Tag Archives: audiobooks

Spotlight Series: Kristi Alsip

Spotlight Series logoToday is the launch of a new feature on the blog where I plan to spotlight artists from all different mediums: vocalists, actors, musicians, painters, etc, as well as authors. It’s called the Spotlight Series (original, huh? 🙂 ) and over the course of the next few months I intend to showcase creatives from all sorts of disciplines (and nope, I don’t have a set schedule for when I’ll post them–just like most of the blog’s entries, it’s pretty much gonna be a random event). Yay, random!

And now, on to the inaugural Spotlight…

photo of Kristi AlsipThe first artist in the Spotlight Series is someone I’ve had the good fortune to work with: voiceover artist, actor, and vocalist Kristi Alsip. She recently narrated the Leine Basso thriller, BAD TRAFFICK, and totally nailed the main character’s voice (see sample below). Leine Basso is a former assassin and I wanted her voice to be strong and confident, but not to come off as a hard-ass. Plus, the narrator needed to be able to do several accents (Russian, British, male, female, etc.) and Kristi was definitely up for the job. I was delighted to find out that in addition to doing voiceover work Kristi fronts two bands and acts in and directs a mystery theater company. I love acoustic rock, blues, and soul (her band, Crawford’s Daughter covers several of my favorites) and I would probably be at most if not all of her gigs if I lived near Chicago. Here’s her bio:

Kristi Alsip is a vocalist, actor, and voiceover artist from the Chicagoland area. Kristi earned her B.A. in theatre and human services from Millikin University and spent several years on the Chicago theatre scene. Most of her creative energy the last 15 years has been spent fronting bands, although she still makes time to act and direct in the murder mystery company, The Mystery Shop. She formed her own rock/blues/soul band, Crawford’s Daughter (the name derived from a random line in the film ‘Mommie Dearest,’) and is also a lead vocalist for the group Moonlight Cocktail which covers disco, Motown, and current tunes from artists such as Bruno Mars and Adele.

Kristi spent several years doing commercial voiceover work and was amused to find herself frequently getting sent up for the “Peri Gilpin type” (Roz from ‘Frasier.’) She has been heard in regional and national radio spots for Walgreens, Killian’s Irish Red, The Plane Dealer, Scrubbing Bubbles, and McDonalds. Just last year, Kristi began to branch out into audiobook narration and has lent her voice to several publications. Until now, most of her credits are of the memoir and self-help genres. Kristi recently completed work on her first book of fiction, the mystery thriller Bad Traffick (Leine Basso series) by DV Berkom and had an absolute blast!

Kristi currently resides in the Chicagoland area and is blissfully fortunate to share her time with the love of her life, Frank, and her two ridiculous Wheaten Terriers, Draven and Angel.

D: When did you first realize you wanted to be an actor/singer?
K: I was always a movie buff even as a little kid, although I didn’t get into typical ‘kid’ movies. I loved horror films and anything with Jack Nicholson. At about 7 or 8, I really got into singing and gravitated towards soul, rock, and blues. (I had a Shawn Cassidy record player with attached microphone and wore the hell out of it!) At the time, I especially loved Diana Ross, Olivia Newton-John, and Barbara Streisand. In an attempt to look like them, I begged my mother to let me get a home perm. Unfortunately, I ended up looking like Roseanne Roseannadanna on SNL. Super glamorous.

D: What prompted you to get into voiceover work?
K: About 14 years ago, I was doing a play in Chicago and the director was also working as a voiceover agent. She took me to dinner one night and asked if she could represent me. I recorded a commercial demo, began auditioning, and learned as I went along. Last year, I branched out into narrating audiobooks.

D: What’s your favorite part of working in a creative field? Least favorite?
K: I would have to say my favorite part of working in a creative field is having the opportunity to take all the experiences you gather and emotions you have as a human being and do something productive with them. Growing up, I was a little shy, so getting to get out there now to express myself is both challenging and rewarding. My least favorite part would be the auditioning process.

D: Where do you see yourself in five years?
K: Working/recording from home, continuing with commercial and audiobook work as well as booking more gigs with my band Crawford’s Daughter. My next goal is to get back into acting and branch out into film. I’m in the beginning stages of collaborating on a screenplay, so we’ll see what transpires.

D: What would you like readers of this blog to know about you?
K: I have an INCREDIBLY fantastic support system of family and friends that are always there at shows and gigs and ready to purchase audiobooks the minute they go on sale…which I think is pretty great considering I’m the only one in my entire family tree that sings or acts or is in any kind of creative field. I always joke that I’m the apple that fell off the family tree into another yard. 🙂

D: Thanks for being here today, Kristi! Good luck with everything, especially the screenplay 🙂 Here’s a sample from Kristi’s work on Bad Traffick:

***Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win a free download code for Bad Traffick from Audible!

 

<><><>If you know someone who you think deserves to be highlighted (even if it’s your fine self), I’ll be accepting suggestions for the Spotlight Series through the end of June. Just email me at dvberkom8[at]gmail(dot)com with information about the artist (whether it’s you or someone you know). It’s at no charge to the artist and will give them some exposure they might not get otherwise, and I get to meet interesting people and have cool stuff on the blog. Total win-win!<><><>

 

 


Writing Process Blog Hop

The End BookToday I’m participating in the Writing Process Blog Hop, where you’re tagged by a fellow writer to answer some questions. In turn, you then profile 2-3 other writers to do the same.  The person who tagged me is the inimitable and always classy Charlie Ray (http://redroom.com/member/charles-a-ray). I interviewed Charlie a while back on Awesome Authors. You can blame him for what you’re about to read 😀

Question 1: What am I working on?
Currently I’m brainstorming scenes for the third as-yet-untitled Leine Basso thriller. It’s like old home week as I figure out which direction Leine and Santiago’s relationship is going to go, how to integrate Leine’s new line of work into the story, and re-introduce characters from previous books (if you liked Yuri’s uncle, you’ll enjoy this installment), all while keeping the suspense and action building throughout the book. Beginning a novel is all deliciousness and unicorns and mimics the first blush of infatuation: everything’s awesome and the possibilities are endless. Yes, I know that will wear off at the first hint of trouble, but as long as I blow something up I should be okay 😀

CFD_Cvr_2_200x300I’m also working with two different audiobook narrators: I’m excited to report that Melissa Moran has finished CRUISING FOR DEATH and the book is now in ACX’s capable hands.  Melissa also recorded the KATE JONES THRILLER SERIES boxed set and has been a lot of fun to work with–she has Kate’s idiosyncrasies down pat. Look for it in the next few weeks.

Kristi Alsip is in the process of recording BAD TRAFFICK, and I can’t say enough good things about her work. When I first heard her voice I KNEW she would make a great Leine Basso and, from what she’s done so far, she’s nailed it. Once the audiobook’s completed it will go to ACX’s sound engineers for approval and should be available next month.Night traffic

Question 2: How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I write thrillers, and there’s an expectation on the part of thriller readers that the books will be fast-paced and have a lot of action. Of course, I LOVE writing action scenes, so that’s no problem. What I think I do a bit differently is incorporate suspense and action and a likeable, kick-ass-but-flawed heroine with humor. One reviewer put it this way: “The humor serves as good balance to the fear and anxiety that [the character] freely expresses in the face of her predicament, providing a sharp and refreshing contrast to the typical stoic, grim-faced male hero of the thriller genre.”   Another difference: my female characters aren’t superheroes–in fact they are all too human–but they aren’t helpless women who need a man to save them, which is a particular pet peeve of mine. Why would I want to read about a woman who doesn’t know how to get herself out of trouble and who waits for the alpha-male to “save her”?  Yes, I have strong men in my stories, and yes, they help the heroine out occasionally, but I try hard to write female characters who are plenty capable themselves and know their way around a weapon. And explosives.

Question 3: Why do I write what I do?
DVBerkom_YucatanDead_200Growing up, I loved reading spy novels and watching James Bond movies, but always yearned for books and movies that had a female equivalent in the lead. When I caught the novel-writing bug I thought why not write what I’d want to read? My first female character, Kate Jones, went through several incarnations, moving from a smart ass Jeep tour guide in a humorous mystery to the current thrillers where Kate grows into a capable and dangerous enemy. She’s still a smart ass, though.

As for the Leine Basso novels, SERIAL DATE was in response to a twisted dream I had about serial killers and reality shows, and I needed to find a character to write who could go toe-to-toe with one of them. An assassin seemed perfect: they both killed people. The dynamics of having one of the characters (Leine) question her motivation for being a hired assassin and whether that made her different from a serial killer intrigued me. The second novel, BAD TRAFFICK, was in response to watching a documentary on child sex trafficking and I knew I had to write Leine into the story. I was torn though, as SERIAL DATE has quite a bit of dark humor and satire, and I wanted to try to keep the tone consistent in each series (okay, it didn’t work with Kate, but at least I tried). There’s nothing humorous or satirical about human trafficking, so the tone in that book ended up being more of a straight thriller. There’s still some humor, but only in Leine’s smart ass reactions to specific characters. Hmm. Do I detect a theme here?SDBookCover170x260_3_11_13

Question 4: How does my writing process work?
First, I clean my house. Really. My husband loves this stage, since I’m woefully challenged in the domestic arts. Then I sit down with a notepad and paper and draw a timeline across the top of the page, putting little hash marks at the beginning, 1/4 point, midpoint, 3/4 point, and two near the end, labeling them: inciting incident, 1st turning point, midpoint, 2nd turning point, black moment, resolution. Then, I set to work brainstorming scenes, moving them around on the timeline to see where they fit. If I have trouble coming up with enough scenes to start writing, either I trash the idea, or I ask my husband and writer friends to help come up with scenes. Once I’ve got a good sense where the story’s going, I sit down to write (I use a computer and MS Word). I’m pretty linear, so I go from chapter to chapter, editing a bit as I go, until I reach the end. During this first draft stage, every two weeks I send sections to my critique group for their suggestions. Then I do a read through before sending it out to a dozen or so beta readers. While I’m waiting for their responses, I catch up on all the stuff I ignored while writing. Once the betas get back to me, I do one more read through incorporating many of the suggestions, and then send it off to my editor. At that point I usually have the title, so I work on the book’s description and then send that info off to my cover designer. Once I get the edits back I incorporate them, do another read through and publish.

Now that I’ve bored the bejeezus out of you all, it’s time to give a shout out to the writers I picked to continue the blog hop. All three are in my writing group and all are published in some form of romance (I’m the token heathen who doesn’t write in that particular genre). We’ve been friends for years and yes, I know where the bodies are buried. We’ll leave it at that…

Darlene Panzera writes sweet, fun-loving romance and is the winner of the “Make Your Dreams Come True Contest” sponsored by Avon Books, which led her novella, THE BET, to be published with Debbie Macomber’s FAMILY AFFAIR. The full length novel, re-titled, BET YOU’LL MARRY ME, released December 2012 and her bestselling series, THE CUPCAKE DIARIES, released its first installment in May 2013. Born and raised in New Jersey, Darlene is now a resident of the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her husband and three children. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her family and her two horses, and loves camping, hiking, photography, and lazy days at the lake.

Jennifer Conner  is a bestselling Northwest author who has published over forty works. She writes Christmas Romance, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance, and Erotica, and has been ranked in the top 50 authors on Amazon. Her romantic suspense novel, SHOT IN THE DARK, was a finalist in the Emerald City Opener, Cleveland, and Toronto RWA contests. She lives in western Washington in a hundred year-old house, blows glass beads with a blow torch (“which relieves a lot of stress and people don’t bother you…”) and is a huge fan of musicals.

Chris Karlsen is a retired police detective who writes time travel romances populated with 14th century knights, and thrillers featuring a nautical archaeologist and Turkish agent. She spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. The daughter of a history professor and a voracious reader, she grew up with a love for history and books. She has traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and Northern Africa satisfying her passion for seeing the places she’s read about. A Chicago native, Chris has lived in Paris, Los Angeles, and now resides with her husband and five rescue dogs in the Pacific Northwest.

If you have a minute, please stop by and visit their blogs–they’ll be posting their own answers to the above questions next Monday. Have a great week!


ACX, Audible, and Audiobooks–Oh, My!

ES-IN17These past few months, I’ve been having a blast producing audiobooks for my novels. I’d been thinking about doing it for a while and can’t remember exactly what the catalyst was now, but I currently have two books available with two more in production, and plans for at least two more by summer. Since I’ve been fielding questions from fellow writers on the process, I thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve learned along the way. (At the end of this post I’m giving away 3 copies each of both audiobooks, so if you’re interested, make sure you stick around—you may just win 🙂 )

Question #1: Which company did you use to make the audiobook?

I used ACX.com, a subsidiary of Amazon and couldn’t be happier with the process. It’s free except for the time commitment and pretty darned easy. The hardest part for me was picking the narrators from all the auditions. My only caveat would be that if you’re looking for that radio mystery theater kind of recording with sound effects and different narrators acting out the voices, you’ll need to use another company. ACX is an exchange that works to bring together narrators and writers to produce straight audiobooks. Usually, this means one narrator per project. On occasion you’ll luck out and get a husband and wife team working together, but one narrator is the norm.

Question #2: How long does it take?

Depends on the narrator. Usually, it will be anywhere from 3-8 weeks. For Serial Date ACX attached a stipend of $100 per finished hour payable by ACX to the narrator, with the requirement that it be completed within 60 days. My narrator, Jim Kilavey, rock and rolled and had it done within 3 weeks. He’d produced several audiobooks previously, so knew the process. Once the book is completed and you approve the recording, ACX does their thing (engineering, quality control). It takes them about 3 weeks to approve the book. Once approved, the book will be available for sale on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes .

Question #3: How do you choose a narrator?
First, you need to provide an audition script, which means you upload an excerpt of your book for narrators to read. Try not to upload too long of an excerpt—five minutes worth is plenty. I made that mistake with Bad Traffick by uploading much too long of an excerpt (didn’t realize it at the time). Even a 5-minute audition requires a lot of work, so keep that in mind. It’s easy to re-upload an edited excerpt, though. And don’t just use the first couple of pages of the book. Find an excerpt that has dialogue between main characters. If you have a lot of action scenes like my books do, include something along those lines, so the producer/narrator can show you how they’ll handle it.

Once you’ve decided on an excerpt and made the book available on ACX, you can search producer (a.k.a. narrator) clips to find the perfect voice and send them a message asking them to audition, or a producer can upload an audition during the audition period if they’re interested in working on the book. If ACX attaches a stipend, you’ll probably receive several auditions. This makes it a bit harder to choose, since many of the producers on ACX are professional voice-over artists. Either way, it’s fun and kinda surreal to hear different interpretations of your work.

Question #4: What if you don’t like the producer’s work? Can you change narrators?

This is where you’ll need to be careful. The contract has a kill-fee stipulation once you’ve approved the first 15 minutes. If you’re doing a royalty-share (more on that later) the kill-fee is $500 plus any expenses incurred by the narrator up to that point. If you’re doing a one-time payment to the producer, then it’s something like 75% of the total the narrator/producer would have received for the completed work. Be sure to work with your producer and make sure you’re completely satisfied with their narration before you approve that first 15 minutes. The producers I’ve used have been easy to work with, so any glitches or mistakes were easily rectified. If either of you don’t like the way it’s playing out (before you approve the first 15), then you’re both free to stop production with no penalties. If that happens, you’ll need to open up production for auditions again.

Question #5: What does it cost? How do you get paid?

I decided to go with the escalating royalty-share (50% to ACX, 25% to me, 25% to the producer for the first 500 units sold. Royalties increase after that). That way, there were no upfront costs other than my time. You can also pay the producer an hourly rate which is typically between $100-200 per finished hour (pay-for-production) and allows you a 50% royalty. For example, if I’d chosen the hourly rate, The Kate Jones Thriller Series, Vol. 1 would have cost between $860-1720 (8.6 hours x $100 or $200). Another reason I did the royalty-share is so that the producer/narrator has an incentive to promote the audiobook.

As for payment, ACX pays monthly via either check or direct deposit (US banks). If you opt for direct deposit, the breakdown of titles sold shows up in the mail a couple of weeks later. And, you don’t have to wait 60 days for payments like you do with Amazon.

All in all, it’s been a lot of fun to hear my books read back to me by professionals.  I’ve gotten emails from readers who prefer audiobooks and are happy to be able to listen to Kate and Leine’s stories while commuting to work, which is the best, most satisfying reason to do this. Another obvious reason is that audiobooks are an added revenue stream in addition to print and e-Books. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t do this when I first heard about ACX.

I’m happy to answer questions, so feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best. If I can’t answer it, then at least I can point you in the right direction.

Now, for anyone who would like a chance to win a free audiobook, there are two ways to win:

1.) sign up for my free newsletter (I send out maybe 3 newsletters a year, so no spam, I promise) to be automatically entered to win, or,

2.) leave a comment below with your email address and you’ll be entered that way. You can do both and get your name in the ‘hat’ twice, if you’d like 🙂

I’m giving away 3 copies each of Serial Date and The Kate Jones Thriller Series, Vol. 1 this Saturday (February 8) and will contact the lucky winners by email. Good luck!

***UPDATE: We have winners! I’ve emailed instructions for a free download to djsgcampbell, nadams1291, wegmglan, lizzy79, ransue92, and girltoyjaz! Thanks for playing, everybody 🙂

 


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