Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My year in audio books...

It seems like only weeks since I last did a New Year’s post - 2013 has whizzed by!

In terms of audiobook narration, it was a busy year, with a lot of variety - here are some of the highlights!

In January I recorded “Frost Burned” by Patricia Briggs – a terrific series and a great start to the year! I followed that with a couple of retro titles for AudioGO* – “Bloodshot” and “Burn Marks” by Sara Peretsky. It was great to be back in Chicago in a time before cellphones. :)

And of course I couldn’t let the year get too old before getting my Charley Davidson fix – loved recording “Fifth Grave Past the Light” by Darynda Jones. I adore this paranormal series.

It was a blast from the past doing a couple of Jeffrey Archers – “Shall We Tell the President” and “The Prodigal Daughter”. I’d done the abridged versions years ago, and it was fun to go back and do the unabridged.

I was lucky enough to record the latest in the Rose Harbor series by Debbie Macomber – “Rose Harbor in Bloom”. And as a bonus, there was a Rose Harbor short story: “Lost and Found in Cedar Cove”. Great fun!

Although I was happy to record another Darynda Jones, I was sorry that “Death and the Girl He Loves” is the last in the Darklight Trilogy. I loved that series – especially my name-baby, Lorelei. :) I’ll always be grateful to Darynda for naming a character after me!

A year simply wouldn't be right without a Stephanie Plum adventure, and "TakeDown Twenty" was - as Janet Evanovich's stories always are - a blast to record! My life wouldn't be the same without this crazy, loveable cast of characters.

And of course I did some work for the digital publishing company I own with Ali Muirden, Creative Content Ltd. I was very excited to narrate (and publish) “Emerald City” - first in a new crime fiction trilogy set in Seattle, featuring rock journalist Laura Barton. It’s written by the talented and prolific Chris Nickson. Look for the second title in the series, “West Seattle Blues” in 2014.

I ended the year as I started it – with another Patricia Briggs: “Night Broken” (publishing March 11, 2014). Such a great series – love recording it.

I am so very grateful to be able to do something I love. I thank you for listening and would especially like to thank those of you who’ve taken the trouble to write, tweet, Facebook message and email to tell me when you’ve enjoyed a title. That’s what keeps me going!

I hope you all have a fabulous 2014!

* Some of the saddest audio news this year was the closure of AudioGo - a great business that produced many wonderful titles. They will be missed.

Photo by John Wolfe under a Creative Commons license.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Christmas gifts for the voiceover artist in your life...

Wow! I can’t believe Christmas has come around so fast! As is becoming a tradition for me, I have a few gift ideas for the voiceover artist in your life.

First of all – a sound machine! This is a great gift for around a tenner that will bring out the big kid in your VO and let him or her have hours of fun playing with sound effects. There’s a library of machines to choose from, including ‘classic’ sounds (drum rolls, applause and so on), ‘horror’ (you can imagine), cartoon and sci-fi (I want that one!). 

Sore throats are an occupational hazard, so your VO might appreciate some honey to keep things lubricated – honey is a go-to remedy for VOs. You could get a nice collection of small jars of honey, or if you’re lucky enough to have a local beekeeper, get some honey from your area.


T-shirts are a good present, and I’ve seen some cute ones around. And these earrings are super-cute.


Or if you want to be REALLY different, what about a tattoo parlour gift certificate?


But my absolute favourite VO present this Christmas is this great microphone hat, crocheted by Lianne Berploudest as a custom piece for voiceover artist RichardHeathcote.  Who wouldn’t love to find this under the tree!

Hope your Christmas is gorgeous....

Friday, 30 August 2013

Drink up!

Doing any kind of voice work takes stamina, and any VO artist will tell you that it’s crucial to keep hydrated. Water is your best friend – hot or cold, whichever you prefer.

But what about other beverages? Here’s my opinion on a few:

Coffee: I love my morning coffee, but make sure I have my daily cuppa(s) and then brush my teeth BEFORE I get to work. See my photo (taken at The Sound Company, London) for the reason why! If you MUST have a cup at work, brush your teeth afterwards (or rinse your mouth out really well) and drink some water.

Tea: I never use it, so can’t really venture an opinion – but I imagine it is similar to coffee, particularly if you take it with milk. Speaking of which...

Milk: Really, just don’t. In my opinion, nothing makes you claggier.

Fizzy drinks/soda: I used to rely on Diet Coke for an afternoon boost – that extra shot of caffeine was just what I needed! I’m weaning myself off it now. I think having a soda during your lunch break can be okay – but beware of the burps later!

Juice: This can give you a much needed blood-sugar boost when you’re flagging – but follow it with a glass of water and a good rinse.

Why is it so important, you may ask? It comes down to one thing: TIME which converts to MONEY. You’re a professional - don’t make the job harder for your client! Nothing drives an editor crazier than having to nip out loads of extraneous mouth noise, smacks and clicks. Be a ‘clean’ VO.

Oh! I almost forgot one!

Wine/Beer/Spirits: I think you know the answer to that!! But after you’ve finished recording for the day – enjoy! - Lorelei

Monday, 10 June 2013

Just the thing for Father's Day....

Love this as a Father's Day present for any voiceover dads out there - a necktie made from audio tape!

You can actually play it!


Read more about it here!

And happy Father's day! - Lorelei

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Breaking into audio books...

I'm often asked about breaking into audio book narration on Facebook and Twitter - so, in case it's useful, I'm reposting something I wrote for Creative Content awhile back...

One of my tweeps (if you're not following me on Twitter, please do! @loreleiking) recently asked me if I thought voiceover classes and seminars were a good idea - which got me thinking about what it takes to be a voiceover artist and the best way to get started, particularly in audiobook narration.

I should say that I have nothing against voiceover training - I'm sure some of the classes, particularly the ones that provide you with a showreel, can be useful - but these courses are very expensive. I would suggest that, before investing so much money, you do some legwork yourself.

First of all, you have to be brutally honest with yourself: Do you have the raw material?

Is your voice easy to listen to?

I don't think you necessarily need a 'beautiful' voice to be a voiceover, but you do need to have a tone that doesn't make people want to put a pillow over your face and hold it down 'til you stop kicking.

Are you willing to look after your voice?

This means, first and foremost in my opinion, not smoking. I know some voiceovers do smoke - and whereas the 'smoker's voice' may work for some ads and movie trailers, smoking makes it MUCH more difficult for audiobook narrators to have the stamina and versatility required (see below). You may get away with it for awhile, but if you want a long and varied career - ditch the coffin nails. Looking after your voice also means not straining and screaming too much, even if you're rooting for the Steelers. It means taking care to warm up the voice, as you would any muscle (by the way, we have a free, downloadable vocal warm up on our Creative Content website).

Can you read more fluently than anyone you know?

This is particularly important for narrating audiobooks. You have to be able to 'read ahead' and to understand immediately the sense of what you're reading and be able to bring it out with your stresses and inflections. You have to be able to read without stopping and starting or hesitation. If you can't, you're unlikely to get very far. It's all about the bottom line, and audiobook producers want fluent readers who need (a) less time in the studio (expensive!) and (b) fewer hours of editing (also expensive!).

Do you have stamina?

Audiobook narration requires a surprising amount of mental strength and physical stamina. You have to read with the same conviction and energy at 5.00 pm as you did at 10.00 am. The voice shows everything: fatigue, boredom, tension, frustration. You have to find ways to keep yourself going when you don't feel like it.

Is your voice versatile?

Different audio publishers may have different 'house styles' - for example, in my experience, UK publishers prefer more heavily-characterised reads, whereas US publishers like narration to be 'straighter' - but, particularly if you're narrating fiction, you need to be able to differentiate between characters, and therefore should be able to at least approximate different genders, ages and accents.

If, hand on heart, you think you can meet all these requirements - great! In future blogs, I'll point you toward some free or low cost ways to get yourself prepared before deciding to invest your hard-earned cash in an expensive course. (Again, I'm not saying you shouldn't do these courses - but do what you can on your own first! You either won't need the course, or you'll get even more out of it, having done some of the legwork yourself!).

If you don't meet all of the requirements (and good for you for being honest with yourself!), I'll be blogging about ways you can improve your performance in these areas.

I'm excited! And I'd love to know how your journey is going...

Photo by elhombredenegro