Available audiobooks narrated by Ivy Tara Blair

collar album cover

J. Fitzpatrick Mauldin: And so I went and got another beer from the fridge, filled the bath with hot water (because it’s been freakin’ cold outside), locked myself in the bathroom and took a listen.

I sat in the tub till my water went cold, eyes wide, headphones in, attention fully arrested.

Ivy brought The Collar to life in ways I never thought possible. And so, I invite you to listen to her performance, hear her tell the story of an unnamed girl and how that girl’s special gift has stolen all choice from her, but yet she is still not hopeless.

in its entirety: The Collar a short-story by J. Fitzpatrick Mauldin

 


a selection from The Reaping by K. Makansi – amazon  |  audible

 


selections from The Sowing by K. Makansi  –  Amazon | Audible

 


selections from The Dead by James Joyce  –  AmazonMusic  |  Spotify | GooglePlay

The Reaping audiobook has been released!

I confess, I’m not much on keeping up with the blog or twitter currently – life is doing its thing at me right now :)

But I’m excited to post links to audible and amazon for K. Makansi’s The Reaping, released a bit over a month ago.  Recording on book 3 of The Seeds trilogy will start in September!

amazon  |  audible

A Lovely review of The Sowing!

A review of The Sowing from Audiobook Reviewer.com has made my morning, I’m tellin’ ya!  A quote from the larger review:

This is a great novel. The world building is seemingly effortless. While it seems like a natural issue in a post-apocalyptic world, I haven’t come across a novel focused on food and seed production before. I also really like that there was a lot of focus on the science. It is well explained and distributed in dialogue throughout the novel, so it’s not confusing. The characters, especially Remy and Valerian, had natural voices, which made it easy to relate to them and to like them. While focused on two main points of view, each of the characters has a diverse group of friends and colleagues that create a amazon sowing covergreat dynamic to dialogue and activity throughout the novel. The banter among the character groups was comfortable, believable, and well-paced. Similarly, the plot has a great distribution of action and explanations. The end comes has a good stopping point in the story, but leaves the plot open for the next novel.

The narration by Ivy Tara Blair is excellent. The characters are well voiced and distinguishable. The voices also seemed aged well. The teenagers sounded like teenagers without having the worst kind of whiny teenage voices. The production quality is also great as well. I would recommend this novel to another who likes a young adult science based post-apocalyptic story.

Thanks Poonam :)  This kind of detailed review is exactly the kind of review I would seek, if I were the one seeking a book to listen to – and detail itself is its own compliment.

The Collar, by J. Fitzpatrick Mauldin – a short story (free!)

This short haunting audiobook deserves its own post :)  However, as I am currently stricken with the flu (I do a lot of good work with the flu…) I’m going to keep it short and sweet and let the author speak:

J. Fitzpatrick Mauldin: And so I went and got another beer from the fridge, filled the bath with hot water (because it’s been freakin’ cold outside), locked myself in the bathroom and took a listen.

I sat in the tub till my water went cold, eyes wide, headphones in, attention fully arrested.

Ivy brought The Collar to life in ways I never thought possible. And so, I invite you to listen to her performance, hear her tell the story of an unnamed girl and how that girl’s special gift has stolen all choice from her, but yet she is still not hopeless.

 

in its entirety: The Collar a short-story by J. Fitzpatrick Mauldin

Enjoy :)

It’s interview time!

selections from an interview for audiobookreviewer.com

How on earth did you get into narrating audiobooks?

I’ve been performing and reading aloud to people since I was a kid. As a child I read to my family on road trips. From six years old on, I was on stage in plays and musicals. When my children came along, I read aloud to my them for 4 or more hours per day.

A good friend of mine got a job delivering pizzas, and survived the hours spent in the car by listening to audiobooks. A new Lois McMaster Bujold book was published (A Civil Campaign) with no audiobook to accompany it, and upon learning I was reading it aloud to my kids, she asked if I’d just turn on a recorder – and send her the files. So I did.

When that book was done, she asked if I’d go back and read the entire series, as the audiobooks available for it at that time were *cough* pretty unlistenable. So I did.

Other friends requested books – so I recorded more. I got involved in local productions of spoken word with foley & soundscape. I got better and better at sound engineering, foley and sound tracks as well as voicing, pacing and all aspects of performance.

And then friends suggested, strenuously, that I go pro – so I did :)

Continue Reading →

Recording for noise…without noise – bit depth, sample rate & compression

For the podcast I’m recording [How the Tiger got her Stripes…so to speak], I’m including a few details on the settings I record and edit with and why.  My research on what each number means is a bit rusty, so I’m giving myself a brief refresher course on How Digital Recording.

My digital recorder is set for 24-bit depth, 48 kHz sample rate, and .wav uncompressed format.  My stereo microphones, indeed my entire chain, were all selected for the lowest noise floor I could get.  Why?  Because less noise…allows me to make more noise.  Lets keep going, cause that really does make sense in a couple of minutes!

Why record at 24-bit depth?  Especially since Audacity only edits at 16, and the final Audible file will be at 16 as well.  Well, where I really need the extra dynamic range & excellent signal-to-noise ratio, is in the actual recording process.  Having the room to be ‘too loud’ and not clip, or ‘too soft’ and have clean sound I can boost in post, means far fewer technical issues to go back and re-record.  Instead, I can fix these problems in post production.  Recording at 24 means retaining a clean too-loud, retaining a clean too-soft, with best overall signal-to-noise ratio my machine can give me.  I’m a dynamic performer, so this is important to me.

The extra headroom provided by 24-bit can also be heard as physical soundspace in which recording was made – and this sense of physical presence matters hugely to me.  I want to sound like a real person, not a flat voice emerging out of a void.  This is the same logic behind retaining most inhales and subtle mouth noises in my performances – I want to sound like a real person reading to you, performing for you.  I carefully plan breaths and subtle noises into the performance – they are never random; they are all intentional.

This style decision is pretty controversial – either you love it or you hate it :)  I’ve had more than one fan write to me saying, ‘You have ruined me for all other audiobooks! No one breathes! You can’t hear the soundspace! Other books all sound airless!’  This gives me non-malicious glee.  Yes – this is what I intend as a producer.  Similarly non-fans have written exhorting me to edit for god’s sake! not realizing that the final product is edited to within an inch of its life and retains indicators that a real person read the book, on purpose.  Anyone with an ear for editing or knowledge of production or the experience of listening to a thousand audiobooks can hear the careful editing.  The difference between untutored ‘real sounds’ recording and what I do is vast – but I can appreciate that at first glance one could make that snap judgement, or just dislike the result, no matter how polished.

So! What are the technical advantages of that 24 bit depth, that allow these performance elements to shine in the recording?

From:  Sample Rate and Bitrate: The Guts of Digital Audio by Dan Connor

In general, the higher bitrate the ‘smoother’ the sound will be. 8-bit sounds rather grainy and harsh whereas 16-bit sound sounds quite a bit better. 24-bit sound is used by most audio professionals these days not because it sounds so much better than 16-bit sound but because the higher accuracy is useful because so much is done to the audio in the recording, mixing, and mastering process. Higher bitrate means that each change that is done to the sound produces a more accurate result. Imagine only being able to describe the sounds you’re recording with two volumes: on or off. It would be impossible to produce any music at all with such a low bitrate.

 

I record and edit at 48kHz sample rate.  Why record sounds literally above the range of the human ear?  Here’s a great explanation – one that my ear agrees with:

From:  16 Bit vs. 24 Bit Audio by The Tweak (tweakheadz.com)

Nyquist Theory and Sample Rate

This theory is that the actual upper threshold of a piece of digital audio will top out at half the sample rate. So if you are recording at 44.1, the highest frequencies generated will be around 22kHz. That is 2khz higher than the typical human with excellent hearing can hear. Now we get into the real voodoo. Audiophiles have claimed since the beginning of digital audio that vinyl records on an analog system sound better than digital audio. Indeed, you can find evidence that analog recording and playback equipment can be measured up to 50khz, over twice our threshold of hearing. Here’s the great mystery. The theory is that audio energy, even though we don’t hear it, exists as has an effect on the lower frequencies we do hear. Back to the Nyquist theory, a 96khz sample rate will translate into potential audio output at 48khz, not too far from the finest analog sound reproduction. This leads one to surmise that the same principle is at work. The audio is improved in a threshold we cannot perceive and it makes what we can hear “better”. Like I said, it’s voodoo.

Pretty cool, eh?

In the end, everything I record is down-sampled *sigh*.  Audible’s file parameters are 16 bit, 41kHz, 192kbs compressed MP3s. (here insert an entire soliloquy full of pathos bewailing MP3 compression losses)  They might even convert to mono – I don’t have the heart to check :)  So why go to all the trouble?  Because the more detailed and cleaner the original raw data, the more fidelity you retain even after effects, editing & processing.  I have such lovely hardware – I’m willing to go to the trouble to use software settings that let the warm, detailed, sympathetic signal shine.

This makes me happy all on its own!  But the end result of beautiful audiobooks for you to listen to, and to attract new authors to employ my talent and skills – well, that’s the name of the game :)

The Dead *and* The Sowing hit the digital shelves AT THE SAME TIME??? I may not make it you guys…

   amazon sowing cover   the dead cover 3

K. Makansi’s The Sowing, book 1 of the Seeds Trilogy audiobook just hit the shelves! available on:  Amazon  Audible

James Joyce’s The Dead, recorded with Tiny Guppy Mystery, is out on: GooglePlay, Spotify & Deezer.  It’s coming out across a slew of platforms, which will eventually include iTunes, AmazonMusic and AppleMusic – as well as a pile of streaming music sites.

I’m about ready to hyperventilate here :D

This means I have had 2 audiobooks come out in one week…I’m not sure my heart can handle that… *hand on chest*  I may have had too much coffee to deal with this level of crazy!

On a day when there is yet another tragedy in the public eye, I’m holding this private success close to my heart, a joyous tiny brightness nothing can dim.

Self promotion & artists…and the fact that we kinda suck at that ;)

What is it about unabashed, sans-shame, forward-facing, to-the-mountain-tops self promotion that artists suck at?

Mal_um_well_I_um

 (what. is that question going to elicit a long list or something?)

 

Is it…the lack of organization?  I’m sure there are organized artists out there – I read about them all the time. Because they are organized enough to post regularly.  I mean, self promotion is a ridiculously multi-step process that you must engage in on a schedule or you lose your audience.  I get that.  I do.  …I just can’t do that.

yzma flea box

(steps. no.)

 

Is it…being shy about proclaiming that your art is awesome?  If you cannot evaluate whether or not your art is good, you cannot art.  this is a fact.  so this cannot be the reason.  Right?  So it’s the…proclaiming part…?  I dunno man, I have yet to run into an artist who has a hard time talking about how to do what it is that they do to create all that they create.  Artists – we proclaim pretty damn good, tyvm.

 

sherlock wrong gif

(or is it simply that we assume our art is always wrong – never good enough, never done, unworthy!)

 

Is it…being miserable about attaching a dollar value to your work?  I’ll tell you what, artists like eating! we like house payments! we like the non-burger-flipping leisure to keep art’ing! money is good!  So..on some level do we feel we are taking food out of the mouths of our audience/buyers by asking for real compensation?  I mean, artists – we’re all softies, and we’re all beyond experts at guilt!  Guilt, that we’re good at!

el dorado STARS CAN'T DO IT NOT TODAY

(god help you trying to get an artist to cough up ‘price for this piece’. they’ll find any excuse.)

 

Is it…time?  is it that we spend all our time making art; grinding our teeth about not making our art; gaming when we need down-time so the art can percolate; teaching ourselves an entirely new medium when stuck on a current project or (god help us) confronted with a deadline…?  Is that it?  Do we simply not have enough time?  ….er, can I present fig.1 – ‘Ivy’s kitchen’ as evidence to the truth of this contention?  …no?  How about fig.2 – ‘Ivy’s laundry’ is that admissible in court?

new groove eyebrow lift

(seriously your honor! art takes up 100% of hours in the day,
even when there’s no art at the end of the day to justify it!)

(if anyone can explain this to me, I’d be much obliged.)
(so would my laundry.) 

 

Is it…atypical brains?  I’m going to be serious here for a moment.  I get that one – deeply and in my soul.  Here’s where Ivy’s buck stops.  The reason I’m home, sitting in a 3×3′ dark box festooned with Christmas lights in front of a pair of large diaphragm mics with blinking red and green LEDs reflecting off my corneas as I read 28pt font off my iPad in exhaustive character voicing and narrative pacing…is, in part, that I’m unsuited to do anything else (marketing, promoting, book tours…).  Health issues are boring and I don’t natter on about them, whether online or in person; but, they govern every spoon used per day, they govern a cabinet full of pills of every shape and color, they govern mobility, they govern acuity, they govern perfectionism….and truth be told, they govern the fucking excellent art that I’m capable of.  Shall I be grateful?  Shall I complain – rail against genetics and toxins and stressors and all the tangential dead-ends that brought me to this place?

both both is good

Nah, guys – to do that seems, to me, to be without grace.

I am here.  I make beautiful things.  That’s enough.

…damn it’d be nice if those things could sell though :)

 

Happy Thanksgiving – to fans and, apparently, to Tiny Guppy Mystery as well :)

Happy thanksgiving, all!  I hope this day finds you well and in the company of supportive and loving humans & creatures in your life.  You deserve that.  We all deserve that :)

Today I’ve spent more time creating than I have socializing :D  Trust Ivy to take a holiday and turn it to good use creating audio!  Why?  Because audio is an excellent antidote to dealing with lots of other humans, that’s why!

So far today I’ve spent 45 minutes recording, as long editing, an hour promoting The Sowing (looking to be released on Audible & Amazon in December, the sooner the better I say!) and completing the submission process on James Joyce’s The Dead, Tiny Guppy Mystery‘s first audiobook.  The Dead is on its way – perfect Thanksgiving ‘yay!’ for me :D  If all goes well, it will be released in a week or so on iTunes, AmazonMusic, GooglePlay etc. – I’ll post links when we get there, but it’s just SO EXCITING to have the first TGM book in the production queue, I cannot even tell you :D

I wish you all a delicious and simply happy day – be well, friends.