Posts Tagged With: short story

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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Going Public JIAM Audiopalooza – June 27th!


Recap: Monday through Friday this week, I (Xe) will be posting a new Going Public piece. I’m also participating in Audiobook Week, so if you’re looking for those posts, please look for “Audiobook Week” in Recent Posts in the sidebar.

The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – Part 2 of 3

Read by Xe Sands

(and if you cannot see the player above, you can access it via the SoundCloud page for Part 2 of The Yellow Wallpaper). 

I think I’ve grown a bit angry.

Let me start with this – how the story is generally encapsulated:

“…a woman whose mental illness makes her a prisoner in her own home.”

“…a young wife and mother succumbing to madness “

So why is this a problem? It’s true, right? She is unbalanced. She does descend into madness. But it’s all a question of why, WHY does she “succumb” to madness?

And this is where I grow a bit angry. Most of the dismissive language used in these summaries miss the point: that this story is a treatise on the attitudes toward women’s mental health during this period (written in 1899). The narrator, who we are supposed to believe is unreliable, is actually perfectly coherent and early on in the story, likely a far better judge about what would actually help her. It is the ignorance and arrogance of her husband that is the unreliable narrator, for his filter regarding her condition and what would help it, cannot be trusted to give the reader an accurate picture of what ails his wife. I believe that it is the ignorance and arrogance of her husband that allows the spiral to happen.

Take a look at this bit from the author, “Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper.” And tell me if attitudes are really all that different today? All I can say is that it is wonderful that she was able to save herself…and I think she put a hint of that in this story:

“He says no one but myself can help me out of it, that I must use my will and self-control and not let any silly fancies run away with me.”

Luckily for Gilman, she was able to do what her narrator could not.

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Going Public JIAM Audiopalooza – June 26th!


Recap: Monday through Friday this week, I (Xe) will be posting a new Going Public piece. I’m also participating in Audiobook Week, so if you’re looking for those posts, please look for “Audiobook Week” in Recent Posts in the sidebar.

The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – Part 1 of 3

Read by Xe Sands

(and if you cannot see the player above, you can access it via the SoundCloud page for The Yellow Wallpaper). 

Recap: several weeks back, I decided I wanted to offer a fresh Going Public piece every day of Audiobook Week, in celebration of JIAM. But just WHAT to offer? I mean, after doing the Lawrence poetry mashups with Robin Sachs…well, where could I possibly go from there?

Originally, I wanted to record The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson. Sadly, it is not in the public domain. But then, for some reason, this wonderful, dark, gothic story of a woman’s decent into madness came to mind. Not sure whether to thrilled to have the perfect piece, or somewhat disturbed that a tale of neuroses run wild popped into my mind so easily, but I digress…

I’ve serialized this, almost like an old-time radio program. So grab your favorite beverage, get cozy in your favorite chair, slip on the headphones, and join me as we listen to our narrator tell us her tale…

“I wish I could get well faster.

But I must not think about that. This paper looks to me as if it KNEWwhat a vicious influence it had!”

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June 15, 2012

The selling of body…for soul…shrouded in blue…wait, with a reverend? Oh this is a strange week indeed!

Muse, by Cee Martinez & 6’minutestory
Read by Xe Sands

Xe writes…

This one has been fluttering against my inner walls for months now. The original version I recorded just never “hit” it and I didn’t want to release something of Martinez’s without doing it justice. But last week, it just clicked and I decided to give it another try.

Part of what I really enjoy about Martinez’s work is that I can never fully understand it intellectually – which is perfect for me. I don’t *want* to understand this type of work intellectually – I want to understand it emotionally, viscerally, the way I experience poetry.

So please don’t ask what this means because I won’t be able to tell you…but I can tell you how it made me feel…

Story URL:
Shared via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivs 3.0
Recorded with permission from the author

Bluejay Requiem and My Father’s Eyes, by Diane Havens
Read by Diane Havens

Diane writes…

Two poems I wrote recently. Blue both in color and in theme.

The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J Diggs and the Fruit of Another Vine, by David Wilson
Read by Joe Geoffrey
David writes…
This short story was written for a limited edition book titled “The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & The Currently Accepted Habits of Nature,” which is available as an unabridged audiobook. This story – recorded by Joe Geoffrey – the same narrator – is a shorter adventure, offered for free through Creative Commons by the author David Niall Wilson and the narrator, Joe Geoffrey. Cletus lives in Old Mill, North Carolina, where all necks are red, and all stories are strange. Enjoy.
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Mother’s Day Edition!

Ah mothers…so endearing, and so handy with a shotgun!

Z is for Zombie, by Kevin Lawver &

Read by Xe Sands

Xe writes…

So Mother’s Day…yeah. I wanted something profound – some bit of poetry that really spoke to motherhood (either being one or having one). And I thought, “Really, how hard could it be to find a public domain poem? Phsssh!” So I looked and…


Okaaaay…must be some “angry” mother poetry (again, in the public domain), right? Sure! I mean, it will be unconventional to go “angry” for Mother’s Day, but heck, we mothers do get angry sometimes. No problem! But…


Huh. Then, I had a brainwave (and at my age, you TREASURE those, trust me) and realized that *of course* I had a piece perfect for this occasion. Ok, ok, it’s a bit unconventional as well, BUT! But what better way to honor mothers than to show them at their finest, providing cheerfulness and compassionate explanation to their children…as they show them how to lock-n-load in the face of the zombie horde? Now THAT’s a mom!

Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Mother and Poet, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Read by Diane Havens

Diane writes…

“More than any other major Victorian poet, she (Barrett Browning) explicitly and directly confronts political issues, particularly those concerning women. Like Tennyson, her husband, and many other contemporaries, she began as a disciple of Shelley who found the Romantic visionary mode compelling, and like them, she later developed a poetry of social, moral, and political commitment. Part of her sense of the poet’s responsibility appears in her many early religious poems, but it appears even more as an attachment to themes involving domestic, international, and sexual politics….
After settling in Florence after her elopement with Robert Browning in 1846, she took up the cause of Italian nationalism, and this subject produced Casa Guidi Windows (1851) and Poems before Congress (1860). “Mother and Poet” (1862), which bears the subtitle “Turin, after News from Gaeta, 1861,” is a lyric spoken by the Italian poet and patriot Laura Savio upon learning that both her sons have died in the cause of Italian liberty. Combining her interests in the fate of women, the role of the female poet, and the events of the Risorgimento, this poem records the cost and the pain of the struggle.”

~Jason Isaacs, The Victorian Web

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