Three weeks ago I released Into Deep Waters in audiobook. And held my breath, because, you know, loving something myself doesn’t mean others will. I was sure that Kaleo Griffith’s narration would resonate with many listeners, as it did with me. But still… opening day nerves, just like with any other release. With the added issue of having no real clue what to expect from audio.
By now, the book has 12 ratings on Audible, and 11 of them gave both story and narrator 5 stars. There are two lovely reviews there, and now the first blog review I’ve seen, from BJ on scattered thoughts and rogue words is even kinder than I expected. I’m so thrilled that other people are finding in the audio version what I did when I listened to it – a heartfelt emotional resonance. Thanks, Kaleo <3
As for sales… it's selling some. I really have no idea what is reasonable to expect, and with Audible credits and the cash price being different, that will be a learning process too.
There was a momentary hiccup a week ago, as Amazon arbitrarily moved the book from “Gay Romance” to “LGBT Fiction” without telling me. I rushed to pull all the tags except “Gay Romance” off it, and it went back where it should have the most appeal. ETA – I checked and the ebook is still back where it belongs, and the audio apparently doesn’t have a Gay Romance category, so we’re where we should be. (Thanks Kathleen)
It's too soon yet to say if I'll do this again with another book, but I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who bought it, and especially those who took the time to review or rate it. I hope you enjoyed sharing the world with Jacob and Daniel, for the length of 7 hours, and 69 well-lived years.
Now that I'm done dancing around, celebrating my first audio release, I do want to write about GRL. Because it's an experience I look forward to, worry over, enjoy, hide from, and then miss acutely when it's over. Every year.
GRL bills itself as an annual retreat that brings together the people who create and celebrate M/M and LGBT romance. And it really is that – a celebration of the books and the authors and the readers, in one warm, fuzzy, huggy (sometimes over-huggy), open-hearted, book-filled weekend.
There are events better suited to learning about the craft of writing. There are probably events with more varied opportunities for readers and fans. But in its small size (capped at 400 attendees) and its M/M-lovers-we-are-family atmosphere, GRL is a great chance to find a renewed love for the genre.
This year, GRL was in San Diego – that picture up top was the view from my hotel room. Leaving Minnesota's near-freezing October, it was lovely and warm landing in San Diego. And then not so lovely, humid and hot. I sat in the shuttle waiting for other passengers to go to the hotel, and thought, “Please don't let my swag melt!!” I'd brought chocolates with my covers on the wrappers, and hadn't planned on the half hour wait in the heat. Luckily they were fine, and after a little time in the hotel room with AC, I was too. The rest of the weekend was more temperate, with beaches and palm trees.
One of the things that makes GRL a bit unique is that there is really no separation between authors and readers. The person sitting next to you in a talk might just be Jordan Castillo Price. The guy buying a book at the next table could be Brandon Witt (who also might be the guy wearing the flamingo hat on his head at the dinner on the beach.) We authors are all readers too, and at GRL we swap roles at a moment’s notice.
One hour, I’m asking questions of the three writers up front of the room in their Q&A panel. The next hour, Amy Lane is asking me in my Q&A why I upped the angst and shot some beloved character in the head. (To which my lovely moderator Kris Jacen’s immediate response was, “Amy, you killed the horse!”) My panel happened to be opposite Mary Calmes and Andrew Grey’s spotlight, so we had a small but very select audience. (Thanks for the great questions, Amy!)
And then a couple of days later I’m back in the audience, as Amy explains, to the delight of all us reader-nerds, how heroic tropes play out in M/M, and the difference between the British and American Romantic Hero. (Briefly, she pointed out that the American hero is more likely to be willing to act outside the law, to put the people and causes he loves ahead of any social constraints or force of law. He’ll go rogue, for a cause.) She asked if she was getting too far into analysis, and was met with a resounding vote of approval. I loved hearing someone who writes sexy guys that make me cry, discussing English literature.
There is always a lot going on even when sessions aren’t in progress, but much of it is informal – people meet up with glad cries, and head off to discussions, Cards Against Humanity games, trips to watch whales or to gay bars. For someone who’s as introverted as I am, those are the times I head to my room for some solitary downtime. Even more so this year, since extrovert friends whose coat-tails I hoped to cling to had to cancel out. Going alone is fine – you will meet and make friends. But going with a friend is no doubt even better. Next year, Jonathan, Edmond, Sammy…
I met some wonderful people whom I know online, from Cody Kennedy (amazing guy with a huge heart, especially for teenagers in need), to Christy Duke (whose picture of Hans I borrowed below), to Caraway Carter (who does give the best hugs and is way taller than I thought), and many more. I received unexpected, thoughtful gifts, some handmade, all sweet, that I hope I expressed enough thanks for. I found new authors to check out, and added way too many books to my TBR list. I played Bunco, and Gay Romance Trope pictionary, and actually won. (Thanks to author Atom Yang.) So many great moments.
There’s usually a costume party, given the closeness to Halloween, and our fondness for dressing up. Every year the costumes are awesome. The picture is of author Hans Hirschi, as Her Majesty the Queen. With an entrance to the strains of God Save the Queen, gowned, gloved, and tiaraed, Hans was the very model of regal splendor.
There were many Marvel characters (exposing my ignorance of popular culture – I needed K-lee Klein to set me straight on who was who.) Spice Girls and pin-up girls, superheroes and villains, (and may I say many people, men and women, wore those spike heels, or leather and grenades, way better than I ever could.) And so many other imaginative choices. (How long did it take the gentleman in leather to shower all the glitter out of his lovely blond furriness? Good thing he had his guy to help him with that…)
My first audio book, of my favorite of my own stories, is now available on Audible!
I’m really excited to hear what listeners think of this book. I loved the narration that Kaleo Griffith did for me, especially in the most emotional parts of the story.
Into Deep Waters is a book with action, adventure, loss, fun, life changes, and strong, abiding love. I wrote it to make those emotions felt by the reader, but it never hit me as deeply as when I heard Kaleo read it. Then, suddenly, in his voicing of Jacob and Daniel, I could actually feel the story in ways I never have with my own words on paper before. It was so cool. I hope you all love it too.
BTW, if anyone is thinking about a new Audible membership, the author/publisher of the first book you buy gets a $50 bonus from Audible. So if you are just joining, choose your favorite for your first book and give them a bonus :) ie. Don’t waste it on Dickens or Proust, however great they may be ;)
Then sit back and enjoy Kaleo’s wonderful voice.
(If you review audio books for a blog, please contact me about a free review copy.)
October is being celebrated as Queer Romance Month. Authors, bloggers and readers are coming together to post about reading and writing queer romance, and to tell some personal stories, and share fiction. You can find links to the daily posts on the Queer Romance Month home page: http://www.queerromancemonth.com/
My post is up today, about writing outside of my own experiences. I’ve always believed in the power of fiction to both help us understand ourselves, and to give us the chance to walk in someone else’s shoes. And nowhere more so than in LGBTQ fiction. But taking the plunge as an author can be a little scary. You can find my post here: http://www.queerromancemonth.com/kaje-harper-2015/
Don’t forget to click the link on the home page to enter the rafflecopter for an ebook giveaway too.
After delays to bring out my Don’t Read in the Closet free novel, and for narrator Kaleo Griffith to do publicity for his recently released movie, we are in the home stretch of the audio book.
So what comes next?
Kaleo and his sound engineer have delivered the complete audio file of the book to the ACX page, for me to listen to. It ended up running just shy of seven and a half hours, for a 64K story. (Not too far off the estimate of seven hours. That’s important for planning, if you contract to pay an hourly rate to your narrator.)
Now we listen to each chapter, and chart on the script and recording time, any errors we want to fix before release. You are allowed two rounds of edits, but judging by what I’ve gone though so far on mine, one should be enough, barring a problem with one of the fixes. It’s very cleanly recorded.
I’m loving Kaleo’s narration, his voices, and the way he reads my words with the right touches, pauses, and emphasis to make the meaning clear. (Even when my sentences aren’t perfect. The toughest part of listening is wanting to tweak my own story. Again…)
But seriously, I’ve never been able to read my own stuff out loud, even when the audience was limited to the dog. But listening to Kaleo… I actually found myself not wanting to put it aside to do other things. And then I hit a sex scene and… it was… hot?! It was, actually… yeah. *big grin because this audio thing is better than I thought.*
So, audio editing round:
A while ago, after the first 15 minute sample was done, we’d asked another narrator, Sean Crisden, (who was wonderful about answering our newbie questions, and is a great narrator too) about fixing mistakes. I’m going to just copy his answer here, because it was a big help:
“Edits (or “pick-ups” as they’re commonly referred to as in snazzy audiobook lingo) are absolutely to be expected. Unless there is some agreement to the contrary (which I have never seen let alone heard of) stating that the narrator will not do any revisions then it is indeed a given that there will be pick-ups. I’ve only had two books in my entire career that didn’t require at least a handful of pick-ups and even then I felt that the proofers missed something. It’s extremely rare for a narrator not to make an error with hours of text.
“Most typically, pick-ups are for mispronunciations, jumbled word order, stumbling or enunciation. It is also common to see them for mouth noise (those annoying clicks and pops), “gasping” breaths and/or miscellaneous noises (chair squeak, barking dog, lawnmower etc.).
“As for “reading direction” and tone, you have to remember that as a voice-seeker, you select a narrator for their particular style of narration and the choices that that narrator makes. In essence, you hire them for their art and performance which is uniquely theirs. So a bit of trust is involved in the resulting interpretation and expression of the story.
“Micromanagement and handholding can become cumbersome for both parties, akin to a director and screenwriter telling a star actor how to deliver every line. Of course, there are moments when a narrator or actor can make a choice that simply does not work. That’s when tact and teamwork to create the best work possible come into play for everyone.
“It is always best to provide any notes to the narrator prior to the narration beginning. Typically they are few and far between as a well written manuscript will need little external guidance if the narrator reads it and preps appropriately. Similarly, the narrator should pre-read the entire manuscript and create their own prep notes to research for any pronunciation questions or queries in general should they have any. It saves everyone work on the back end and there are fewer pick-ups.
“If your narrator is mispronouncing something, absolutely provide that feedback to him. It will save time to do it early with only 15 minutes of audio rather than hours to comb through and correct later.
“To make it easier, read along with the text as you listen and proof. Make a list or spreadsheet to document errors that you hear. When you hear an error, list the page number of the text where it occurs, the audio file name/number, the time code from the audio where the error occurs (minutes and seconds) and the correction note(s). You may also want to type out the sentence in which the error occurs.
“Technical errors of course should be noted for re-record (mispronunciation, jumbled words, enunciation, etc.) as should glaring noises (creaks, thumps, barking, etc.). However I encourage you to be judicious in your error selection when it involves things like mouth noise, breaths and of course the narrator’s delivery and interpretation of the story.
“Particularly mouth noise and breathing should be noted and removed where they are a noticeable distraction and not simply because they occur as both are tied inextricably to human speech. I’m still surprised at the number of audiobook producers who remove all breaths from the narration. For me it ends up sounding much less organic and human and more like a robot telling me a story which I find highly undesirable. Of course, you may prefer it and the choice is certainly yours. Loud clicks, tongue-slaps and gasping breaths should of course be removed as they can be distracting unless for some reasons used as a part of the story itself.
“To summarize, pick-ups are always to be expected and you are well within normal operating procedure to request them.”
Isn’t that a great answer, from someone who wasn’t even our narrator on this book? So helpful. <3
Anyway, as I listen to our book, Kaleo Griffith clearly has a very capable sound engineer, so the recording I'm listening to has very few noises, clicks, whatever. Plus it's amazingly error-free. (Not completely, but very clean.)
And again, my producer, Jonathan Penn, makes my project better – I'm catching a rare error, or change of emphasis. Jonathan is diligently classifying his catches into three levels of seriousness and has picked up a couple more. Still very few, but he has a better ear. (Maybe he's not squinting at the tweaks he wishes he could make, as he reads along. :)
Once we match and agree on our list of pick-ups, we’ll send it to Kaleo. Then we get back the corrected version.
I’m really excited – the project is almost done, and should be out before GRL.
With luck, my next post will be about the release :) *crosses fingers hoping I didn’t just jinx it*
GRL is on my mind…
I just got my plane tickets, and today I’m on a great blog site – “Gay. Guy. Reading. and Friends”– talking about anticipation, and my writing.
And enter to win a free ebook of anything on my backlist.
Hope to see you on the blog!
Comments here on my own blog will be answered, but do not qualify for the drawing.
Chasing Death Metal Dreams, my free novel for the Love is an Open Road event is now out. You can find the story posted here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/17032945-chasing-death-metal-dream-by-kaje-harper-8-1
Since it is 93K, the lovely event organizers have also made it immediately available for download. You can get a copy in .pdf, .epub or .mobi here: http://www.mmromancegroup.com/chasing-death-metal-dreams-by-kaje-harper/
Carlos Medina has spent years of sweat, pain, effort, and money becoming the man he is. He writes original songs, plays lead guitar, and wears his death metal front-man persona like armor. With an excellent drummer and a talented bassist, his band, KnifeSwitch, has what it takes to succeed, if they can just catch a break. But it’s been a long road already, and there’s still a mountain left to climb. Carlos isn’t looking for anything more in his personal life than an occasional hook-up with a hot guy, preferably outside the less-than-gay-friendly metal scene.
Nate Goldstein has no intention of dating a musician. His twin brother fronts a band, and he knows band guys are all busy, broke, and obsessed with their music. But Carlos catches his artist’s eye. Nate is wary – he has a history of picking the wrong guys. Still, he might be willing to break some personal rules to find out what’s behind Carlos’s dark gaze and imaginative lyrics.
Getting together the first time is easy and fun. The second time is more complicated. And when music, ambition, and personalities clash, the guys will have to decide if they have a future worth fighting for.
This story was written for Melissa’s prompt– A young bare-chested man stands staring boldly outward from below his raised arms, hands pressed together in his black hair, elbows winged out, colorful dagger tattoos on his forearms. Another tattoo near his neck forms swirl of dark curves with “Boy” over his left collarbone. His biceps are strong, his stomach and pecs flat, his nipples small, above a thin treasure trail leading downward. Below each nipple is the unmistakable, long-healed scar of top surgery.
I was sent to the US at the age of 10 by my father who could not accept me. You see I was misgendered at birth and I started fighting against my body at a young age. My father sent me to live with my cousin’s family along with enough money to pay my way for a few years. Little does he know he helped to fund the many surgeries and hormones to fulfill my dream of having my outside gender match the gender my brain has always known myself to be.
What do you think Author? Not many know of his secret. He is a gay man. Is he in a gang? Is he in a band? How will he find love? How will he be accepted?
The picture caught my imagination. So many people helped me write it and I’m grateful to every one of them. I hope readers will enjoy where I took Carlos and Nate in this book.