love of technology would eventually lead to me recording my own audiobooks some forty-some-odd years later. Did that early exposure help lead me to it? Who knows. It didn’t hurt that I was equally as fascinated by how entertainment gets made: music, TV shows, movies all throughout school, so much so that my major in college was radio, broadcast and film, with an emphasis on TV/Film production. Hands on classes only helped solidify my love.

So when John Betancourt at Wildside Books talked to me about doing an audiobook contract via the indie arm of Audible.com, ACX, I agreed immediately. Did I know then that I’d end up being the narrator? Not really. I’d envisioned auditioning voices and picking someone out. Only, it didn’t quite work that way.

The project was up at ACX for a while and, though narrators were auditioning, no one was right. Enough so that John didn’t even forward any auditions to me for a long time. A friend of mine offered to audition. She’s got a great voice, but still, not quite what I was looking for. Finally, John sent over an audition that he thought was good. I, however, immediately ran in the other direction. Seems that his internal ear and mine were completely at odds.

I finally realized that the voice I heard in my head for Keira, who is the 1st-person protagonist of the series, was so very clear, so wholly envisioned, that I had to do this myself. I girded my mental loins, did a lot of reading and research on how to use GarageBand, what the specs were for recording for ACX, how to create an at-home studio (since I couldn’t afford to rent a sound studio). There were definitely some hurdles, but none insurmountable.

I quickly signed up as narrator and, working with John, did all the official online paperwork to assign the projects to me.

Then came the hard part. Oh, I knew how to read aloud. In fact, I had some voice-over training during college and am not afraid of the microphone. Only, I didn’t really grok just how much work it was to record it right. You know, with no errors, with the right inflections, etc. Then after that, there’s the QA process: re-listening to what I did and making sure there aren’t any weird, extraneous noises in the background, like the cat sneezing (which seems to happen just when I’m about to finish an emotional paragraph). The file needs to be cleaned up and then mastered, something I was a total n00b at. Sadly, GarageBand doesn’t have mastering capability. Mastering, for the unitiated is basically taking the raw audio and creating the final mix, balancing the high and low sounds.

Thank Google I found a lovely online app that did the work for me. It’s a bit tedious, but it’s simple. Each chapter, which is recorded separately, is mastered, then uploaded to ACX. After this, the publisher reviews and accepts the file. Once the entire book is done and uploaded, then ACX folks review and accept and voila, at some point within 2 to 3 weeks of your finishing, the audio book is for sale.

The main lesson I learned? I knew enough to be dangerous. I didn’t know enough to realize just how much work this was going to be. For every hour of finished audio, there’s probably another 2 to 3 hours of work just on the recording part. This isn’t counting all the hours of research, review, restarting my process.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. I know how the words are supposed to sound. I know the exact inflections, what to emphasize, how to pronounce the Spanish, what the various accents sound like. And, thanks to the lovely Amber, who provided me with the exact pronunciations of the Welsh words and phrases, I can make a darned good attempt at the Welsh.

Matters of the Blood (the first book in the series) is now available via Audible.com and iTunes. I’m nearly done with the initial recording round of Blood Bargain (book 2) and then, it’s on to the rest. My goal is to finish all the books by October. It’s been a blast, even though it’s been hard work. Heck, I’m even considering looking for other books to narrate!

~Maria Lima

Blood Lines Series

#1 - Matters of the Blood
#2 - Blood Bargain
#3 - Blood Kin
#4 - Blood Heat
#5 - Blood Sacrifice

Maria Lima on Amberkatze's Book Blog


Contest Details!

Maria is hosting a reader's choice giveaway. The winner gets to choose any one of her books. So you can start the series, continue where you left off or finally get a copy of the last installment!

How To Enter

Any good audio books you want to recommend? Any you want to try? Do you think authors should read their own books for audio versions? Discuss ;)

No Answer = No Entry

'Please enter me' posts will NOT be counted as an entry

Earn more entries for each link you place about this contest on the net. You can post on Facebook, Twitter & MySpace but make sure you add links here for me to confirm your entries! However please do not make individual postings for each entry. Please post all your entries in one post.

Advertise Amberkatze's Book Blog on your site and get an extra entry for this and every other contest!

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You can also earn extra entries by emailing your friends about the contest. Just make sure you send a copy of your email or receipt to me at Amberkatzes_book_blog at gmx dot net.

Make sure you post your links here so I can confirm your entries.

Keep the contests going by using the Bookdepository.com and Amazon.com links/Banners below and around the site.

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

The contest will stay open until 4pm on Sunday 17th June (Central European Time) and the winner will be picked by a randomizer. Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners and will pick new winners for any prizes not claimed within 7 days.


felinewyvern said...

I've never heard an audio book (unless Jeff Wayne's War of the World counts?) but I think the idea of the author reading it is wonderful.

As Maria said, she knew exactly how her characters talked and felt, so she was bound to be the best one for the job of narrating the book.

felinewyvern at googlemail dot com

Victoria said...

The only audio books I have are FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT by Darynda Jones and CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare and both are wonderful.


molly.frenzel said...

I've never listened to an audiobook, but if I had to choose one to start with, I think I'd listen to Shades of Grey by E.L. James.


Barbara E. said...

I haven't listened to any audiobooks, but if I ever go on a long road trip I'll definitely be trying one. I actually have a couple that I'll try at some point. I think it's awesome that Maria is doing her own, who better to know how it should sound than the author.

Barbed1951 at aol dot com

Diane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diane said...

I have all the Nalini Singh books on audio, the reader is wonderful and I can picture the characters with her voices. Same for the Grim Reaper series by Darynda Jones; also have most of the In Death series on audio, love them. I have many more since it takes me close to an hour to work then one back I listen to audiobooks. But none of them are done by the authors themselves and that's fine with me.

dsadler53 at yahoo dot ca

sienny said...

i wanna try a historical romance with scotish hero/heroine. really curious with their brogue :D


Mary Preston said...

The only audio books I have listened to are for pre-schoolers. I must try some for grown ups.

I don't know if it would work with all authors reading their books. I'm thinking male/female & accents. I think for some it would be brilliant.

miki said...

i've never listened to audio book, i'm tempted too but i can't find some here so perhaps one day but i'm a bit afraid to be disappointed too

i guess that when the author is the one to read it it can be better because he( she) knows the characters really well

i would be very happy to win the first book of your series to discover it

all the best


books first love said...

Ohhh yes I have some suggestions.
Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher is a very moving book and the audiobook is better- seriously the actors reading it were so great.
Also I looooved Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green audiobook- was amazing!!!

Also, more on your favorite genre, The vampire academy- was my first series that I listened to. The great series ever on this genre :)

I have a link for you : https://twitter.com/missandramary/status/212196283589472256

And liked your FB: Andra Mary
thanks for the giveaway, like always awesome.

Aurian said...

I really can't listen to audiobooks, they drive me nuts, I can read much faster by myself. But my best friend really loves listening to them, especially on long drives. And I have heard that the JD Robb books are really good.

auriansbooks at gmail dot com

follower, subscriber etc.

Stephanie said...

I've never listened to any audiobooks, but I'd like to try the In Death series.


clynsg said...

I have never utilized audio books, so am definitely not the one to suggest any, good or bad. Think I will stick to print (either paper or electronic), at least as long as my eyesight holds up. As with so many things, there are pros and cons to having an author read their own books. They would certainly know what was being presented by the plot, and therefore could give the appropriate intonation/emphasis/whatever. But I keep thinking of the transition of movies from silent to talkie--not everyone has a voice that can do justice to what is being read, no matter how well they know it.

cgclynsg0 @ gmail dot com

koddabear said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
koddabear said...

I like audio books when I'm traveling. I also listened to a lot of them with my cousin who had MS. I've listened to a lot of good ones as well as bad ones. Only one read by the author and that really was quite bad.
One of the best audio book series I've ever listened to was the Harry Potter books read by Jim Dale. He reads the entire book and has a different voice for each person in the book. I could just visulize these people talking.
I hope I win so I see how your audio turned out. Thanks for the giveaway koddabear1@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I love audio books in the car. I really enjoy the Twilight series. I would love to hear Stephen Kings's 11/22/63. Thanks for the giveaway. Tore923@aol.com

Anonymous said...

I like the audio book "One for the money" read by Lori Petty.

It would be nice to have a book read by the author him/herself, but not every author has a voice for reading. Sometimes it's best to have a professional actor do this, since they (should) have trained voices.

Bella said...

I've listened to Twilight and New Moon on audio books. I'm looking forward to hearing Sense & Sensibility on audio book -- I'm getting that in 2 weeks. I can't wait to hear all that old time English read aloud so I can see that I was pronouncing everything right in my own head! lol

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Barbara said...

I haven't listened to an audiobook...yet. However, one that is narrated by the author seems like a GREAT place to start! Thx for the giveaway op! :)

barbbattaglia @ yahoo.com

off2europe2005 said...

Some authors know when to emphasize special points in their books, so yes they should do their own books
Off2europe2005 at yahoo dot com

Sydney said...

I would definetely recommend the audiobooks for harry potter series.took the ball game to a whole new level.I would like to try the audio book version for vampire diaries by L.J.Smith if they are available.Its a novel idea to Have the authors do the audio version of their own novels for they are the best judge to know the characters intimately and they can give more depth and emote each individual correctly thereby enriching the readers experience