Posts Tagged With: public domain

Audiobook Week 2012 – Picky, Picky…

Welcome to Audiobook Week – Day #4 here at Going Public!


AudiobookWeek2012 pictureRecap: Monday through Friday of this week, I (Xe) will be posting new Going Public content and blog posts in conjunction with the wonderful audiobook promotional effort of Jen at Devourer of Books. Need further info on Audiobook Week? Pop over to here and check out all the wonderful content flowing in from bloggers all over the cyberverse. For earlier posts, please see below or the “Audiobook Week” posts in the side bar.

For info on the Triple-Threat Giveaway, scroll to the end of this post.

Thursday’s discussion topic: What do you look for in a narrator? 


[Disclaimer: these are my thoughts purely as a listener – NOT a narrator. Just so’s we’re clear :)]

Hello. My name is Xe, and I’m a picky listener. 

It’s true. I’m a terribly picky listener when it comes to audiobooks. I’m a bit merciless really. As a listener, I usually give an audiobook about 15 minutes to engage me. Many would say that is unfair (including me!), but I find that listening, like the way I experience any art – poetry, prose, paintings, music – is a completely intuitive process for me. Let me explain.

Regardless of the artform, when I catch my first glimpse/words/note, it needs to affect me on a visceral level. I literally need to feel it physically. If there is that connection, I’ll keep looking/reading/listening. Does this mean it’s good or bad by anyone else’s standards? No – it’s a very personal assessment on my part.

So how does this translate to a new audiobook, to what I need from the narrator? It means that in the first 30 seconds or so, I need to feel a connection with the narrator’s voice – the way they sound, the way their voice feels in my ears, whether it resonates or clings or grates. This is entirely subjective – there is nothing the narrator can do/not do that will change this impression – nor should they. I’m listening for a connection to who their voice naturally is.

Once that connection is made, I give the narrator about fifteen minutes (I mean, I don’t time it or anything) to move beyond that initial “crush” on their voice. Now we’re into delivery. I want natural. I want conversational. I do not want “staged.” What I originally said (earlier today) is that if I can hear that you’ve done stage acting in your delivery, it will annoy me. But that’s a bit too off-the-cuff and does a disservice to stage actors who transition beautifully to narration. Here’s what I was getting at: I know that narrators are hammered on enunciation and diction, but I don’t want to hear pristine words – I want to hear the story. But although it might put me in the minority – I want to hear it as close the way you normally speak as possible with the text at hand. Be my storyteller, not my actor.

OK, so the delivery is conversational, and the audiobook is still playing. Now what? Ah, now we get to dialog. Can’t tell you how many times I’m grooving on the narration until the narrator gets to the first bit of dialog and…they fall flat. They sound like they are reading it out, or trying to act it out…not LIVING it out. Man, I’m counting on you to be that voice in my head – and the voice in my head that reads books to me while I’m reading the print on the page is really authentic, so you’ve got to really step it up to compete with that print option! Feel it and let it come through so *I* feel it, so I know the characters really care and are really having that moment together.

So if a narrator is unfortunate enough to be spilling into my hyper-critical ears and they’ve made it this far, there is only one other thing I need: I need emotion.  I don’t mean melodrama (because that’s just a cheap trick, like sappy music in subpar movies that makes me cry when the movie doesn’t warrant it), but I do want the overall tone and emotion the author intends to come through in your voice.

Sigh. You see? I’m entirely too picky. But it also means that when I enjoy and audiobook I LOVE it. Not just a little, but enough to make me sit in my car and let the ice cream melt and risk the ire of my waiting family.

But, I readily acknowledge that this doesn’t always serve me. Had I followed this ridiculously picky method, I would never have enjoyed at least half the books my daughter and I listened to over the years. And I wouldnt’ have given one of my very favorites a fair chance and would have missed out on an exceptional moment spent crying on my doorstep because the narrator’s performance was so moving.

So for all that I experience my definition of excellence, I also miss a tremendous amount of it. Hopefully, you are far more forgiving. I think it will serve you far better 🙂

Now coming round to Tuesday’s topic of audiobook reviewing, which dovetails nicely with today’s topic (thank you Jen at Devourer of Books!), the piece I threw out there for practice is now complete. If you’ve listened to it, how did I do? Did you get from it whatever YOU are looking for in a narrator?

For those following along with The Yellow Wallpaper, here is the final installment, as well as the full version for those who want it all in one go.

(If you cannot see this player, please click this link to go directly to the SoundCloud page for The Yellow Wallpaper)

The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – Part 3 of 3

Full version: 

The Triple-threat Giveaway: 1 Audio + 1 Print Book + 1 Custom Piece

Leave a comment on any of my Audiobook Week posts before 8PM PST on Friday, 6/29, and you will be entered to win a gift package including:

  • 1 Audiobook of mine, from either Tantor (Mp3 CDs or digital download) or Iambik (download only)
  • 1 Print book of your choice from the ARCs below**
  • I’ll narrate the poem or short story of your choice (some restrictions on length/content)

…and for each post you comment on, you get your name added into the hat another time. Comment on all five posts, and you’ll have five chances to win! Regrettably, if you are outside the US, I can only offer item #3.

If you’ve got a Twitter handle, please list it in your comment so I can more easily notify you.

Winner will be announced here, and via my and Going Public’s Twitter and Facebook feeds. Winner will have until 5PM PST on Saturday, 6/30 to make their print and audiobook selections (more time can be taken for the custom recorded piece :) ) Please be sure to check one of those sources after the close of the drawing.

**print ARCs to choose from:

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May 25, 2012

We’ve got an old Irish wife, a cadaver and a bit of absurdist wit to round out May…

The Jumblies, by Edward Lear
Read by Diane Havens

Diane writes…

Edward Lear, Victorian artist and poet, is best known for his absurd wit. Children have long loved his clever, imaginative wordplay — I still do.

“Far and few are the lands where the Jumblies live” — so I figured I’d put them in Queens, New York. Anyone familiar with the old sitcom “All in the Family” will recognize my homage to Edith Bunker in the voice of the Jumblies — and that awful Bunker duet in the singing herein. (I truly do sing much better than these Jumblies, trust me.) I made sure to play the narrator as properly pompous, with much more gravitas than this story deserves.

A Woman and Her Dead Husband, by D. H. Lawrence

Read by Xe Sands

Xe writes…

Ah Lawrence. This all started with Lawrence you know. Well, actually it all started with Robin Sachs’ narration of The Wreck of the Hesperus…but I chose Lawrence for the inaugural piece for Going Public, last September.

What is it about him? Gave that some thought this morning – why this love/hate relationship I have with him? There are certainly better writers from his time period…so why do they not call to me the same way? Is it the sex, the sensual imagery? He’s certainly got that going for him (intentionally so – Lawrence was on a bit of a mission in that regard), but it’s more than that – he weaves a current of sensuality through all his work (even this piece).

No…it really comes down to this: Lawrence was my first “bad boy.” He’s volatile, passionate, loving, hating, arrogant, vulnerable. He is, in short, an angry wounded hero who could be ripped from the pages of most modern romance novels.

(He’d be appalled, I’m sure – but too bad…he’s dead, I’m not, ergo I get to describe him as I see fit.)

He and his work are like a siren’s call to all of us who love the bad boys, the wounded heroes.

So to this week’s selection, then. What intrigues me most about Lawrence is not Chatterley (although his commentary on that book is quite phenomenal – worth looking up if you haven’t). It’s that current of sensuality that is woven through his work, especially when he isn’t entirely trying. Because that current is the foundation for life itself – it runs through all living things from birth through death. It’s not actually about sex, but about the deep connection we feel between us. And sometimes, Lawrence draws on that current most when writing about grief, about anger, about loss.

This poem is one of those. Why did I voice her old…and Irish? Who knows. That’s how she wanted to be voiced. Took several passes over the last few months for me to notice that he never actually specifies age – but this felt authentic to me. As for the Irish – she was pretty insistent…I’ve learned to voice them how they want to be 🙂

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May 18, 2012

Battle of the sexes meets…ZOMBIES! Who do you think will win (my money is on the women)?

Lyistrata, by Aristophanies
Read by Diane Havens

Diane writes…

“Lysistrata” by Aristophanes, a battle of the sexes, anti-war, comedy in its day performed with all the conventions of the classical Greek stage, makes the case that even in a society that devalued women, it is these women who manage to restore sanity to that society. Living in a time of endless war, Lysistrata decides to do something about it by banding the young women of Athens and Sparta together and separating them from their husbands, withholding sex from them until they agree to make peace.
In this pieced monologue, the chorus of old women and its leader speak to the chorus of old men. They’ve been sent in to take over the Acropolis, and seize control of the treasury, drying up the war funding. The sex-starved men are eventually persuaded to give in and all ends happily, and peacefully.

Zombie Apocalypse, in 3 Acts, from

Read by Xe Sands

Xe writes…

Featuring microfiction from Pete, Wilson A., and wilw (Wil Wheaton)

All pieces from (links at bottom)
Graphic created by rubenz87

So according to the Huffington Post and esteemed zombie lore expert, Bob Reiss of the, May is Zombie Awareness month. Figured it was time I offered up some zombie-flavored goodness.

Trick is, I never get to do zombie fiction…or really, any post-apocalyptic fiction. Perhaps, you’ll say, that’s because I’m a chick. Fair enough – not many of us women narrating zomfic these days. But haHA! I have thwarted this nonsensical convention because, after frying my vocal cords a bit giving a sexy Irish priest and a sexy, surly lobsterman their requisite sexy voices…VOILA! I sound like a man! Well, at least when I want to…

So may I present, A Zombie Apocalypse, in Three Acts. This is a performance of three separate pieces offered up on, all prequels or sequels of each other (pretty nifty feature of Ficly, that). I like to think of these pieces as the bits and pieces of a journal from some unknown guy, found in the ruins.

Pieces in order of performance:

The End of the World as We Know It, by Pete

I don’t have to run fast…, by Wilson A.

the so-called lucky survivor’s lament, by Wil Wheaton

All stories licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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