Tag Archives: storytellers

ACX Storytellers: Wendy Lindstrom & Julia Motyka

Wendy Lindstrom’s previous post on the blog, Writing For Audio, was such a success that we’ve asked her back. This time, she speaks with the narrator of her popular Grayson series, Julia Motyka. Read on to find out about Julia’s emotional connection to Wendy’s characters and how her career on stage informs her audiobook work.

Wendy Lindstrom: The inflections in your voice and the ways in which you approach each character’s dialogue are just wonderful. What is your process for bringing a character to life within a book?

Julia: I come to the world of audiobooks from the world of theater, so I find that I approach each book I narrate very much as I would a play, or one person show. As I read the book for the first time, I create a spread sheet of every character which contains their age, physical features and a few key descriptive words about their personality. I note whether the character has an accent of any kind or is described vocally in any way as well. After having read the book once, I look back both at the primary scenes a character takes part in and also at my description sheet.

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“Grayson” series narrator Julia Motyka

Most often, what happens next is a bit of a mystery- even to me! I sit quietly for a little while and kind of meditate on each character. I know it sounds silly, but I start to feel what it would feel like to be them, in my body; How they carry themselves, where they speak from (are they more intellectual or sentimental), etc. When I have a feeling for the essence of the character, I try on a little bit of their dialogue. If that feels ‘right’, I try a little bit more.

I don’t rehearse the entire book- that would take WAY too long, and besides, it would take a lot of the fun of the spontaneity out of the recording process, but I do try to get as fully ‘inside’ each character as possible before recording so that, as I read their dialogue, I feel fully invested in who they are are where they’re each coming from.

Which scene(s) in Shades of Honor/The Grayson Brothers Series did you most enjoy recreating and why?

Julia:  There were so many!! Truly! But, if I have to choose… [Spoiler Alert!] I’d say the scene(s) surrounding Evelyn’s father William Tucker’s death. I became very fond of that character and felt a particular affinity for him. I have a very close relationship with my father (both of my parents, actually) and spent several years caring for him when he was in ailing health in my late teens and early twenties, so that provided an added connection for me within that material.

727tpe4761sf5cg11374614520830I also felt the writing in that section to be particularly evocative and very moving. I had to stop narrating in the booth more than once to blow my nose and dab at my eyes! It’s always the best when the investment in a given set of circumstances and characters becomes overwhelming to that degree. It makes me feel like I’m doing justice to great writing!

Can you describe a typical day in the studio during the recording of Shades of Honor/The Grayson Brothers Series? For instance, what happens the day of recording, and how long are your days in the studio?

Julia:  A typical day of recording for me is pretty simple. I’m generally in the studio for about 5 hours per session (some people prefer a 6 or 4 hour session, but 5 is my preference). I generally take about 5-10 minutes every 60-90 minutes to use the restroom, rest my voice, and/or eat a snack.

On the actual day of recording I get up pretty early, do about an hour of yoga, have a good breakfast, and steam my voice (Keeping your chords well hydrated is of paramount importance! If I’m recording a lot in a given week I’ll likely be steaming my voice at least 2x per day for about 20 minutes each time). Before I leave home, I warm my voice up a little bit – everyone is different, but I do little articulation exercises and sometimes even little vocaleases to get my voice as pliable as possible. I also look over the pages I’m hoping to record that day, reminding myself of any new characters that may be emerging in the book, and perhaps running through a couple of voices to make sure I have easy access to them.

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ACX Author Wendy Lindstrom

What one piece of advice would you share with those who would love to do what you do for a living?

Julia:  I LOVE what I do and feel so lucky to get to do it but people often think it’s MUCH easier than it is!! If you’re interested in narrating audiobooks, find a book you like and choose a chapter. Then record yourself reading it out-loud while sitting COMPLETELY STILL! Stop and go back every time you make a mistake, have to clear your throat, or swallow. If you still enjoy it (like I said, I LOVE it, but it’s not for everyone), listen back and see if you like what you hear. If you’re still giving yourself the thumbs up, consider putting a demo together and creating an ACX profile! The book world is booming with opportunity! Go get ’em!

Julia can be found on via Brick Shop Audiobooks’ ACX profile or at her website, www.juliamotyka.com.

What did you learn from Julia’s interview? Leave a comment and let us know!

ACX Storytellers: MCA Hogarth

ACX author M.C.A. Hogarth currently has 15 titles for sale on Audible, and has hit upon a ‘novel’ way to fund her audiobook productions and market her titles at the same time: Kickstarter! Today, we’re talking crowdfunding and how listening to her audio versions inspires M.C.A.’s next title.

Hi M.C.A. Tell us about your current audiobook project on ACX.

I’ve got quite a few irons in the fire! My space opera adventure Earthrise is in the approval queue now, with a science fiction short story collection, a novella and one fantasy short in the production phase, all with actors I’ve found through ACX.

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ACX Author M.C.A. Hogarth

Why did you decide to produce audio versions of your titles?

Fellow indie author Meilin Miranda mentioned her positive experience with ACX, so I decided to investigate and maybe test the waters with one of my shorter works. I’d never listened to an audiobook before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect of the auditions. But I was blown away by the experience of hearing an actor interpret my works. In some cases, I learned things about the piece I hadn’t realized until someone else emphasized things I might not have noticed.

Has having your audio version produced changed the way you see your books, or the way you write?

I joke with my readers that there was MCAH writing before audiobooks, and MCAH writing after—that’s how big a difference it’s made! For instance, Jim McCance, who narrated my fantasy short “Fire in the Void,” made the anger of the narrator so palpable that I realized he wasn’t done yet—and that spawned an entire new novel!

Constructed languages are also a big feature of my science fiction and fantasy, and hearing actors take on that challenge has been instructive. Moe Egan‘s pronunciation of the alien words in “Freedom, Spiced and Drunk,” was so foreign to the way I heard it in my head that I realized there must be other populations on that world who speak the exact same language, but with an accent so different it would feel like a language barrier to the characters. That became a major plot point in my Stone Moon Trilogy.

This doesn’t even count the times when having an audiobook performance of a piece has driven me to write more in that setting, just to hear the actor continue to voice those characters. These days I try to schedule my projects so I’m approving audio in a setting that I’m also writing in, just for the way it makes me eager to get back to the keyboard.

You’re known for using the crowdfunding website Kickstarter for your audiobook productions. Tell us about that.

I use Kickstarter as both a marketing and funding platform for my audiobook editions. Because my work has been solely available in print or e-book prior to my first audiobook a year ago, my fanbase primarily consists of people who prefer those formats. Many of them are delighted to learn I am branching out! Now, when I use Kickstarter to raise funds for my print editions, I fold the audiobook edition in as a stretch goal, which gives me the opportunity to both gather money to pay my actors and give my readers a chance to listen to the audiobook edition and maybe become listeners as well as readers. Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice has been very useful in that regard.

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To date, I’ve run seven successful Kickstarters (out of seven!). In fact, my best-selling audiobook is the recording of my book on how to use Kickstarter! I wrote From Spark to Finish: Running Your Kickstarter Campaign to help other people succeed with their crowdfunding dreams and decided to produce it as an audiobook when I read that nonfiction is the fastest growing market segment in audio. That’s definitely so in my case!

What advice do you have for other authors who are considering having their titles produced as audiobooks?

Be brave! Don’t wait for your actor to come to you. Go hunting for your voice. And most importantly, be mindful of your budget. There are so many amazing actors out there you can easily overrun your budget paying for their time!

What’s your next project, and when will we see it on ACX?

Next year I anticipate having another five or six fantasy and science fiction titles available, including my award-winning short “In the Line of Duty.”

Thanks for sharing, M.C.A.

Have you experimented with crowdfunding your audiobook productions? Tell us in the comments.