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I'm most recently a writer.  In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot.  As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades.  An unwilling transplant from the South,  twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US.  Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect.  When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do.  Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shannon's Daughter--the Audiobook! And So It Begins

I want to invite you to join me on a little journey, one I never even dreamed of taking. Over the next two months or so, Shannon's Daughter--a book I never dreamed of writing, come to think of--will be made into an audiobook. This territory is so foreign to me, I can't even speculate on the experience. But I'd love some company, so please join me and we can learn together.

The story began when I decided to post a couple of my titles on Amazon's audio platform, ACX just to see what would happen. To say I was naive--no, make that clueless--would be an understatement. But like all of Amazon's publishing platforms, this one takes you by the hand and gently leads you through the process. I first posted my new release, Katie Lost and Found. The expectation is there are producers (narrators) out there watching as each new title posts and running to their microphones to record an audition the moment they see something interesting. However, nothing happened. I followed ACX's suggestion and reached out to a couple of narrators whose voices I liked. (You can listen all day to sample auditions and bow your head in wonder at the talent out there!) It was at this point that the light of reality began to dawn on my expectations. These very talented people like to be paid for their time and talent, as in paid more than hypothetical shared royalties sometime in the dim future. Since I couldn't offer hundreds of dollars an hour for their work, they weren't going to waste their valuable time auditioning. Fair enough. I understand that not everyone chooses to invest months of hard work on the chance that one day someone will buy the product of their labors. Even I wouldn't mind a bit of cash up front before I write a 130K word novel, but the obsessive need to create always wins that argument, hands down.

The silence did not particularly dampen my interest in this venture, so next, I posted my novella, Christmas at Valley Rise, thinking a short work might be attractive. Surely out there was one talented voice seeking the satisfaction of creating for virtually nothing, in which case we were obviously meant for one another! Once again, nothing.

In a blatant act of defiance, I decided to post Shannon's Daughter. Now remember--assuming you've followed my blog and know the story of this book--SD is my red-haired stepchild. Although it is inspired by a character from the Miracle at Valley Rise series, it is neither inspirational nor a traditional romance, ie no happily ever after. The reviews have been a bit of all over the place, but primarily positive, which frankly surprised the heck out of me. If there was a book I felt compelled to write despite my own doubt in its success, this is the one. But I love this book for its characters, its settings, and frankly, its quirks. So, all that said, I shook my fist at the creative gods and posted SD to ACX, with absolutely no expectations.

What happened next was downright stunning. It turns out Amazon has this wonderful thing called a stipend program. Through whatever mysterious combination of algorithms and sorcery, they choose certain books and offer narrators a stipend per completed hour to produce them. I'll never know how SD was chosen, but I've got the email saying "Congratulations" to prove it had been. Up went the little green banner on the post, which works like a magnet where auditions are concerned. No sooner had I received that stunning email than the little audio snippets started to appear.

One by one, nine amazing voices reading my words, nine talented individuals of varying ages, from all over the country and even abroad, lined up for my consideration. Heady stuff, that. I had requested a male voice with a British accent initially, but later changed to either gender in the spirit of equality. They were all so impressive. With each one, I felt more and more conflicted. But there was one, and only one, that gave me chills. I even sent him a message to make sure he understood the payment offered, because I was afraid to get attached and find out he wouldn't really work for less than I'm sure he's worth. But no, he assured me he was "more than interested" in recording SD.

Anyway, cut to the finish, today I made the official offer and after a bit of back and forth--which consisted of him patiently leading me through the process, since he's the one with experience--we struck a deal!

Here's the kicker--he's British! I had wanted someone who could give true voice to Kendall Gregg, the English violinist hero of SD, since the story is told from his third-person point of view. All the accents were good, don't get me wrong, but this one best matches the voice I heard while writing SD. As an added bonus, he nailed my Irish-American New York socialite, Peg Shannon, on the first try--emphasis on the New York, not on the Irish!

So, without further ado, I'm proud to announce that Shannon's Daughter the Audiobook will be narrated by the exceptionally talented Matthew Lloyd Davies! http://www.matthewlloyddavies.com/

The process has just begun. Who knows what sort of adventures lie ahead? At the moment, I'm elated, anticipatory, and just a smidge terrified about what's to come. Please stay tuned as the saga of Shannon's Daughter the Audiobook unfolds!

Monday, October 13, 2014

That #%&! To-Do List

There too much to do! There aren't enough hours in the day! I'm so overwhelmed, I don't have the energy to do anything! Sound at all familiar? Or is that just my life?

Case in point--it's been twenty-two days since my last post here. And yet my to-do list says I will write a post at least once every seven days.

Another case in point--Last spring, my son finished all the structural work on our renovated dining room, leaving me "only" the finish work. On my to-do list is prepping, painting, refinishing the dining table, making new cushions for the window seat, finding a set of chairs, new window treatments, a new centerpiece. . and so on. So far I've patched a few plaster cracks, sanded most of one window frame and. . .well, I've walked through the room at least twenty times a day. Does that count for anything?

Starting to see where I'm headed here? The old to-do list is nothing but a list. It doesn't contribute inspiration, motivation, or time. In some instances, it only serves to make us feel inadequate and frustrated.

It's so easy to find reasons, not to mention excuses, for not getting it all done. In my case, there are jobs, the ones that include a paycheck as well as the ones that are rewarded with meals on the table and a semi-clean house. Then there's my family, especially my husband, whom I refuse to completely neglect for the sake of. . .well, anything. Oh, and there's that book I'm working on, the one I hope to get out by Christmas? Don't let me sit down to the computer and open that file. I'll never get anything else done!

In my life, I've been to this place so many times, you'd think I could see it coming and maybe take a different tack? Being overwhelmed by too much to do is nothing new, but I have to ask why I keep letting things pile up. Then again, that's such a dumb question. First of all, I didn't let it happen. I did not intentionally commit to all of this in order to end up feeling overwhelmed. What I did was set out to accomplish a number of  worthy tasks, and forget to give myself permission to take as long as needed to complete them. Everything on my to-do list was put there by me. The deadlines are my own. There are no penalties for delays. Well, other than my own impatience, but there again, I'm the one in control, right?

Emerson said "life is a journey, not a destination." The to-do list will never be completely done. Along the way, other opportunities and responsibilities will jump on board and distract us, or perhaps lead us to something more important at that moment. If we are closed to those distractions, what might we miss out on? Yes, the list is important as a general reminder of things I need to accomplish, but I refuse to let it make me feel guilty or nonproductive. I hereby, once again, give myself permission to enjoy the journey, to explore the sidetracks, and learn from the delays. Maybe I'll even put those things permanently at the top of my new to-do list.