Wrapping up Pre-production for Vacation by JC Miller

vacation-cover1I am excited to be approaching the final phase of a new pre-production process for my next audiobook. Vacation by JC Miller is a charming love story with an inventive redemption mini-plot. It will be about a seven-hour listen. Set in the gentle hills and stone villages of the Cotswolds of England and in the atmospheric Pacific Northwest, a vacation walking tour of pastoral England sparks an attraction between an introverted scientist and a wounded and independent history professor. Complications ensue of course.

This will be my eighth audiobook, self-produced in my home studio, a closet gutted and then treated for voice recording. One reason for this blog is to document the development of my craft. This post represents a new development in my process that I hope will enhance my storytelling and hence the listener’s audio experience.

I want to be a spell-binding storyteller. There I said it. It’s my goal. Nothing wrong with having a goal. And am I? A spell-binding storyteller? I don’t think so. At least not yet. But the glimpses I have are encouraging and fulfilling. And I do have an AudioFile Earphones Award to my credit now, so maybe I’m on the right path. The challenge is to keep moving on that path and turn those glimpses into an unbroken flow of compelling oral storytelling, and that is what my process is about. Some may say, “Just read the damn thing.” Sorry, I can’t. So, here’s what I have to do.

In my search to hone my craft I stumbled across The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne. Shawn is an editor, literary agent, co-writer, and ghostwriter with twenty-five years experience including the Big Five publishing houses, independent publishing, and Hollywood. He’s also a business partner of one of my favorite authors, Stephen Pressfield (The Legend of Bagger Vance, Gates of Fire, The Lion’s Gate, The War of Art) who also writes a lot about writing. The Story Grid is Shawn’s contribution to the editing craft, for which there is no course of study, no degree, no training ground beyond apprenticeship. In it, he shares his deep knowledge of the building blocks of Story and how to break a Story down into all of the functional pieces that make that Story “work”.

What does that have to do with producing and narrating audiobooks?

The more I work with Story, the more I find myself needing to think like a writer. I find that when I spend time with an author’s work and come to know the Story intimately, then much of my work as a producer/narrator is done. Tone, pacing, emotional content, breathing, subtext, I don’t have to think about these. They are there because I’m so intimate with the Story. If I fall in love with the Story, the telling is easy, and will hopefully capture the imagination of the listener in a way that silent reading does not. And that’s why I love the oral tradition. Great writing is great writing either way, but for me, a spell-binding storyteller is the bomb. Analyzing the Story and defining the building blocks, such as the concept of the novel, the theme, the stakes, the narrative device, inciting incident, climax, beats, the obligatory scenes of the genre. How is the climax imbedded in the inciting incident? Does a scene turn on revelation, or character action? It all helps me fall in love with the Story. I guess we’ll see, huh?

Production starts March 11, 2017.


Words on the page to Sounds in the air

Audiobook-Logo-White-2-No-BSuch a strong testimonial for the oral tradition. It’s not lost. Humans still have the urge to tell the story.

Silent reading is okay too.

Thank you, Little Red Reviewer.

the Little Red Reviewer

Remember when you were a kid, and someone read you a story? Didn’t matter if you liked the story or not, but I bet you enjoyed being read to.

If you’re a parent, I’m sure you read or have read to your kids.  Didn’t matter if you liked the story, but I bet you enjoy the experience of reading to someone.

Ever notice how the feel of the story changes when you read it out loud? When you’re reading out loud, you can control the pace of the words, where the pauses between phrases are,  you can use inflection how and when you want. The words on the page take on entirely new dimensions when they become sounds in the air, and if you are one doing the reading, you can connect with those words in an entirely new way.

I picked up an anthology the other day, and flipped…

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Audiobook: Taking On Water by David Rawding (Narrated by Curt Simmons) | Brian’s Book Blog

“Wow, I don’t like to start off a review with an interjection unless I really mean it, but seriously this book grabbed me by my haunches and threw me overboard.  James and Maya were so incredibly likable and relatable.  I feel like I knew them or had at least met someone like them once in my life…” [more]

Source: Audiobook: Taking On Water by David Rawding (Narrated by Curt Simmons) | Brian’s Book Blog

New Audiobook Release: Taking On Water by David Rawding


My audiobook production of David Rawding’s chilling psychological thriller, Taking On Water by David Rawding, was released on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes today.

Set in a small New Hampshire fishing town. When James Morrow, a social worker, first meets Kevin Flynn, he suspects the teen is being abused. To learn more about Kevin’s home life, he gets to know the boy’s father, Tucker, who’s a lobsterman. James is able to put his suspicions to rest, and the two families begin to form a friendship… [more]


OMARI AND THE PEOPLE by Stephen Whitfield Read by Curt Simmons | Audiobook Review | AudioFile Magazine Earphones Award Winner


Thank you to AudioFile Magazine for the Earphones Award for Omari And The People. This is my first audiobook award. I am truly honored it comes from AudioFile Magazine.3d2bcover

AudioFile Audiobook Review:  Like Robin Hood, the Phantom Thief, Omari, robs from the wealthy and gives to the poor. But he’s changed when flames engulf his City on the Sea of Providence, somewhere in Arabia. Curt Simmons has a great baritone voice with a charming timbre. He adds a subtle Middle Eastern accent to his narration of this atmospheric action-adventure. Besides Omari, the magical tale is peopled… Read More

Source: OMARI AND THE PEOPLE by Stephen Whitfield Read by Curt Simmons | Audiobook Review | AudioFile Magazine

Audio Review: Omari and the People by Stephen Whitfield – Siobhan’s Novelties

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-9-32-28-am“Wow. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Stephen’s book. It definitely intrigues me. And I’m happy to be given the opportunity to review the audiobook. The audiobook adds an extra level of interest. Stephen’s writing and Curt’s narration produce powerful images in your mind. The author has an intrinsic ability to shape his words into something tangible.3d-cover1 He doesn’t tell you what happens; he shows you. And Curt complements Stephen’s work beautifully. You can smell the fire and picture the people as they flee the burning city. Omari and the People is truly a character-driven piece.” more […]

Source: Audio Review: Omari and the People by Stephen Whitfield – Siobhan’s Novelties

Review: Omari and the People – Perusing Pages

“Omari and the People is a beautifully written adventure of Omari, a thief and self-proclaimed loner, and his journey not only leading a caravan of newly disenfranchised people across the dangerous, dry desert, but a journey to find himself and his purpose along the way. As the caravan makes its way across the desert seeking a rumored but never seen oasis, they have to overcome numerous obstacles from hunger and dehydration, 3d-cover1heat, and sandstorms to war with an opposing caravan and betrayal by those unhappy within their own camp. The narration brings this beautiful imagery and assortment of larger-than-life characters to life in a way I’ve never experienced.” more […]

Source: Blog Tour: Omari and the People – Perusing Pages