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The making of the audiobook “Widen” by Chris Rice

IMG_6323I have a good friend named Chris Rice who’s a brilliantly creative guy with an incredible singing voice. (“Tell Me The Story Again” is one of my favorite songs of his. Check him out on iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, etc). His lyrics are beautiful, deep, and thought provoking, while almost always light-hearted and loving. He’s also an amazing musician and can write a musical composition that’ll tug on your heart strings even without any lyrics.

Anyway, Chris has a book out called “Widen: A Collection of Poems” which is currently available on Amazon and Kindle) and I just love it.
Over coffee the other day he quoted John Milton and explained that poetry is a conversation of poets across centuries, or should be anyway. In his poetry, he makes references to a lot of great American poets, along with other great artists like Shakespeare, etc.
I have often taken my copy of Widen out under a tree on a windy, autumn day and just read and thought. That’s how poetry is meant to be “used” as I see it.
Recently, I told him that he should turn it into an audiobook. He agreed. I then told him HE needs to narrate it because there’s nothing like an author reading his or her own work to draw a reader in. He said absolutely he wouldn’t do it, and that I should. I argued that he had an amazing voice. He argued back that his voice only sounds good when he sings (which is ridiculous, by the way) and that he’s not an actor.
Whatever.

So after much back and forth, we decided that I’d narrate his poetry book.
So very soon, “Widen” will be coming to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes in audiobook form.

This weekend, we rode around Nashville shooting “content” for some short, ridiculous, but hopefully funny videos to promote the book, and had a blast doing it.
We’ll be posting them soon and hopefully I can figure out a way to post them on here as well.

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The Cultured Bumpkin

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Last week I launched a podcast called “The Cultured Bumpkin,” and it focuses on American short fiction and poetry.
I plan to have a little background on the author, the time period it came out of, perhaps the authors “world view” etc, and then do a reading of a short story, essay, or poem that they’ve done. So far I’ve posted two episodes featuring humorous, slightly obscure Mark Twain essays, and yesterday I interviewed author/playwright/theatre actor T.K. Lee where he talked about poetry and the things that have influenced it in America from our days as British colonies up until the present day. He then performed a reading from Emily Dickinson and then three more poems from his new book “To Square a Circle”. Hearing an author read his or her own work is great, but when that author is an award winning theatre actor, it’s an absolute delight. I look forward to posting that interview very shortly.

If you enjoy good ole American short fiction, I think you’d enjoy it and I’d love to have you check it out.
It’s available on:

iTunes
Google Play
SoundCloud

Have a good one!

A Backyard Walk to Clear the Head

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Sometimes I have so many ideas bouncing around inside my head that it starts to affect me. Does that ever happen to you? What do you do to about it?

When this happens, I find myself getting stressed out. I get more irritable and easily frustrated, and my creativity takes a steep nosedive. Not a good situation!

Time for a “reset”! My favorite way to get back into a relaxed, loving, and creative frame of mind, is to do the following:
I go outside (without my phone!) and then walk out into my country back yard for a little solitude, if only few a few minutes. I walk slowly. I take in the sunshine and feel the breeze. I listen to the birds. I try to smell as many things as my nose will allow- The earth, the vegetation, any wildflowers that I happen to pass, the abundant pine trees and rugged oaks. I try to notice small things-perhaps a honey bee hard at work collecting pollen, or an even smaller ant crossing my path with a burden several times her size, followed by a thousand of her closest friends. If I’m lucky, perhaps I’ll see a pair of bluebirds flitting in some nearby bush.

As I feel the tension starts to melt away, I tell the One who made all these things how amazing He is and how there’s no One like him. Then I thank him for leaving me His Book to tell me about all the “wondrous works” that He’s done so that I might have fellowship with Him.

At this point the tension has completely gone, my head is clear, my heart is singing, and I whistle a tune as I go back to whatever it was that I was doing.

And that’s how I clear my head.

A fun “paranormal” romance

I love a good love story. I’ve always been a big Jane Austen fan (Persuasion being my favorite), Shakespeare (although I prefer happy endings), John Donne/Christopher Marlowe/Elizabeth Barrett Browning/Lord Byron poetry, etc.

Recently, I read a “paranormal” romance by author J.L. Salter and published by Clean Reads Publishing called “The Ghostess & Mr Muir”, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
It’s about a young military vet named Levi Muir who moved to a small Alabama town to be near his aunt and teach high school English. While there, he meets a fellow teacher named Lucy that he really starts to like. Well, his apartment is in the located in the upper story of an old mansion, that turns out to be haunted by a very pretty ghostess who needs a favor, and who he ends up falling in love with. The love triangle which ensues is both interesting and humorous. I won’t spoil anything other than to say that I am a fan of good endings and I really liked how things ended up. Ok, no more. Go read it.

The story has a lot of great characters and I love J.L. Salter’s writing style. It flows easily without feeling rushed, with just enough detail to visualize everything perfectly but not enough to bog it down (details aren’t a bad thing. Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors and it takes him 10 minutes to describe someone crossing the street! But “The Ghostess & Mr Muir” is not Dickens-esque in its details, which suits the story perfectly). I am definitely interested in reading more of Salter’s books!
You can check out the Kindle version HERE.

I recently was able to narrate and produce it in audiobook form for Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, and it was so much fun!
Here’s the link to it on Audible.com.

I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.

How to make your book into an audiobook

If you’re an author or an aspiring author, you ought to check out ACX.com. Audiobooks are becoming more popular by the year, and ACX is a great platform for turning your work into an audiobook. How does work?

-Go to ACX.com and create a free profile (If you’re an Amazon Prime customer, just login  like you would on Prime)

-Fill out a book profile and post it (for free)
-then you can wait for people to audition, or you can find narrators and ask them directly if they’d like to do it.

-you can pay the narrator/producer a per-finished-hour rate, or do a royalty share deal where each of you split the 40% royalty. The former allows you to keep all the royalties, and the latter allows you to get it made into an audiobook without any money up front)

-once you find a narrator, you can agree on a timeline for finishing, and then wait to review the finished product.

-after the narrator/producer uploads the sound files, make sure that you review them all before approving and sending to ACX! (Every once in awhile a mistake, repeat, etc will make it onto the track, and you don’t want that)

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Hamilton, and history

History is and always has been one of my absolute favorite subjects. Although I mostly narrate fiction titles, I love doing history, and reading it for pleasure as well.
American history with an emphasis on the Revolution is one of my favorites, and more specifically, the war in the “Southern department” in 1780-81.

I recently did a short bio on Alexander Hamilton (you can find it  HERE), and I’ve got two more that should be out soon.
If you get a chance to listen and rate it, I’d love to hear from you! (email at the top of the page. And I’ll send you a free download from something else I’ve done)

Re-charging those “creative batteries”

Oh man, this past weekend was awesome. I had kind of a creative retreat up in Nashville, TN, and I came back feeling recharged, refreshed, and ready to create.
I arrived at my (super creative) friends house just off 12 South in Nashville early Saturday, then we went and got coffee at the Frothy Monkey (the one in West Nashville) and talked about our upcoming projects (Audiobooks for me, and music albums for him). After that we went for a day hike in park west of Brentwood, then went to an awesome new burger place on 12 South (I forget the name, but not the burger!). After that we listened to some new music in his studio, walked around some more, got supper at the Tap Room, and then painted for the rest of the evening.
The next morning we went to Frothy Monkey again (I got a vanilla latte and a Blueberry Lemon scone), and then I hit the road.
It was a chill, slow moving weekend, and it was fantastic.

Hope to do it again soon and I hope you’re finding ways to stay creative too!

“Negativity” can be good

In this day and age it’s fashionable to “cut all the negativity out of my life” and “remove myself from toxic people” etc, etc. If that’s what you’re ACTUALLY doing then that’s great,  but I’ve found that when a lot of people say this they are referring criticism of any kind, even if they could learn from it and get better at whatever they’re trying to do.
Anything short of applauding adoration is, to some people, considered “negativity” that needs to be “cut out”.
Now that’s great when it truly is catty, non-thought-out criticism designed to get a reaction out of you. This stuff really is worthless and you can’t let it keep you down.
Blow it off. Keep trucking.
However, if you get too used to dismissing anything you don’t like, then you may end up disregarding some pretty sound advice from time to time from people much wiser than you who would like to help you improve and WANT you to succeed.

Anyway, keep things positive, but don’t be afraid to listen to and learn from criticism when it inevitably comes your way!

Inspiration and 12 South Nashville, TN

I need some inspiration, as we all do from time to time to be able to think clearly and be creative. This weekend, I plan to do something about it.
I plan to go to Nashville and hang out with a friend of mine who’s a recording artist. We’re nothing alike in some ways (he’s a tenor and can sing like a bird, I’ve got a deeper voice and can’t sing!), and just alike in others (we both love Shakespeare).
We like getting together from time to time to just sit on the patio of a 12 South coffee shop, walk down to the park, mosy into one of the outstanding eateries down that street, and maybe even head out to Lake Radnor or Arrington Vineyard. Usually we also set up easels somewhere and paint into the wee hours.
All the while we just talk and “muse” and I always come away re-charged creatively. It’s a great time and I always enjoy it.
My friend “gets” me, and I think everybody needs somebody like that. Hope you’ve got someone like that in your life too!

(Photo taken at Lake Radnor. Great little walking trails around the lake there. It’s beautiful, and you should definitely go)
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Free Audible audiobook code

If you’re anything like me, you like free stuff. Also if you’re like me, you like listening to audiobooks.

I have a few download codes that I’d like to give away in exchange for honest reviews  on Audible.com, so if you’d be interested in a free audiobook, just shoot me an email using the “Contact” link.

Currently I have codes for a short history bio on Alexander Hamilton, but I also have a romance title, a spy thriller, a sci-fi title, some more history, and a fantasy title coming out soon if any of those genre’s interest you.
Let me know! I always like getting feedback from fellow audiophiles, and hearing what works for them and what didn’t with particular narrators. Happy listening!