Novel Publicity Blog Tour: “The Author Mindset”

Good evening, readers! I’m back with a book review today for Novel Publicity by Falcon Storm: The Author Mindset. The version I’m reviewing is the audiobook narrated by Craig Beck. Much as the cover suggests, the book is a guide to writing and marketing fiction.

Because the book is the first of its genre I’m reviewing, it won’t follow my usual review guidelines/format. If you’re up for the adventure that might entail–and I promise, it’s worth it–read on. 😉

[Disclaimer: As with all my book reviews for Novel Publicity Blog Tours, I was provided with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.]

Available NOW on AmazonBarnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, or Audible.

About the Book:

Do you feel as if your life’s purpose is to become an author and share the stories in your head with the rest of the great wide world? Do you long to write the next great American novel? You might already have a couple books under your belt, but want to take your productivity, talent, and marketing efforts to the next level. Maybe you’re just getting started as an author and feel lost in the multitude of tasks awaiting you. Or perhaps you’re stuck at square one, having no idea what to do, where to go, or even if you should be writing at all. In just a few short hours, you’ll learn the essentials required of the professional author. You’ll learn more than how to put words on the page; you’ll learn how to get into the mindset of an author and live there, carving out your niche in the literary world.

Review

The Author Mindset is an excellent introduction to the business of writing and lifestyle of being a writer. It’s short but sweet–the main section is only 66 minutes long, but it comes with extras, too. I was amazed at how much of the training I received in my grad school Writing & Publishing program was encompassed in this book.

The length makes the book necessarily to-the-point, which is wonderful to get writers actually writing, versus stuck in heady theoretical prose. The style is breezy, approachable, and never arrogant, which I appreciated, as it was written by a successful author. The length and voice of the book recommend it to multiple listenings and note-taking.

Speaking of voice, the narrator was an excellent choice. Who doesn’t love a good British accent? 😉 Seriously, I’ve learned the narrator is almost as important as the text in an audiobook. So, well-done, Mr. Storm (and, Mr. Beck–call me).

There were a couple of sections that I found to be a little unnecessary, personally, like how to organize your work space, but–for all I know, a full-time stay-at-home mom/part-time writer might find that info to be very helpful (there are specific mentions of navigating little ones). This book, much like many writing guides, is definitely subjective in how enlightening each person would find it to be. I would say absolutely everyone could get SOMETHING out of it, even if it was review. Although I had heard many of these topics before, given my educational background (but not the same professional experience!), it was quite helpful to hear them again, especially as condensed and digestible as this presentation was. If nothing else, it is a good tool to get anyone into “the author mindset” (keenly titled, Mr. Storm!).

I 100% recommend this book for anyone who hasn’t had some sort of training in writing. I do recommend it to everyone, though, especially those who could use a jump-start in knowing how to begin or how to resume writing . I could see how this would especially be useful as part of a series, which this looks to be. Great idea, Falcon, for making this book available in multiple formats; how great is it that you could listen to this on your commute so you’re all prepped to write when you get home?

My review, based on this as an instructional piece: 9/10.

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Top Ten Tuesday: 13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You’re Reading

Happy Tuesday night, readers! Because our weekend energy has officially worn off, but our love for reading can never be quenched (even with book reviews like the one I did yesterday–check it out if you haven’t), Bad Things are more prone to happen whilst we read than on the weekends.

I thought this list by Doubleday on Buzzfeed did a perfectly hilarious job of illustrating this concept. I think we readers can relate to most of these, although perhaps in less dramatic ways (only slightly less, for #1). [My personal thoughts are interjected in pink in brackets.]

1. You spill your coffee.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

Via tumblr.com
[Seriously. I have a reputation at work, even with my “spill-proof” mug.]

2. Your subway car gets crowded.

Your subway car gets crowded.

Via flickr.com
[Hopefully, someone has text on the back of his/her shirt around you to tide you over, trite or vulgar as it may be.]

3. You still have to go to work or school.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

Even though you JUST GOT TO THE BEST PART!
[Seriously. Book hangover? Sometimes, I walk into work with a British accent from an audiobook and catch it just in time–so far.]

4. Your favorite character dies.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

Via socialsamosa.com
[This is terrible. I need at least 10 minutes by myself to collect myself, and even then, only pictures of Oreo keep my chin up.]

5. Your bookmark falls out.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

Via lh6.googleusercontent.com
[The worst! I NEVER fold corners, though I know I’m unusual on this one.]

6. Your favorite author’s new book is a total flop.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

Via static.fjcdn.com
[
Even the best of us writers need an editor who will stand up to us…]

7. You have to go to the bathroom…

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

and you’re in public so you can’t take the book with you.
[eBooks on a mobile phone? Just saying. Don’t sweat it, Ralphie.]

8. Papercuts

Papercuts

Via wordpress.com
[
Battle scars, my friend.]

9. You Discover A Missing Page

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

Via runningoffthereeses.com
[
Or a scratched audiobook disc that NO ONE saw fit to mention in the “damage report” to the library…really guys, where were you raised?! When this happens to me, I can’t move on without finding an unabridged copy. You might miss the best part!!]

10. Someone tells you the surprise twist ending.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

Via tumblr.com
[
I get really emotional about this. I literally scream “NO!” at least once, usually three times, and stomp around (right, Jennifer? <3). What has been spoiled cannot be unspoiled. It’s kind of like if a fortune teller told you how you’d die without your asking.]

11. You start to get car sick on a long trip.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

Via tumblr.com
[Also terrible, unless you’re alone, in which case–audiobooks!]

12. You left your book somewhere.

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

[Or it happens three or four times with the same book (1984), and you resign yourself to never finishing it. You can’t bear to be the executor of such mistreatment.]

13. You have to wait for your friends to finish a book so you can FINALLY talk about it

13 Worst Things That Can Happen While You're Reading

[Yes! Although, I’m guilty of this, too. Jessie has been begging us both to read Allegiant, and I know it’s torturing her…sorry, dear. ❤ I have such a long TBR list!! She’s a voracious reader, even during a full-time college schedule, and she outpaces me every time! A good one to have on my reading superhero team. 😉
Sometimes, when I’m waiting for someone to read a book, I even have to ask the friend to summarize plots again for me by the time s/he gets around to it, since my mind is already deep into another book.
But, one of the many wonders of the internet, and WordPress especially, is that it is a ready huge network of fans of every book imaginable.]

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I hope your week is full of lovely reading and minimal disasters, dear readers! Join me this Thursday for a special reflective post on my 7th anniversary of a miracle that changed my life forever–the day that started a journey of not only surviving my traumatic brain injury, but also learning about true strength and love. I promise it will be a happy post. 🙂

Happy Birthday to You (Two): Ray Bradbury & Claude Debussy

This Thursday marked the birthdays of sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury and impressionistic composer Claude Debussy, two of my favorite artists.

I must confess something truly embarrassing for such a dedicated sci-fi fan like myself: I only recently discovered Bradbury. During my speculative fiction writing class at DePaul, there was one day of our class that everyone was in mourning: Ray Bradbury had passed away. Everyone was really upset, and we spent a portion of class time discussing his influence. I knew the name, but honestly, besides the short story “There Will Come Soft Rains” (a short story excerpt from The Martian Chronicles), I had never read him. I kept quiet, because I sensed this ignorance might very well invalidate my status as a sci-fi fan–but I did add him to my “to read” list.

A few months ago, I finally got around to listening to the audiobook for Fahrenheit 451. Every single person I talked to couldn’t believe I’d never read it before; apparently it’s a high school curriculum staple. I quickly discovered why.

I was so excited when I found one of my favorite books with an intro by one of my favorite authors! Read Gaiman’s touching memorial to Bradbury on his own blog here.

I’m almost not sure where to begin when I talk about how much I love Fahrenheit 451. It’s one of my favorite books of all time. It has a timeless quality to it, seeming more relevant now than when it was published in 1953. The action, plot, and content still cause this classic to be banned even now, let alone in the conservative 50s. But so many important, revolutionary ideas are controversial, and it’s often a badge of honor to be put into that category now.

So why do I love it? I was immediately drawn in from the very first chapter. The language was like candy to me, every word vivid, creative, and evocative. Every image had a purpose, and I found myself longing to jump into the story. I kept rewinding again and again to hear favorite quotes that still stick with me (one of the only inconveniences of audiobooks!). There’s so many good ones, but here is one of my favorites:

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
― Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451

I also love the story on a plot and character level, too. I will try not to be too spoilery, but my favorite parts might give away a little. However, as I seemed to be the last person on the planet to read this book, hopefully it won’t matter. 😉 Montag is an interesting, appealing character, and his development through the course of the book is fascinating. He becomes a righteous, noble, imperfect hero, as lovable for his ideals as his flaws. Yes, so lovable that I still pine for him as a top literary crush.

This is not me but it could be (with Montag).

THIS PARAGRAPH HAS SPOILERS, so skip it if you haven’t read the book yet. The only things I wanted “more” of were some of the other characters, namely, Clarisse. She was one of the most interesting characters in the whole book, yet she had minimal coverage, other than being “ignition” (pun intended) for Montag’s change. I also wanted more of a conclusive ending; I actually thought I was missing a CD from the audiobook when it ended. I felt left hanging, on the brink of the most exciting part yet. However, with what we are given, we can definitely derive an emotion, which I’m sure was Bradbury’s goal: hope. [/END SPOILER]

In my research for this post, I was ECSTATIC to discover there was a sequel of sorts: a video game of the same title, released in 1984, to which Bradbury contributed heavily. Although I doubt a playable version is readily available, this website plays a video walkthrough of the whole game, just over an hour long. I can’t wait to watch! I’m really happy Bradbury worked on this, because otherwise, I don’t think I’d be able to watch it. This book has become so sacred to me that I don’t even trust any movie adaptations to get it right, something I’ve never felt with any other book. It is such an intricate balance of language and emotion and action, glued with wonder, that I feel it’d be easier to spoil than get right. But I will gladly, heartily participate in other levels of fandom:

Fahrenheit 451 T-Shirt

Now, it’s even easier to display my intense admiration of this book, with this treasure I found exclusive to my favorite bookstore, Anderson’s Bookshop.

Google commemorated Debussy’s birthday by dedicating their homepage to him with a beautiful video. When you clicked “play,” the button floated away as a balloon and the song “Clair de Lune” played. A nighttime turn-of-the-century river was the backdrop for the adorable animation of people finding each other, with lights flickering in time to the music. I was captivated. It’s a special song for me, one that my dad and I have always loved. The Washington Post (yes, the newspaper from my previous post) wrote a great article about the video, praising it as a surprising and poignant cinematic direction for team Google Doodles. Although the song has been a favorite of mine for years, TWP taught me of its origins: “Debussy, like fellow French composer Faure, himself found inspiration in a countryman, Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine, and his 1869 collection ‘Fetes galantes.’ The poet even seems to beckon musicians with the lyric: ‘Their song blends with the light of the moon.’” Maybe that’s why I’ve always found the song so transfixing; it captures the majesty of the night, ripe with poetry and music (I’ve always been a night owl myself; you can’t time inspiration, I say). It’s interesting to see yet another layer of adaptation added: scenery–>poem–>music–>video, now, all-in-one. Google’s homepage changed at midnight, but luckily, the video has been added to YouTube, and many articles have been written about it.

How lucky we are to have all the great works these talented artists have left behind for us. If you haven’t experienced them yet, I hope you get a chance, soon.

Happy “National Book-Lovers Day”

National Book Lovers Day (courtesy of Chicago Now)

I hope you all are enjoying your Friday night, but in case you’re not, I’m going to share a reason to celebrate: it’s National Book-Lovers Day! If you spent your Friday night reading, it doesn’t mean you’re uncool; it means you’re festive (and awesome. And like me.) And now, to up the cool factor just a little bit more,

The cool factor is so high
(image courtesy of http://sf.funcheap.com/)

please enjoy reading about the joy of reading.

It seems no one in the world (…wide web) knows where the origin of this holiday came from, and some are even upset to the point of questioning its legitimacy. (I’m not kidding, but I’m not going to post the rant I found. There are better things to read on this day.)

But you won’t find me questioning it. Despite my college career of literary research and journalism, I find myself ready to embrace this holiday blindly with open arms…full of books.

Embracing the mania
(image courtesy of Silver Lake Elementary School)

Of all the articles I read today about the holiday, I think Nick Mangione’s piece on MSN was the best and most hilarious. His photo gallery has a great combo of images and captions. This is the introduction:

“Today is the happiest day of the year, and we don’t mean Christmas. It’s National Book Lovers Day, and that means today is our own very special almost-holiday. Yeah, we’ll admit it. We love to read, and we’re guessing more than a few of you are in the same boat. A good book can take you to places you’ve never been before. It can make you laugh or cry in public and nobody around you will know why. Because they weren’t there. They didn’t know Boromir like you did; they only saw the movie. People say you read too much, but you just shrug it off. You know it’s impossible to love books too much.” — By Nick Mangione

I knew I was hooked on this gallery from the first image, because of the sentiment it captured so perfectly, and also because this is my favorite movie ever. This scene takes my breath away, and I think Lumière hit the nail on the head with this gift suggestion to the Beast. Take note, gentlemen.

Still of library from ‘Beauty & the Beast’ – yearnisk via Tumblr

“Plans for your future home always include this library.”

Yes. In fact, this is the only room I’ve planned out. Maybe this will be my whole house. I do insist on a rolling ladder I can sing on while browsing.

This next image made me very sad–again, the caption captured it perfectly. I wanted to share this one, too, just in case you didn’t get the reference in my audiobooks post.

Burgess Meredith in the ‘Time Enough at Last’ Twilight Zone episode – mannyblacque via Tumblr

“This was the most heartbreaking moment in television history. (Even though you’d already read the original story.)”

I like to think that maybe he was next to a record store that stocked audiobooks, or a gemologist that had magnifying glasses. Someone please write this cheery sequel, for the sake of all our broken hearts. </3

Let’s bring the mood back up. This is a celebration, after all. This next one’s caption is funny and true.

Woman removes books from a shelf - gemini-dragon-gifs media via Tumblr

“This is how you pack for vacations.”

Yes! This is usually my most stressful decision about packing. I’ve resorted to bringing paperbacks only, now, even if I’m in the middle of a hardcover. I should probably get an eReader. 😉

Open book with text overlay – introverteddork via Tumblr

“When your friends talk about movies they want to see, you’re like…”

Yes, I’m definitely a snob with this. Except that the people who get really excited for the movies in the early stages tend to be the people who read the books already, so we just practice this line on each other to be prepared for the impending mania. And then we see the movies, too. My latest snobbery is “City of Bones”; Jennifer, Jessie (Jeremiah’s sister), and I are all practicing, as well as planning to see it opening weekend. 😉

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tribute to this most worthy holiday. Please do your funny bone a favor and read through the whole gallery I posted these excerpts from. It’s short, I promise, so you can get back to reading your books very soon. 🙂

Audiobook Month & History of a Reluctant Aural Fanatic

This  Sunday, June 30, marked the end of several official things–but that doesn’t mean it needs to be the end of your celebration. End of the weekend? Carry that relaxed feeling into the work week! (Easier said than done?) End of June–but making way for that fun midsummer month, July!

As the last day of June, that means it is also the end of Audiobook Month. But if you’re like me, that’s something you celebrate every day all year! The Audio Publishers Association explains the campaign to increase popularity of audiobooks here.

As you may have gleaned from past posts, I LOVE audiobooks. In fact, they comprise the majority of my reading time these days. I listen to them whenever I’m in the car, be that my commute to work, a trip, etc. They sure make construction more bearable and epic.

Transform from this…

Embed from Getty Images
…to this, with the help of an audiobook!

In thinking about my love affair with audiobooks, I tried to remember when we first crossed paths. Although I mostly use audiobooks now during commutes and working out (OK, the latter activity is much less often than I’d like), I knew my history started long before that.

Hearing stories aloud is integral to the beginning of not only our personal development, but also the development of human culture. This fascinates me as a reader and a scholar of English literary history. Stories were told orally earlier than we can confirm–because there is no record of it, of course. 😉 Beowulf is widely regarded as the bridge between oral and written stories in English, hypothesized as having first been passed through generations orally before being written down. This is indeed a possibility, as storytellers back then made lines rhyme for memory purposes. (Think of the first stories we memorize–they are nursery rhymes. We memorize aural sounds even before we understand the story. The aural memory reinforces our development of story comprehension.) The poor translators have the additional task not only of translating Old English to Modern English, but also of making the lines rhyme and staying true to the meter as much as possible. Old English is not Shakespeare’s English; it is the Anglo-Saxon language that was in use around the times of 400-1100 A.D. It is entirely foreign to those without training, as you can see below. But with our understandings of nursery rhymes and aural memory, it is easy for us to imagine the importance of meter in ancient stories. Even so, to memorize something so epic in length is quite an impressive feat!

The original image of the Beowulf manuscript (via Wikipedia)

Many of us are lucky to have parents read aloud to us. For me, it’s one of my favorite memories. Our parents used to read to my sister and me all the time, and it was the only way they could get me to agree to go to bed. 😉 I’m sure it had an impact on our imaginations and love of reading from a young age.

Our dad made a video of himself reading to Jennifer (left) and me so we could play it while he was out of town for business and not miss him as much. <3

Our dad made a video of himself reading to Jennifer (left) and me so we could play it while he was out of town for business and not miss him as much. ❤

I also realized I used to listen to audiobooks all the time as a kid, with the help of this guy.

The one and only Teddy Ruxpin ❤

For those of you not in the know, Teddy Ruxpin was an electronic teddy bear who read stories off of a cassette tape that accompanied printed books, for kids to follow along. But after his mouth stopped working (I’m sorry, Teddy </3), I was left mostly to my own devices, no pun intended.
Actually, puns are always intended with me.

In mourning the untimely demise of Sir Ruxpin, I parted ways with audiobooks for a long time. I rented one in high school to “read” a book last-minute, but I discovered at 4 a.m. that night that this particular reader did not expedite my process. (One…of…those…slow…readers…you know the type.) 😉 I decided audiobooks would never be the same without Teddy. 😦

And then, in 2005, I sustained a traumatic brain injury. (If you’re new to my blog, you can read the basics of the story on my About page or Memoir Preview post.) Part of the injury included slower processing speed and multiple nerve palsies in my eyes. The palsies caused double vision, and I couldn’t see anything clearly at all, at first. Remember that Twilight Zone episode where the man has all those books and all that time but broken glasses? Now I had time off of school, but couldn’t see, at least, at first. But my story, luckily, had a happy ending. As I began to recover, I was able to start reading, albeit not conveniently. This is what reading a book was like for me:

Double vision makes reading challenging! The lines were all overlaid on top of each other--each eye was like a separate camera that wouldn't converge.

Double vision makes reading challenging! The lines were all overlaid on top of each other–each eye was like a separate camera that wouldn’t converge. I’ll never forget exactly how it looked: overlaid and askew.

What the text above looks like to normal eyes. (Do you like the Beowulf theme?)

What the text above looks like with normal vision (and my eyes now). (Do you like the Beowulf theme?)

Eventually, I was able to see a single image if I held it up to the tip of my nose (and then farther and farther away as I recovered). I read the entirety of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked with the pages touching my nose. I probably just looked engrossed, which was also true. It was the first book I read after my TBI; it and the musical really inspired me and showed me that being different is not only okay, it’s what makes you extraordinary. (I watched the musical with a patch over one eye, and Jennifer and I got special seating near the front–it was magical, in more ways than one!) I was determined to force myself to read in the traditional way, with a lovely paper book, and of course, with my nose so close to the pages, it was a constant aromatic treat, as well. (I wish they made a perfume of “new book smell.”) I wanted the pleasure of reading on my own; not someone else reading to me. However, after I got LASIK eye surgery two years ago, there was no pleasure in even keeping my eyes open, let alone reading–so I decided to give audiobooks another shot with the longest one I could find at the library. Perhaps the nearly 53-hour, 41-disc unabridged The Count of Monte Cristo was a little ambitious for post-surgery entertainment; I never did finish it.

Jennifer had a different idea after she got her LASIK: she asked me to read to her. She would call out, “Read to me, Seymour,” in reference to the plant in The Little Shop of Horrors. I’d never seen it, but I recognized the tone of urgency. I looked up pictures to post the namesake here, but true to the name, it is pretty horrific, so I’ll let you Google that yourself. 😉
We had both just read The Hunger Games for my fabulous children’s/YA literature class with Alix Reid at DePaul, which opened up, or reopened, a whole new genre to me–and now, it is my favorite genre both to read and write. Jennifer and I were both hooked on dystopias, and I went to our local library to ask for suggestions. They recommended Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer, an apocalyptic YA novel. At first I recorded myself on a computer, but it turned out Jennifer wanted a live performance–and perform I did. One thing I remembered about being read to, and hearing audiobooks, was when people did voices, and I did not want to disappoint. The main character, especially in the beginning of the book, sounded like she needed to have a “valley-girl” voice to go with her diary narration (despite her being from the East coast). After some verbal rotten tomatoes from Jennifer, I learned my lesson not to do extreme voices for exposition, which comprised about 75% of the book. (Click here to hear an example.) It’s not that the book was bad; it’s just how I heard the main character in my mind.

After a few days of reading until I lost my voice (usually about two uninterrupted hours at a time), I insisted that Jennifer switch to audiobooks. However, we both read traditionally after our eyes healed, until I started my new job. I began encountering horrid construction every single day, no matter what route I took, which made my journey take as long as two hours occasionally. Even blasting Taylor Swift or classical music couldn’t quell my frustration for long. “If only I could use this time to read,” I thought. Lightbulb! I began to check out several audiobooks at a time from the library, to make sure I was never without one. (I do recommend renting them when you can, since they can be expensive–worth it for favorites, but a costly gamble when you’re not sure.) It turned my route from frustrating to epic, as illustrated above. I eventually convinced Jennifer to join my fulfilling commuting habit by recommending my favorite at the time–and I think it remains my favorite.

The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer, read by Chiwetel Ejiofor. Click to go to Amazon and hear an excerpt.

In addition to being an amazing book, the voice actor does a wonderful treatment of the text. He is grave when he needs to be and light when the story calls for it. Somehow, he manages to do all different accents perfectly throughout the story, even when switching between characters in the same scene. (You’ll see why there are so many different accents in the same scenes when you read the book–I don’t want to spoil it!) I absolutely loved this book and reading; I thought it did a terrific job of bridging younger and older audiences seamlessly, and I had the pleasure of telling the author himself when he came for a book signing to a local bookstore recently. I also asked him when he’d be writing a sequel for this book, and he sighed in his hilarious way and said more people would have to buy copies of this one first before he’d be allowed to write a sequel. So start buying, people. 😉

City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare, read by Ari Graynor. Click the image to go to Amazon to hear an excerpt.

While Jennifer loved The Supernaturalist–indeed, she’d read the book in the past, but wanted to hear the audiobook–her personal favorite is City of Bones. I loved it, too. The reader is just right for this text–sassy, direct, emotional (when called for). I’m not sure she’d fit with a more “gentle” book, but this one was the perfect fit. The readers they have for the sequel books are also good. And if you haven’t read this one yet, you definitely should before the movie comes out, according to Buzzfeed and many other articles I’ve read this summer. (The movie looks AWESOME, but I can already pick out a few differences from previews.)

Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman, read by Mandy Williams. Click on the picture to go to the Amazon site to hear a preview.

Another favorite! I loved Mandy Williams’s quiet, steady reading of this book. It really matched the feel I got from the main character. All of it was perfectly lovely; even the horrifying parts were achingly beautiful. I felt so connected to the titular character and her world. The sequel is coming out next year, and I can’t wait!

Enchantment

Enchantment, read by Stefan Rudnicki and Gabrielle de Cuir. Click on the picture to go to the Amazon site to hear a preview.

This is the audiobook I’m listening to right now, and it’s already becoming a favorite. The book switches among many different points of view, and it’s an interesting technique. I definitely think it helps to have the dual narrators, especially of different genders, in order to differentiate breaks in P.O.V.

One audiobook I can’t believe I’ve never heard is anything read by Neil Gaiman. I’ve devoured his books reading them traditionally, but I’ve never heard one on audiobook. Because he’s one of my absolute favorite authors (perhaps favorite ever), I know I’d be very picky over how I felt his work should be read. There’s such a cadence in his language that makes the words as much a pleasure to read as the story itself. I have heard some of his videos on YouTube before, and his voice is very nice, so I’m sure his own narrations would be great. Actually, a radio production of Neverwhere was recently broadcast on BBC Radio 4, which I tragically discovered only after the broadcast was taken down. I hope it will be available for purchase/rental very soon; the cast included Benedict Cumberbatch and Natalie Dormer, two of my favorites–I’m sure it was phenomenal!

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these favorite audiobooks I’ve posted are among some of my favorite books, period. A great voice can’t save a bad book, but a bad voice can ruin a good book, I’ve realized. A great voice + a great book makes for an amazing experience. Jennifer learned this earlier than I, when I valley-girl-read Life as We Knew It to her (it was only a few seconds at a time before I went back to my normal voice, which was of course hoarse from reading aloud for hours). I realized it the hard way when I forced myself to stick with a fantasy classic that a reader made WAY too dramatic. Every syllable was a different tone; when the main character was running, he wheezed through the sentences; when something was funny, you could barely understand him through his own laughter–which of course made it not funny at all. I’ve realized that you can’t let the reading/performance get in the way of the story–and isn’t that a lesson that we’re taught as writers, too? So often I’ve been guilty of that in the past, where a main character’s voice will overpower the story. It’s something I still have to watch out for, to this day. And if I am fortunate enough to publish something to audiobook someday, I know I will be very picky as to whom the narrator will be.

Speaking of audio versions of my own written work–as I mentioned in my “Noir–Poetry on the Radio” post, one of the neatest things I’ve gotten to do as an author was to read some of my work on DePaul’s radio station, which included a fairy tale and three poems I’ve written. The radio hosts invited me to read and discuss a whole hour of my own work. Click here to listen. If you’d like to hear just the fairy tale, it’s approximately the first twenty minutes. If you’d like to hear just the poetry, it’s near the end–the “Noir” blog post will instruct you where exactly to listen for that. I’d already experienced audiobooks by this time, so I was afraid to be too dramatic with “voices,” but I think if I were to do this again in the future, I probably would differentiate them a little bit more.

I hope you enjoyed my tribute to Audiobook Month. Even more so, I hope you will continue to enjoy audiobooks throughout the year. Besides myself, my sister is the only one I know personally who regularly listens to audiobooks, and I’d like to increase awareness of this fabulous medium. Why not make your adventures of shopping, commuting, and working out a little–or a lot–more epic? I’d also encourage people with visual challenges to use audiobooks; technology makes these books wonderfully accessible.  Swords and dragons not included with CDs, but you have your imagination for that. 😉