Auditory Update

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll have seen that Gabrielle de Cuir finished up the review recording for Steel Beneath the Skin a couple of days ago. I’ve spent the last couple of evenings going through it. As it stands there’s 11 hours 32 minutes of audio here and I’m still working through it. I got to the end of part 3 last night and I thought “should update the troops.”

So… I’m kind of jazzed. (Just to be clear, I don’t think I ever use that phrase in real life, but it somehow seems right. I may be buzzed instead). There are a couple of things that I think need fixing, but it’s technical stuff. So far I have not come across a single sentence where I’m thinking “Oh I really don’t see that as how it should sound.” Gabrielle has captured the story and the world as well as I could have hoped for. I am enjoying listening to something that I know backwards. I mean, I’ve read Steel a lot of times. Some of you have possibly read it more often, but I’ve read it a lot and I’m not a big one for re-reading books. It takes a lot to spark that interest again. Monday night I came home feeling fairly bad and watched a movie to try to get myself in a fit state to listen. And then I sat down to part one, and when it finished it was about forty minutes into Tuesday and I had work in the morning, and I still had to force myself not to start part two.

Part four tonight. Can’t wait.

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Covers and That First 15 Minutes

So, the road to audio continues. At the weekend I was sent the first 15 minutes of the audiobook of Steel Beneath the Skin to approve. I approved. It’s just… strange. I listen to audiobooks a fair bit and this is someone reading my writing to me. I think it’s going to be good, but I may be prejudiced.

I also put the cover up on ACX, and DeviantArt. It re-rendered it because audiobook covers are square. You get a bit more leg than on the ebook and paperback. I won’t repost the picture, but you’ll find the big version here.

As an aside, Kate On A Hot Tin Roof, the first of the Unobtainium series, is in proofing. Expect that to hit the stands very soon.

And the Winner is…

Well, me, but the person who will be turning Aneka into a real person is Gabrielle de Cur. The selection was made based on my own preferences and a little audience testing, and Gabrielle has accepted my offer so we’re winging our way to an audiobook of Steel Beneath the Skin.

Seriously, this was not easy. I’ve been listening to auditions as they came in and a few were just not what I wanted (for this book; if I do others there are some names I’ll be remembering), but the majority went in the maybe pile. I’ve flicked through other recordings on the ACX site as well to see the range these ladies can manage. Last night I sat down with the 12 audition recordings I had and narrowed those down to four I thought fitted the series well. And then I listened to those recordings, several times. In the end, this is an entirely subjective choice and I know it. It really came down to two choices and my ‘test audience’ liked Gabrielle. I made her an offer and was accepted quite promptly.

Then I went off to look at her resume, so to speak. I hadn’t actually thought of doing so until the last minute. It went something like, “Oh wow, she did the Ender’s Game audiobook.” (Not my genre, but I know it’s a big thing.) “Oh… wow, she won an award… Oh wow, she was nominated for a Grammie!” So at least one of us has a clue what we’re doing here. I consider this a good thing.

You’ll find Gabrielle over on Skyboat Media’s web site. You’ll find me hiding under the table.

A Task Both Amazing and Disconcerting

I am embarked upon a journey into the unknown.

Okay, so not exactly, but I have the opportunity to do something fantastic and it’s not something I’m entirely prepared for. Steel Beneath the Skin is to become an audiobook. It’s something of an experiment; I use audiobooks a lot and have friends who do, but whether this will be a successful enterprise is an open question. The process itself promises to be fascinating, so I plan to document at least some of it here, as things proceed. I’m using the ACX service to find producers and get this thing going, so this will be my view of how that system works for this task.

Obviously, the narrator is going to be key. ACX allows you to hunt through potential narrators/producers for your ideal choice. In this case it hardly seems necessary, but it certainly is fascinating. The talent out there! I should be used to the idea. I listen to the books, I play a fair bit of video games, I like animated movies, so voice acting should be something I think of as commonplace, but there are people out there who can turn their hand to anything.

Thus far, however, I’ve posted the project to ACX’s site and I’ve received 8 audition recordings in 36 hours. The procedure is to take a short excerpt from the work you wish to publish, and this is used as the audition piece. The first problem, of course, was finding something to use for that. I wanted a self-contained clip, preferably with a reasonable amount of non-speech text, but also with Aneka and Ella speaking, and also Al if I could manage it. That would give a good selection of voices, particularly the two primary characters. I have decided upon a female narrator, and having Al in there gives an indication of how a male voice will sound. Aneka and Ella have distinctly different accents as well. Eventually I settled upon the short scene where Aneka tries on her swarm dress for the first time since it’s actually one of the few scenes in the first book which has all three together.

And now I have several different versions of that scene in audio. I do not mind admitting that selecting one person to do this is likely to drive me nuts. I’m horribly conflicted over several of them already. It’s sweet shop syndrome; too many good things to choose from and I have to pick just one… Okay, so it’s amazing, and fun, and fascinating, but how the Hell do I make a decision on this?! I’m selecting someone who is going to give a voice to these characters I’ve invested so much time in. This is going to be hard.

That Christmas Message

(Preparatory note: While considering what I was going to write here, I started thinking that it sounded like a ‘this is the end, I’m writing no more’ speech. It isn’t, so put that out of your head and read on with happiness in your heart. Also, I’m cross-posting this to both blogs, because it’s for all of you and I don’t know whether you all read both blogs.)

So… On a whim this afternoon I was clicking through Netflix and I found Stephen Fry’s Planet Word. I hope everyone knows who Stephen Fry is; he’s a British national treasure, but beyond that he’s an eloquent man with a love of language. Planet Word is his tour of how language came about, what it means, who it has changed, how it is written, and the kind of thing he thinks of when it comes to good writing (and there are a few surprises in that list). If it’s available on whatever streaming service you may use, I heartily recommend it.

What it did for me, aside from entertaining me for several hours, was got me thinking. Mr Fry has written books and he tells the story of the arrival of his first ever printed novel and how he felt to see something he had written sitting there, bound into a book. And I know how he felt. The last programme, about literature, made me think of something else; about the pleasure he gets from reading the kinds of works he likes.

Now, I don’t claim to be a Joyce, or an Orwell, or a P.G. Wodehouse, or any of the other authors mentioned in the series. But you lot are out there enjoying my writing. Someone told me recently that one scene in The Other Side of Hell had really cheered her up and I got a little thrill out of that. I don’t care whether you read my stuff because you like strong female characters, or kick-ass heroines, or the sex, or the guns. I assume you like the stories, because you’re here reading this and you keep buying them. Coming up to Christmas, I think it’s a good time to point out that I really appreciate the fact that people out there are enjoying Aneka and Ella, and Ceri and Lily, and all the other characters. Thank you.

PS. I’m not trawling for praise either. If you feel like posting some, save it for the next book and have a damn good Christmas (or whatever form of holiday you may be celebrating).

Indecision Redux

Right, it’s official: I cannot keep a project in my head for longer than a few days at a time without something else popping up and interrupting. It’s the opposite of writers block, but it’s as annoyingly disabling. I need a break.

Thankfully, I plan to get The Lowest Depths of Shame out at the beginning of October and then I have the reissue project going which is going to tie up some bandwidth until the new year. I don’t plan on putting anything new out after Shame until the start of February. That gives me a couple of months to play computer games, fiddle about with things which might end up as books and might fail, pick something to have ready for February, and get it all wrapped and ready.

Well, last time I ended up in this mood, the end result was Steel Beneath the Skin, so you never know, my frustration may be a good thing.

Here We Are in Indecision Land

So the next Ultrahumans book, Shadows, is looking like it’s taking over as the candidate for release after The Lowest Depths of Shame. I’m writing something else, a sci-fi/urban fantasy/horror novel called Reality Hack, and I’m going to get it done and released because it’s cool, but I got stuck and Shadows is begging to be finished and released.

hate having too many ideas. Better than having too few, I guess, but I end up having trouble finishing anything. The rumblings of future plot keep percolating up through my coffee-fuelled brain, somewhat akin to methane bubbling up through tar. They hit the surface and burst, spewing black, sticky goo over everything nearby and making it hard to think because of the sulphurous scent. (I did say I’d been doing horror recently, right?)

I really need to be able to write three things at once. I mean, seriously. Then I could do a fantasy, a sci-fi, and another random one, and my inspiration monster would be happy. Maybe. And I’d know what my release schedule actually looked like. Maybe.