Listen to my latest short story "A Dark Climb"

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On Both Sides (The Prometheus Saga) by Bria Burton
Book Review

Historical fiction meets science fiction in this delightful story about an alien finding its way through America during the American Revolution as a shape shifting being able to take multiple roles from different sides to gather information on our human existence. We also meet a couple of young brothers who end up at war and find themselves interacting with this alien as different people unknowing it is the same being. It was fun as the reader to be in on the joke as I read along seeing the alien interact with different people. Don't think that this is a spoiler because as you read the story it is made known well before it becomes a surprise to the characters. You are in on the secret the whole time as the reader. This is not a big reveal that has now been spoiled for you. Think of it as something to look forward to as you read this story. You're on the inside and all of the characters are not which was a fun dynamic.

I found myself chuckling throughout this story. There is some fun wit written into its prose. Though this story is short it covers a great span of time and throughout there are crafty epistolary sections. Reading the correspondence of letters between a woman of the era and the alien who keeps becoming someone else was fun. Their personalities are so different and you only get to read the letters written by the woman so filling in the blanks of what the alien's letter must have said was like a little puzzle that made me smile.

The story is not anything like the science fiction I usually read which is why I'm glad I read it. It kind of reminded me of Downton Abbey and The Patriot but with a splash of science fiction to change the flavor. The flavor is changed only in a subtle way and the reliance of the reader knowing the shapeshifter is an alien sent to gather intelligence on the human race made me read with a sharper eye. If you pay attention there are a lot of fun subtle clues that lead you to know just who the alien is though its appearance would cause you to think otherwise. Seeing how the other characters react upon meeting this creature was a lot of the fun of this story.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 17
Empeddigo by A.F. Grappin


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In this 17th episode I review Empeddigo by A.F. Grappin. This fantasy novel is much more than it seems. Listen to why I enjoyed reading it so much with all of its cool characters, settings, and big reveals that surprised me in a most enjoyable way.




Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Written by: Robert Jordan

This episode of Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit www.AudiblePodcast.com/DansBookReviews for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details


Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews | Episode 16
Spartanica by Powers Molinar

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In this sixteenth episode I review Spartanica by Powers Molinar. It's an awesome Young Adult Science Fiction adventure! Listen to hear why I enjoyed this book so much.




Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: 

Written by: Brandon Sanderson 

This episode of Dan Dan The Art Man's Book Reviews has been brought to you by Audible.

Visit www.AudiblePodcast.com/DansBookReviews for a free trial membership.

Audible Free Trial Details


Get an audiobook of your choice, free, with a 30-day trial. After the trial, your paid membership will begin at $14.95 per month. With your membership, you will receive one credit every month, good for any audiobook on Audible.

Cancel anytime, effective the next monthly billing cycle. Cancel before your trial ends and you will not be charged. Check out the full terms and policies that apply to Audible membership.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Speed Up Your Audio Editing in Audacity

While producing my first audiobook of a full length novel the first thing I realized was that the editing of my raw audio was taking me FOREVER. I had narrated a lot before but they were all short stories. This was an 8+ hour novel and it became very clear that the bulk of my time producing the audiobook would be spent editing. When you're getting paid per finished hour more production time means less money earned for that finished hour of audio. I wish I would have known the things I know now back then. I have since put into practice two different methods when recording narration. You may like one or the other better. Let's get into them and I sincerely hope that these methods will help you shave hours off of your production time. My Digital Audio Workstation of choice is Audacity because it's free, it has everything I need, and I love its user interface. The second method I'll explain goes into detail for Audacity users, but has relevance for other DAWs too. This first method works in any recording software.

The Clicker


I'll start with the easier of the two methods. For this you'll need a dog training clicker. They cost like 2 bucks and can be found at any pet store. When I write "use the clicker" you could also substitute this with making a loud click with your tongue or snapping your fingers. Every time you make a mistake reading your script stop, use the clicker, then start over on the line. When you finish your recording session you will easily be able to see in the waveform where all of your mistakes are. The loud clicker makes two quick tall spikes in the audio that are easy to spot. This means that instead of listening back through your entire recording to find and delete the mistakes, which takes forever, you can quickly spot them visually and delete them. This takes minutes instead of hours. It will save you a lot of editing time. You might still need to listen through to delete mouth and breath sounds or adjust the timing here and there, but without all the mistakes the recording will me much shorter and this step will take much less time. I love this method and use it all the time. To see what I'm talking about check out this great video from Edge Studios. Skip to 11:05 in the video to see this specific thing, but the whole video is great and don't forget to come back here because the best in this blog post is yet to come!



Punch and Roll


The second method is what many pro audiobook narrators use. It's called the Punch and Roll method. I used it on the last long audiobook project I did and it saved me a lot of editing time. It does make your recording time take longer, but saves hours in the end. If you have software that allows you to do this then it's quite easy. If you use Audacity like I do then it's still possible but requires a bit more work. Punch and roll allows you to stop when you make a mistake, then listen back to the flubbed line and continue recording over the top of it - replacing the mistake on the fly. When you're done recording the timing is all perfect and there are no bad takes that need to be edited out. I haven't found an article anywhere online I can point you to that shows you how to do this in Audacity, a popular free audio editor or DAW, but I'll try and explain it here as briefly as possible. If you use another Digital Audio Workstation like Adobe Audition then Google "punch and roll in Audition" and you'll find how to do it. Here is a method I discovered through some hard thinking and experimenting in Audacity.
Audacity Logo
Since Audacity doesn't have a punch and roll tool built in you have to get a little creative. Normally you place your playhead a bit before your mistake and then hit record - then the punch and roll tool lets you hear the first part of the line and start recording over the top of it replacing the mistake with your new take. Since we can't do that we're going to use two audio tracks to achieve the same thing, but we'll have to go back afterwards and delete the mistakes, but this will still be much faster and I'll explain why. Okay here we go.

Hit record. Narrate the script. Oops, you made a mistake. Hey it's cool, even the pros flub lines. Hit stop. Move your play head back to the beginning of the line you made a mistake on. Hit R to start recording on a second audio track. Listen to a few words and then start reading over your mistake. Keep narrating until you make a mistake again. Oops, that didn't sound right. Hit stop. Now move the cursor back to the beginning of the messed up line again, but this time make sure you're back on your original track. This time hit SHIFT+R to append record which means record on the selected track instead of recording onto a new track. The next time you make a mistake, stop, move your playhead back to the start of the line on the track without the mistake, then append record on that other track. When you're done you'll have two audio tracks with the good takes alternating from one track to the other. Now all you have to do is go back and delete the bad takes but now they're easy to find, like with the dog clicker, but even better - all the timing is perfect. If you don't know how to delete audio on a track without everything after it sliding back instead of leaving an empty gap like you want - select the audio you want to delete and hit CTRL+ALT+K to perform a split delete. If you're on a Mac it's Option+Command+K. Now you don't have to listen back through to fix the spaces between lines that are too long or short because everything was recorded with the natural timing instead of having to be fixed after the bad lines were deleted.

There you have it. The first method is a bit less technical and makes for an easier time while recording but still saves you lots of time. It may be the best method for a more dramatic reading of fiction because it's less distracting. The second method saves you the most time but may take a while to get used to. It may work best for non-fiction narration or if you get used to it then use it for fiction as well. If you currently hit record and don't stop until you're session is over with mistakes and all I strongly suggest trying one of these methods. If you do please come back and share your results in the comments. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson | Book Review

I enjoyed this story and I'm glad I read it but parts of it bored me. I love the idea behind it and the overall story was awesome but there were some flabby bits that the editor should have advised Brandon to cut out. There weren't many but sometimes there were parts that got off track and rabbit trailed into obscure musings that didn't move the story along. Even with these flabby bits, however, it was a really cool story with very interesting characters and a fantastic story idea executed fairly well. I gave it 4/5 stars instead of 3/5 stars because I liked the ending and thought it was funny and very clever.

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