Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Surviving a Flood? - Andrew Grey

I want to thank so many people for the direct Facebook messages in regards to the flooding in Ellicott City Maryland.  My brother's business is there.  He has the Wine Bin in Ellicott City.  For those of you who don't know, the town was ravaged by flash flooding earlier this week for the second time in two years.  Unfortunately the water was worse this time and so is the damage to the town.  Thankfully my family is fine and no one was hurt.

Here is a video of the aftermath:

So far I don't know the actual damage to his business as he isn't able to get into town to look at it.  The town wasn't fully recovered from the last flood and now this one had set everything back again.  It will take a long time for recovery for the town as well as my brother's business.

Please send your best wishes to my brother, his family, and the entire town.  They really need it right now.


Ask Andrew is your chance to ask questions of a gay romance author.  The questions can be about the writing process in general, writing sex scenes, gay men, sex, characters in romance, characters having sex... okay you probably get the picture.    I promise to answer your questions as frankly and with as much humor as I possibly can.  So please send your question.

So if you have a question, please send it to  This is different from my usual email so your questions don't get lost.  I will answer one question a week.

Please remember this is meant to be all in fun.  (I was going to say good, clean fun, but who wants that.)    So send me your questions and let's see what mischief we can get into.

Visit Andrew on Facebook:  and you can join Andrew's fan group All The Way With Andrew Grey.

Follow him on Twitter:  @andrewgreybooks

Sunday, May 27, 2018

I Survived the Romantic Times Conference

Hey everyone!

I'm back from Romantic Times in Reno! I took a few days to process and unwind and I have a ton of takeaways and things I learned, but for this blog I wanted to talk about the amazing readers in my genre.

I'm an author that started publishing right before the big m/m romance boom happened years ago, and then I took a big break to raise kids for seven years. I am back to writing now, and working hard, but I am still adjusting to the new climate, the new marketing norms, the new attitudes and the huge number of authors there are now. All of these things are fine and good as far as I am concerned but they've taken some readjustment.

I am an extrovert by nature, so I went into the conference ready to meet people. In fact, that was my number one personal goal -- meet new people, make new connections, take the temperature of the readers.

As I understand it, this last RT wasn't very well attended, but it was just about perfect for my first con since going back on the scene. I wasn't overwhelmed, but I did meet TONS of people. Authors and readers alike. For me, everyone was new.

But my favorite, most optimistic, most uplifting lesson from the conference was something I learned at the book fair/signing event on Saturday. The romance genre is HUGE. This is no surprise. What was enlightening to me was how diverse the whole genre is. All kinds of pairings (and threesomes and more) all along the sexuality spectrum, all kinds of sub-genres from way out there paranormal to small town, all kinds of heat levels from sweet and spiritual to hot hot kinky hot.

Essentially, romance authors aren't afraid to say "what if?" and then answer that question by writing about it. There really is a book for every reader, and a reader for every book.

Overall, my experience at RT validated my long-held belief that authors are not in competition with one another, but actually support one another by their very existence. If my book doesn't hit your sweet spot, I can bet you dollars to doughnuts I know someone else's work that will. I think we all benefit by celebrating love in all of its diversity and incarnations, and I can tell you having met so many readers that you guys appreciate that.

There was a lot of disappointment around this very last RT, I know. And I experienced some of that first-hand as well. But overall, for me personally, I took home far more than I went with, and I'm not just talking about swag and the state of my suitcase. I'm carrying a lot of appreciation and new friendships. I'm optimistic about the future!

Happy Sunday everyone.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Ghost Writers by S.C. Wynne


Image result for ghost writer

Good morning!!

I bought a course on using Scrivener once (because it's the most confusing mass of bells and whistles any author has ever had to try and figure out) and now Udemy sends me emails every day trying to get me to buy more courses.

One of these courses being offered was about using ghost writers. It made me start thinking about the use of ghost writers. Using ghost writers is nothing new. Everybody knows that while the name Carolyn Keene was on the covers of all the Nancy Drew books, they were written by various ghost writers. I will admit, when I discovered that, it shocked me, but it also made sense as to why some of the books "voices" were so different.

I'm not here to pass judgment on anyone who uses ghost writers. I guess that's a decision each person would have to make for themselves. But I do have an opinion on the matter. I often wonder how an author who exclusively uses ghost writers would interact with readers? Since they didn't actually write the story. Maybe they get the story back from the ghost writer and they kind of rewrite it? Therefore they feel close to the story, but they didn't have to put in the same energy as coming up with all the words? Because, let's face it, the writing process is draining. Amazing, but tiring.

I think of authors who use ghost writers more as publishers than authors. They buy a product and then they resell it. Much like you'd sell shoes. I'm not sure that would be fulfilling for someone like me. I prefer to write all my own words and come up with all my own stories. I, personally, would feel strange interacting with readers if I hadn't written the books. I wouldn't know what to say to readers to be honest. Do I even know what to say now? lol When I'm the one who wrote the stories? :D

I will say though, that the new state of publishing has become a real stressful grind. I can see why some people feel the need to buy books if they're required to pump out two or three books a month just to survive. That would burn you out very quickly and the product coming out will not be quality. I'm sorry, but there is no way a person can pump out 300, 000 words a month, especially on an ongoing basis, and have those be truly awesome words. You can hate me for saying that if you want, but that is my opinion. I'm entitled to it. I write fast and I would kill myself trying to pump out an 80,000 word book a month.

Having said that; I feel the pressure to produce books fast, like any other author in our genre. About a year ago, I even went so far as to purchase a book about writing something like 3000 words an hour or something. It has these exercises in it where you just write ALL THE WORDS that spill from your brain in spurts. I tried one of the five minute exercises and my hands hurt so bad after that time, not to mention my brain and pride. The words on the page were just piled out with little thought and you weren't even supposed to care about that. You were just supposed to keep doing that and soon you'd have a big book finished. To be honest, the entire process made me feel dirty.

While I don't think you should angst over every single WORD that you write, I do still feel the craft of writing a quality story is everything to me as S.C. Wynne. Yes, I have written under other pen names, and I don't consider those endeavors quality. I wouldn't pretend they are either. But when I write a story as S.C. Wynne, every word comes straight from my heart and soul. Because I am S.C. Wynne in every fiber of my being.

Ultimately, we all do what we need to do to put food on the table. I get that. I'm not the keeper of your life. But I personally couldn't ever use a ghost writer and feel good about myself. That's my own thing. I actually love being an author and in order to wear that title, I believe I need to actually write my own books. Every single one. Good. Bad. In between. All the books are mine.


Friday, May 25, 2018

Put Some Mustard in Your Shoe...and other crazy things Amazon is making us do by Felice Stevens

When I was young, one of my favorite books was Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls, a collections of satirical, sometimes gruesome but always funny poems about bad children. A favorite poem was, Nothing to Do, by Shel Silverstein. It was short and silly and I've reproduced it with all recognition and copyright ownership to Shel Silverstein:
Nothing to do?
Nothing to do?
Put some mustard in your shoe,
Fill your pockets full of soot,
Drive a nail into your foot,
Put some sugar in your hair,
Place your toys upon the stair,
Smear some jelly on the latch,
Eat some mud and strike a match,
Draw a picture on the wall,
Roll some marbles down the hall,
Pour some ink in daddy’s cap —
Now go upstairs and take a nap.

Now you may ask, why the heck is Felice reprinting this silly poem and how does it relate to writing?

Because lately, this is how Amazon is acting. Like an out of control child with no repercussions. Reviews have disappeared, readers are unable to post reviews, authors are unable to sell their books in certain countries pre-orders gone awry. Perhaps though, the most terrifying is that there are many, many authors who have participated in Kindle Unlimited (KU) and have had, with no rhyme or reason, no explanation, their page reads stripped and their royalties held.
For those who don't know, KU pays authors by page reads. Yes you can still buy the book outright but for authors who write longer books, sometimes they make more money off of KU if their book is longer.
When authors have questioned Amazon, they are met with a stock response, such as "Your account has shown increased activity we have deemed suspicious). Amazon has not given these authors back their royalties and we are helpless in their iron fist. In some instances, they have suspended author's accounts, also with no explanation.
We cannot sue them; under our TOS when we agree to publish we agree to only arbitration in Seattle. 

I have no beef with KU—it has helped me in the past and I won't deny it can be a money maker. And for readers who read voraciously, it certainly helps. But I have never liked the fact that I have no idea what I will be paid month to month, I have no idea how Amazon makes up that pot every month. Amazon does not tell us this but we know that KU books are more heavily weighted in rankings and the algorithms so that you see them on the Amazon lists first. Fair? Not really. Because an author can SELL more books yet their rank is worse than an author who is only having their book read and returned. And for me? As a person who is in the business of writing, I want to sell.

Amazon also makes it harder every month to sell on their platform by refusing to look into accounts of authors who buy reviews, who stuff their books and have figured out other delightful ways to scam the system. They are quick to penalize authors who want to change their pre-order date and arbitrarily hold up books in the publishing queue with NO explanation. 

So all this may have been a VERY long winded way of telling you that I will no longer be putting my books on Kindle Unlimited. I cannot take the chance of Amazon willy-nilly deciding because I have a spurt of loyal readers, that I have unusual account activity and they will withhold my royalties. I will still sell on Amazon of course, but I will no longer be exclusive. When I release, it will be on iBooks, Kobo and Nook. I hopefully can entice readers over there with sales and promotions that are easier to come by. 

This isn't KU-bashing. Everyone has their own reasons for using it and I say more power to you. Like I stated earlier, I've used KU and had success. That's what the beauty of indie publishing is all about—that we, as authors, have that choice. I am taking my choice and putting my books in the hands of as many readers as possible to buy my books.

And with that being said, have you seen the gorgeous cover for Frankie-Unforgettable? It's coming in early June!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Back End

Happy Thursday!  So, Thursday is kind of the "back end" of the week,  hooray, we've almost made it, but there's still a lot of work to be done before the in this case, looong weekend. For us, the back end work is all of the editing and checking and adjusting that lets the work our narrators have completed take shape as an audiobook.  "Finished" projects will still be treated to a few more rounds of this behind the scenes quality process before finally being released for sale, but we send it out in as close to a perfect representation of the story as we can make it.
We are currently at this phase for 16 exciting projects. We have a few hot off the mic sent off currently in final review and coming soon:

"Family Man," by Marie Sexton and Heidi Cullinane.  Narrated by Colin Darcy.

"Beneath This Mask," is Book 3 in Victoria Sue's "Enhanced World."  Narrated by Nick J. Russo.

"Rip Cord," by Jeanne St. James.  Narrated by John Solo.

"A Full Plate," by Kim Fielding.  Narrated by Kenneth Obi. 

Check out Falcon Sound Company on Facebook, or at And check out these new books coming soon to Audible, Amazon, and Itunes! Be safe this weekend! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

We're at RT and there will be pics next week!

for now, enjoy a hot guy!

Well, a hot male basset hound...


Julia, BA, Kiernan and Sean

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Not a Fan of KU on a Good Day by S.C. Wynne

Good morning all!

I've seen a lot of gut wrenching posts on social media lately of authors who are in KU having their accounts closed by Amazon. That's a terrifying thought. It's just one more reason I don't care for KU.

If pirates upload your exclusive book to their site or to ibooks, you can lose control of your amazon account. Plus many of these authors Amazon is going after are having their royalties stripped from them, and Amazon won't tell them why. The most they tell the authors is there was suspicious activity on their accounts. How is that even legal? Usually when a company takes money from you they have to prove they have that legal right. Otherwise... isn't that stealing? Shouldn't Amazon have to have some sort of paper trail to show the author?

Now, I personally have never been a fan of KU as an author. I absolutely see the appeal for readers. It is a great deal for anyone who reads a lot of books. But as an author, having Amazon pay us LESS than half a cent per page just doesn't sit right with me. Writing is hard work. I'm not someone who uses ghost writers so every word has to come from my brain and out onto the page. It's exhausting. I love it, don't get me wrong, but if anyone ever tells you writing a book is easy, they're nuts.

Publishing with Amazon is a necessity. For most authors, they're the main source of our sales. I'm wide, but most of my sales come from Amazon. But using Amazon and being in KU are very different. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I was exclusive to Amazon. If I had to worry about click farms or pirates destroying my Amazon account I would have an ulcer.

I'm not condemning any other authors who feel KU is great for them. I'm just expressing my own personal preference. I think if you feel KU is your only way of feeding your family, go for it. You do what you need to do. I just personally don't have the stomach for KU.

I don't hate Amazon. In fact, I respect the huge platform they built for so many authors. It's wonderful that anyone who wants to can now publish their books. In the past if you didn't get picked up by a publisher, you had no real options. Now you do. Anyone can publish on Amazon. So for that, they get my kudos.

I guess the beauty of publishing is that we can handle our careers how we want. I don't like KU and so I won't use it very often, if at all. Others love KU and use it for all their books. To each their own, right? It's our careers and we get to choose how we do things.


Friday, May 18, 2018

Cover reveal and a hint of what's to come by Felice Stevens

Happy Friday!
I'm calling this Frankie Friday, as I'm beginning the lead-in to the release of the next book in the Man Up series: Frankie—Unforgettable. In case you haven't seen the beautiful cover, here it is.

Photography by Wander Aguiar, and cover art is by Reese Dante. As soon as I saw this shot, I knew I had to have it. The intensity of Frankie's stare, that little lock of hair over his brow and the crown!!  It was perfect for Frankie Marone, King of the Club.

Frankie and Aaron's book is a true story of the power of love and redemption. Remember, Aaron wasn't so nice to Frankie when they were together. And now that Aaron is out of jail, will he change his ways, or are old habits too hard to break? It's a tough road for both men to walk, especially with Frankie's family and friends.

And because I LOVE TO TEASE, you'll get a glimpse of Cort's love interest in the next book: Cort—Unbreakable. You won't believe who it is. No seriously. 😉😃

In other news, Michael Pauley has finished the audiobook for Perfect and it should be ready any day now. Michael was the "perfect" choice to capture Jeremy's New York City vibe and I couldn't be more thrilled with how he brought my favorite characters to life. 

Hope you all have a great weekend and happy reading!!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Get a Room!

This week, we begin a series of posts from narrator and Falcon Sound Company audio engineer, John Solo with some technical aspects of setting up a home studio.  So, if you've been dreaming of recording your own projects in the privacy of your own home for fun and or profit, you're in luck.

Ok, I get it. And I think you get it. I have a cool job (sticks his chest out and struts). I’m an audiobook narrator. In fact, short of being an astronaut or the lead singer in a long-haired rock and roll band, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do (sometimes it sucks being a bald dude that’s not fond of flying…). So it makes sense that the response I get most frequently after someone learns what I do for a living is, “How do I get into that?!?”. This response is almost always followed up by, “My husband/wife/mother/father/boss/friend always tells me I have a voice for radio!”. Not really what I do, but ok, I get it that there are some similarities between what I do and your favorite on-air personality. There are far more similarities between a lead singer and an audiobook narrator, but they never seem to mention that one… Stupid hair.

It’s not as easy as it looks, but considering no one ever sees me… What the hell. Today I am going to start talking about how to setup a home studio designed specifically for voice over recording.

I need to start with a disclaimer: I am not, and will likely never be, an expert. I do not claim that anything I say is correct. In fact, I am fully aware that I am a bumbling idiot that has to mess everything up at least 3 times (sometimes many, many more.. sigh) before I blindly stumble on a solution that works. I am simply writing down what I have done and what I have learned from it. It’s free advice, people, and it’s worth 
what you paid for it. :)

To record an audiobook professionally, on your own, you are required to wear 4 hats: Actor, Producer, Editor and Engineer. But, before you even get to all of that you need a studio.
To record a clean enough sound to produce an audiobook is challenging in a home environment. You have to take a few things into consideration: Room noise (external and internal noise), microphone and cabling, preamp, audio interface, and computer. Those are not laid out in any level of importance.

Today I’m going to talk about THE ROOM. Buh buh buh bummmm… There are 2 things that will mess up a voice over recording (other than the actor, bad material, and meteors): external noise (cars passing outside, dogs barking, roommate watching TV, furnace kicking on, computer fan noise) and internal noise (your mouse clicking, stomach rumbling, heavy breathing, the sound of your voice bouncing off of reflective surfaces and being recorded by your microphone, etc).

External noise is hard/expensive to fix. The only thing that stops it (especially low frequencies like car rumbles or the furnace) is mass. Mass as in concrete walls, sand, the ground, etc... There really isn't a cheap way to do it, and trust me, we tried. Our final solution was to build a cinder block room, fill the walls with sand, frame a room inside that room, double insulate it with Rockwool, and pray. We invested close to $5000.00 between material and labor, spent several months puttering around and then a concentrated 80 hour week to finish it (that was our own labor right there!), and finally it was almost isolated... almost.

Do you need to spend that kind of money and time to get a good recording? No. But it also greatly depends on your situation and your environment. Do you live in a secluded forest a few miles from civilization or do you live in the heart of a city? Those environments have a drastically different level of interfering noise. Do you intend to record 1 project a month, or 10? Less work means less time in the booth, so you can be a bit more selective about your chosen time of day for recording.

For us, we live in an area that has a lot of loud traffic; motorcycles, dump trucks, those annoying little tiny Hondas that the kids take the mufflers off of so that they sound louder… We are also fortunate enough to have a lot of work, so much so that only tracking in the late evening after those external sounds have died down isn’t an option. We needed to be able to track all day, and sometimes all night.

The best beginners' budget solution to stop outside noises is to find the quietest, most secluded space in your available area. Closets normally work really well for this, because not only do they have an extra wall in between you and everything else, but they are also
filled with more mass (your clothes).

Also, adjust the time that you record based on the noises of your environment. For quite a while we were only able to do any serious tracking after about 10 pm. The traffic outside settled down, the dogs stopped barking, no lawnmowers...

Now, one thing that you CAN start to control on the cheap is internal noise. The easiest ones to handle are mouse clicks, excessively loud breathing, stomach rumbling; all of these can be solved by either common sense, good technique, or lunch. Mix and match to taste. The harder ones (but still very doable) are internal sounds from your environment. These are often called first reflections. This is the sound of your voice bouncing off of the walls and other reflective surfaces and coming back into your microphone. To illustrate what this sounds like, go into your shower stall and clap your hands. Yep, right now. Clothes are optional. Do the same thing in your closet (easy to put some clothes back on, eh?). Now come out of the closet (see what I did there?). Compare the 2 sounds. What sounds different about the shower vs the closet? If you said first reflections (and perhaps 2nd reflections and beyond...) then you probably don’t need to be reading this article, do you? Proceed around the board, collect your $200 and go write your own damn article. Hahahaha.

If you had no idea what I was just talking about (it’s Monopoly, people… jeez) FIRST REFLECTIONS can be most easily illustrated by the sound of your hand clap in a reflective room (i.e. the shower stall): Pay attention to the sound heard coming from your hands, and then heard again a few milliseconds later as the sound of your hand clap bounces off of the shower walls and came back to your ear. It sounds lively, bouncy, some might even say louder.

The first sign of an amateur recording is a poor recording space, and typically it's obvious because of first reflections, or "echo" being heard on the microphone. To stop this you need to cover all of the reflective surfaces in your recording environment. To start with, select a space that has as few reflective surfaces as possible. Again, we come back to the closet. Your clothes don't reflect sound (unless you have that cool leather suit that Eddie Murphy wore in his comedy special, and if you do, sell that to invest in gear...). I have heard people suggest hanging egg cartons up, buying that fancy foam crap that you can get at your local big box music store, surrounding yourself with mattresses... I'm not going to discredit any of those suggestions... you have the internet, use it like i did. I will say this: I have tried almost all of them myself. For my money, if you have to go cheap, invest $50 in a 12 pack of
packing blankets. That’s right, like movers use (hopefully) to protect your valuables in the back of a UHaul. We got ours on Amazon. Get the thickest ones you can find. Hang them up all around you. Hang 2- 3 layers if you can. If you're not standing on carpet, put one below your feet. If your ceiling is drywall or some other reflective surface, hang a couple over your head.

I didn't come up with this idea. The pros did. Go into any professional recording studio and ask them if they have packing blankets anywhere. My money (and experience) say that they do. Record a short clip before the packing blankets and after the packing blankets. You'll be shocked. Our first "booth" we used to lovingly refer to as the packing blanket fort.

Next up: Microphones!

Find John and Falcon Sound Company on Facebook, or at

And check out John's newest narration, "Omega Shared," by Susi Hawke. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

RT18 - What We're Looking Forward To with BA, Julia, Kiernan and Sean

We're all going to be at the Romantic Times in Reno this week, so we thought we'd share what we're looking forward to.

Name three things you're most looking forward to at RT18.


Taking the free classes at the casino.
Late nights chatting with everyone.


Sitting in the lobby and seeing everyone and everything
Finding new authors to read
Seeing Reno!


Seeing my friends and hugging their necks
Meeting readers


Meeting up with friends and readers
Attending Make a Date with Harlequin as a signing author
Having a temporary tattoo station at the Wildest West Reader Carnival

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Gone Fishin'

Happy Thursday!  The weather in Ohio is finally so beautiful we just had to spend some time outside.  We'll be back next week with more audiobook goodness.  In the meantime, here's some new releases you might have missed.  Be sure to stop and smell the roses in your own corner of the world and have a great day!

"Day and Knight," by Dirk Greyson, narrated by Andrew McFerrin

"Volley Balls," by Tara Lane, narrated by Nick J. Russo

"Staggered Cove Station," by Elle Brownlee,
narrated by Colin Darcy.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Spring is Here! And I'm such a Fan - Andrew Grey

Spring is my favorite time of year and I saw yesterday's post from BA, Julia, Sean, and Kiernan and thought I'd keep up the theme.    Right now its early in the morning, I have my window open and birds are calling outside, its like I'm being serenaded.  What a wonderful way to start the morning.

So here are my five spring favorites

1)  The flowers - I love the color that spring brings after the bleakness of winter
2)  Warmth and sun - I'm ready for a little heat and brighter days
3)  Taking a walk with Dominic in the evenings
4)  Spring vegetables - The local farms start producing about May
5)  The ducklings and goslings in the park near the house.

I hope you have an amazing spring!!!!

Ask Andrew is your chance to ask questions of a gay romance author.  The questions can be about the writing process in general, writing sex scenes, gay men, sex, characters in romance, characters having sex... okay you probably get the picture.    I promise to answer your questions as frankly and with as much humor as I possibly can.  So please send your question.

So if you have a question, please send it to  This is different from my usual email so your questions don't get lost.  I will answer one question a week.

Please remember this is meant to be all in fun.  (I was going to say good, clean fun, but who wants that.)    So send me your questions and let's see what mischief we can get into.

Visit Andrew on Facebook:  and you can join Andrew's fan group All The Way With Andrew Grey.

Follow him on Twitter:  @andrewgreybooks

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Spring Favorites with BA, Julian, Kiernan and Sean

Today we're sharing some spring favorites with you!

1. Favorite flower
2. Favorite spring weather
3. Favorite spring food
4. Favorite spring activity


1. Roses.
2. Uh...doesn’t the fact that the weather changes from winter make it spring?
3. I don’t think I have a spring food...I eat tacos all year round.
4. Gardening


1. Prickly pear flowers and yucca
2. 70 and sunny
3. The return of salads and the retreat of soup
4. Going to yard sales!


1. Yellow roses
2. Cool, sunshiny days
3. Fresh berries and melons
4. Walking without freezing or sweating


1. Crocuses - I love those tiny flowers that tell you spring is coming. They close up tight on grey rainy days, but as soon as it's nice again, they open up - purple and yellow beauties.
2. I love the early spring days where it's a blue sky, around 10C (50F) and there's a lovely breeze happening. 
3. Asparagus is the first crop here in Ontario and I love it.
4. Walking along the canal, and going to the tulip festival.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Don't Take Those You Love For Granted By S.C. Wynne

Image result for retro father

Good morning!

This was a tumultuous week. My father went to the emergency room and next thing we knew he was scheduled for a pacemaker. He's 87 so surgery at that age is scary. I was a wreck and I'm only now feeling better. (Not that this is about me. I'm just sharing how scared I was.) He's doing fine and I'm so thankful I have a chance to spend more time with him and my mom. In fact I spent Friday evening with them, drinking wine and laughing and talking. It was wonderful.

But I will admit, after the first day in the hospital I went home and I cried. I felt like I was five years old and lost. I was so terrified of losing my dad. I literally can't conceive of a day when he won't be here. He isn't perfect and in fact he can be down right annoying sometimes! But he's my dad and he's always been there to protect me and support me no matter what. But for now, I still have him and I'm going to hold on tight to my mom and dad while I can.

It's amazing how we take those we love for granted. We always assume we have another day to make that call, or have that visit. But we never know when that won't be the case. I tend to be a slightly pessimistic person, and I always think when I say goodbye to anyone I love that it could be the last time I see them. I try not to think about that morbidly, but more as in embrace every second you have with those you love. Relish the touch of their warm skin and the light in their eyes. Hold tight to the sound of their laughter and the strength of their hugs.

What happened with my dad happens to people all the time, and the outcome isn't always as positive as ours was. We still have him here. He got to come home and we get to talk with him about his experience and share the ordeal with him. I'm thankful for that and mindful of how fortunate we were.

This scare was a good reminder that none of us are to be taken for granted. Spend time with the people you love. Enjoy them, don't simply put up with them. I'm going to be more diligent about taking that advice to heart myself. Perhaps you will also.


Friday, May 4, 2018

The characters inside me by Felice Stevens

I'm sorry if this is a bit long, but it's been inside me for a while now.

I recall when I first started reading in the MM genre and the excitement of discovering books that I became so enamored with, I'd email my friends and tell them: "You must buy these books. I love these characters. Let me tell you why." From Adrien and Jake to Ty and Zane, Nick and Perry to Julien and Cameron...Sam and Jory to Jake and Brandon, these books touched me. The characters stayed with me. These books and more became re-reads that now, even five years later, I happily lose myself in. I didn't forget them when the book ended.

A few weeks ago I was discussing this with some close writer friends. We were talking writing process and how deeply entwined we become in our character's lives. How these "people" aren't only made up characters in the pages of a book, they live in our minds and our hearts. You've probably seen our posts about our books and how we "fall in love" with the book we're writing, or how the characters affect us. I'm here to say it isn't a joke.  

As author, we don't say this lightly or to tease readers. Writing is such a solitary profession, it makes us happy to share these emotions with the people we feel will understand it the most: our readers. Nothing brings me greater joy than hearing my books made someone laugh, cry or, yes, even rage over a character's action.

Some people have told me my guys are frustrating and that they get so angry at them they want to knock some sense into their heads. I've gotten emails and private messages from readers apologizing for their low reviews, stating "so and so made me so angry. I yelled at him while I was reading the book." or "I couldn't stand so and so. He made me ragey." Honestly? I love those reviews. Why? Because I've made the reader feel something. No one can love every book—it isn't possible. So if you get angry or upset or cry because of something the character has done, know that I've probably felt those same emotions too, while writing the book. But people are flawed and imperfect. They make stupid decisions with bad consequences. Isn't that life? And isn't that what makes a book worth reading?

I've been editing Frankie—Unforgettable, book three of the Man Up series and this book—Aaron's story especially—made me cry while writing it. Some, but not all of my books have had that affect on me—the ending of A Walk Through Fire, Ash and Luke's reunion in After the Fire, Oren's coming out to his parents in One Call Away and the barn scene in All or Nothing. These men and the crises they go through are as real to me as if, well, they were real people. If I talk about them on social media, it's because I love them and want to share my feelings. One of the most wonderful things of being an author is to convey the love we have for our characters, because if they don't excite us; if we don't want to talk about them and their journey, how can we expect the reader to want to share it with us?

Writing is a business of course. Books cost money—lots of money to publish. Authors write and publish books to make money. But for some of us, the books are even more than dollars and cents. They are a part of our hearts. We live and breathe them for the months that it takes to write their story and then go through the rigorous editing process. So I hope you forgive me if I talk about them a bit too much. I found this quote from Mark Dawson's Self Publishing group and thought it appropriate, so I'll leave you with it:

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Every Breath You Take

It's Thursday in the Cafe! This week, narrator John Solo joins us to talk narration and production. So, let's all take a deep breath and get in-depth on breaths in audiobooks. Enjoy!

One of the most common complaints/pet peeves that I see brought up in the Audiobook forums I frequent is breathing.

I tried for a dramatic pause there, but it’s not so easily executed in the written form, is it?  Hahahahaha.

Narrators breathe a lot when recording an audiobook (I hope they continue breathing after their sessions…).  Some louder than others. Typically the complaint I see is, “He took a big breath after every line!”, or “His breathing was so loud I couldn’t concentrate on the story!”.  I have to admit, I myself will DNF an audiobook in the first 20 minutes for the same issue, but I don’t necessarily blame it on the narrator. Being in my line of work and knowing what I know about how an audiobook is put together, I lay the blame solely on the producer.

To illustrate what I’m speaking of here, let me lay out a few of the stereotypical annoying breaths that we hear:

The Gasper - This narrator sounds like they are getting ready for a deep sea diving adventure before
every line.  The only thing more impressive than the volume of their inhalations is the speed and frequency at which they take them.  And they seem to use up this air supply in short order, often times having to prepare for another submersion several times per sentence.  I see this a lot with people that come from a singing background (you’d be shocked to know how many of us do…).

The Hiccuper - Also known as The Reverse Gasper, this narrator will end every sentence with a quick intake of breath, resulting in a frog-like hiccuping sound.  (yes, frogs hiccup… or you’re not hanging around with the right frogs)

The Leisurely Man - Having no respect for silence, this narrator will pause a beat after every line, then take a ridiculously drawn out intake of breath that lasts longer than your phone battery.  I always picture these narrators wearing a red Hugh Hefner bathrobe and smoking a cigar…

I could go on, but I think we’ve all heard each of these narrators somewhere along the line, haven’t we?  I personally fall into the Hiccuper category, although I used to be a Gasper (blush...). It’s like a drippy faucet at three in the morning when you’re trying and failing to fall asleep.  You just can’t help but fixate on it.

My journey as an audiobook producer and narrator has seen me try to solve this annoying problem in a number of different ways.  It all comes down to whether to leave them or remove them, right? I’ve tried removing all of them, and that sounded unnatural. I’ve tried leaving them all in, and that certainly didn’t sound right.

To further complicate this issue, I have heard some producers claim that there have been studies suggesting that listening to long stretches of a person speaking with no breathing makes people uncomfortable (don’t ask me to link to them, because I can’t).  If I remember correctly, the study claimed that if you are listening to an audiobook and the narrator doesn’t take regular breathes your subconscious will automatically start attempting to breathe for them or some such nonsense. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but in my opinion it makes sense.  

This got me looking for another solution, and led me to investigate the source of the problem.  I mean, if this is such an issue then why am I not constantly annoyed by EVERYONE breathing in real life?  Does everyone in the known world have better breathing technique than professional narrators? Perhaps (you should meet some of us sometime… hahahaha), but the real reason that the breaths are sometimes amplified unpleasantly is called compression.  

Boiled down, compression turns the soft sounds up while making it harder for the loud sounds to get louder.  All professionally produced audiobooks are compressed, some quite a bit (it greatly depends on the narrator), the end goal being that all of the chapters are played back at a consistent volume so you don’t have to constantly turn it up or down to adjust for loud passages or soft bits.  Most audiobook distributors, such as Audible, have a loudness standard in place to ensure that volumes are standardized between books. I’m not going to pretend that they are followed all of the time, but a professionally produced audiobook will adhere to those standards, ultimately making your listening experience more enjoyable.  

A negative side effect of compression is that some stuff gets turned up that you don’t want turned up, such as stomach growls, lip smacks and yes, you guessed it, breaths.  So even a narrator with
impeccable technique will often have their breaths disproportionately amplified. It happens to the best of us. Long story short, if you are hearing a bunch of distractingly loud breaths in an audiobook, it’s not necessarily that the narrator is breathing too loud, but that his breaths are getting compressed and the producer isn’t compensating accordingly.

As a result, I spend much of my waking hours trying to perfect the art of breath control, albeit most of it’s done on my computer :)  As with most things in life, I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Some breathes need to be removed, some enhance the flow of storytelling, some are perfect but are just too damn loud so we turn them down, some could be better so we enhance them.  It’s much more art than science. Which is good, because I sucked at science (frogs do hiccup, i swear!).

I have heard fantastic narrators that I cannot stand to listen to because of poor production.  I’ve also heard an average narrator made to sound like a million bucks with the right treatment.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting for a second that the producer does all of the work here, because we don’t.  I work both sides of the fence, I think I’m qualified to shoot that one down. What I AM suggesting is that The Beatles wouldn’t have been The Beatles without George Martin. I'm also fairly certain that taking a breath is definitely a good thing.

Find John Solo and Falcon Sound Company on Facebook, or

And check out John's newest narration, "Omega Remembered," by Susi Hawke

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Flash fiction from BA Tortuga!

Here's a tiny flash fic from BA Tortuga to celebrate her upcoming re-release of Latigo.

"Will, have you seen..." Dean Haverty trailed off when he got to the bedroom he shared with his lover Will. Said lover was sprawled out on the bed, his lean brown body stretched out on top of the blue comforter, utterly naked.

Well, now, what the hell had he been about to ask? He'd been hunting something, but that tight cowboy ass was far more tempting.

Will raised his head, blinking at him with sleepy eyes. "You need something, babe?"

Dean chuckled, fingers going to the top button of his shirt. "Yeah. I think I do."

If you liked the flash fic, check out Will and Dean in Latigo, re-releasing May 8. Check it out here!



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BA’s is

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