Sunday, September 29, 2019

2019.09.29 A Big Ask

With respect and a dollop of humility, I write to ask for brief reviews on Amazon for my memoir God Is Not A Boy’s Name. Becoming Woman. Becoming Priest.  A review only has to be 1-2 sentences. You do not have to have bought the book on Amazon to review it, and the audiobook is a brand new addition to the print version. Here is the link https: . Click on image then under author's name where it indicates "20 ratings" then to"Click here to write a review."  And here is a moi-pose with two of my books, a red blouse for spiritual pizazz, a corpus-free crucifix, and a stiff clergy collar for show.  Thank you.
         Recording a book is an adventure with quirks. It’s not at all like doing a live reading. I knew audiobooks were on the rise. I contacted my publisher to inquire about audiobooks, specifically mine. “Sure, we’ll publish it.” They sent their specs.  The catch? I had to find and finance a sound proof studio with good recording equipment—pricey—to lease. I even called Perkins School for the Blind. They do not lease studio time, nor does MIT. I nearly gave up but instead I lobbed a “Hail Mary pass” to Facebook. Tap, click, ping. A next-door neighbor replied immediately, letting me know that another neighbor had such a studio in their basement. Right next door!  Meant to happen, a friend chanted. Karma, karma, another said. OMG, said I. 

         I called the studio neighbors. I’d heard their backyard concerts many times, but I’d never met them and had no idea they were so charming and ran a family business, Amador Bilingual Voiceovers, in their basement studio. Here is a link:  Contact the Amadors if you would like to lease studio time. I also didn’t know that I could help them by signing a petition for a building variance they needed to stay in this neighborhood. We negotiated times (early evenings ) and leasing fees (affordable). And Lo! I launched my short career as a recording artist; they got their variance.

         Setting/Scene: basement room small, dimly lit, filled with computerized equipment, looking like Mars to me. A high stool where I sat to record; a three-sided enclosure in which there was a laptop screen with my document on it, and a large adjustable round microphone to pick up my dulcet tones as I spoke. Flipping printed pages makes too much noise. I silently thumbed the screen to advance the pages as I read. I got so tense my thumb ached.
         Action: I’m a soloist speaking into the box. I learned which buttons to push to stop and start and how to use the little cricket to click when I made a mistake or coughed. Magically, I read over the muffed word or sentence or paragraph, then read on. The clicker signaled the editor where there was need for a correction. 
         Rules: Keep your mouth clean. I  rehearsed out loud every time before a recording session. Who knew there were such things as “mouth sounds”? You’re not aware of them as you speak, but the sophisticated equipment picks up tiny clicks of the tongue, teeth crunches, exaggerated swallowing, not to mention heavy breathing. I had to wear soft silent clothing, which meant no corduroy, and short sleeves, make sure I was well fed so my stomach wouldn’t rumble, and always have warm water at hand. I have a chronic unpredictable cough which I prayed away, not always successfully.
         Emergency: One evening I arrived, checked the manuscript, and glanced at the big computer on which I could see the sound screen. It was blank—flat line. I panicked. No one was in the adjoining office. I ran upstairs and called out, HELLO. Someone came running and consoled me. We went down to the studio, where my savior clicked the Z key, and VOILA the deleted text reappeared. 
         Experience: highly disconcerting and exhilarating. There was no audience, no one to flirt with. Just me and my laptop. Also, no tangible product, no sweet words to adore or edit out. I had to read my book exactly as it is written—word for word—into the air. Despite being a high school thespian, I’m no actor. I decided not to try to imitate a bishop’s voice, or God’s, whose voice sounds just like mine anyway. Lovely. A standout feature in the neighborhood train, passing by hourly, clang-clanging as RR gates descended and ascended. My ears tuned in; I paused to give the train the right of way.
         Cast: Besides me, Steven Hopkins, the sound engineer, equivalent to an editor for a print document. Some nights he stayed late to be in the studio with me. This was honestly like having a chaplain at my side when my insides curled up in a tight ball of anxiety. Steven is a friendly gifted young man with an astonishing ear. He doubled as the clicker, stopping me for re-reads/edits.  Contact him about projects:
         Reprise: Steven asked me to return after I’d finished and said THE END. (Yes, I even recorded that, imagining The End scrolled across the screen in large letters accompanied by goofy music like the end of all those Looney Tunes I’d watched as a kid.) Steven was sound-fussy and wanted me to re-record a three-word phrase and one chapter title over and over till it was perfectly clear. I think it was Chapter Nine. Loving Alkies.  Then Steven cut and pasted the perfect re-read into the text—vertical blue lines mashed accordion-style into one another, an image so different from horizontally ordered words marching across a printed page. 
         Product: My180-page book God Is Not a Boy’s Name. Becoming Woman. Becoming Priest has an Introduction, 19 chapters (most about ten pages), and an Epilogue. My limited voice lasted about an hour at a time. It took me 20 hours @ $50 an hour. The publisher took some more time to listen and approve it and advertise it on their site and with Amazon the “Almighty” 

        You can pause, click, course correct, and carry on with grit and grace even after blunders.
        There are friends to help even when you think you’re alone in the dark. 
        Loving thy neighbor includes being loved by thy neighbor. 
        You can try things you never imagined were possible.
        Should you be willing to do an Amazon review there’s a free audio sample to click.