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.

S.C.
www.sc-wynne.com









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 www.falconsoundcompany.com.





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.



BA

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


Julia

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


Kiernan

Seeing my friends and hugging their necks
Meeting readers
Networking


Sean

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 andrewgreybooks@comcast.net.  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:  https://www.facebook.com/andrewgreybooks  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


BA

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


Julia

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!


Kiernan

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


Sean

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.