Tuesday, August 23, 2016

An Orchestral Season in Sixty Seconds

I've been promising my friends at Brockton Symphony and WCVB radio that I'd prepare a new commercial previewing the Brockton Symphony Orchestra's upcoming season. I've been so immersed in narrating and producing audiobooks this summer that I haven't even been blogging regularly. Here it is.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Some audiobook narrators only have to read and leave the production to others

It is interesting to "see how the other half lives," in the world of audiobook production. This accomplished actress expected to spend 60 hours in the studio, but doubled that by the time she was done. I assume that all of that time was spent reading, with occasional do-overs. For those of us who serve as narrator/producers, the reading is the smallest part of the job. A common rule of thumb is 6 hours editing for each hour of finished audio. For a perfectionist like me, it sometimes takes 20 or more hours to get the quality I insist on. Best part of this is to see an article about audiobooks in the headlines.

Worcester, Massachusetts
Maggie Gyllenhaal put in long hours on 'Karenina' audiobook
By Mark Kennedy
The Associated Press
Posted Jul. 12, 2016 at 12:47 PM

[photo caption] Maggie Gyllenhaal will read the classic Leo Tolstoy novel, "Anna Karenina," for an audiobook. The Associated Press

NEW YORK — One of Maggie Gyllenhaal's favorite books is "Anna Karenina." So when she was asked to read the classic novel out loud for an audiobook, she didn't hesitate.
"I thought, 'This will be amazing. I'll just sit in a room and re-read 'Anna Karenina' out loud,'" Gyllenhaal recalled. "I just loved the book so much I thought, 'Yes, let's try and do it.'"
Cold, hard reality set in after her first recording session. Leo Tolstoy's masterpiece is over 1,000 pages and extremely complicated.
"A sentence will begin in one place and end really somewhere else. I couldn't cold read it. It just wasn't possible," said the star of "Crazy Heart" and "The Dark Knight."
So Gyllenhaal realized she'd have to do homework and put in long hours at the studio. The result is a moving and dramatic version, available Tuesday by audio seller and producer Audible Inc.
"It was amazing. I learned things about myself from reading the book in the way that I think a lot of people learn things about themselves from reading the book, whether its aloud or to yourself. And I learned different things about myself at 37 doing it than I learned when I was 25, which is also the mark of an amazing book."
Gyllenhaal recorded the book in lower Manhattan over the winter while her husband, Peter Sarsgaard, was filming a movie in Paris. The plan originally was for 10 six-hour sessions, but it turned into more like 30 four-hour sessions.
She prepared for each one by reading a different translation of "Anna Karenina" the night before, trying to stay 50-100 pages ahead so she could anticipate what came next in the recording studio.
"There were days when I got behind, but very few, because I found it was not really possible. There was one part when I got ahead of myself and I was cold reading in the room. I remember gasping at something I hadn't remembered."
One thing Gyllenhaal refused to do was adopt Russian accents to enliven the masterpiece about love, betrayal and death among the elite in imperial Russia.
"My skill really is not doing voices. I don't know how to do that. That seems silly to me. At the same time, of course, you want to create a world for people. But my skill is basically finding a deep kind of empathy for whomever I'm playing everything from their point of view. And `Anna Karenina' is the perfect book for that."
There was an added benefit: While she was reading the book, Gyllenhaal said she felt more engaged in life, going to three plays and an art exhibit.
"I found when I was reading the book that my brain was being exercised in the same way that when you're running a lot you all of a sudden feel the strength in your body."

Second blog post of the day after 3 month hiatus

How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a TimeHow to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time by Nina Amir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just posted a Goodreads review onto my blog at www.harrythelibrarian.com - my first blog post in 3 months! I'm posting this now, while still working my way through this excellent guide, for the express purpose of "blaming" Nina Amir for this neglect. She says, more than once, to complete all the preparatory work before posting your first post on your blog. Of course she means the blog on which you intend to "blog your book one post at a time," and she differentiates this from a personal blog that roams among various interests of the blogger. Mine has been the latter, but I'm intrigued with the idea of blogging one or more of the books I've intended to write for so many decades. Harry Browne, in his excellent How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World wrote of the "Previous Investment Trap. After putting time and money into a project, you hesitate to stop - even if you should stop. I find it hard to even contemplate scrapping 9 years of work and starting over, and am also too lazy to want to start one or more additional blogs. Thanks to Ms. Amir, I will do one or more of these daunting tasks because I don't want to die with my "music" still in me...

View all my reviews

Mystery novel that caught me by surprise

The CellarThe Cellar by Minette Walters

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In spite of the hints (bordering on spoilers) on the book jacket, this caught me by surprise more than once. Walters' writing seems straightforward, yet she manages to inject mood and emotion into the situations and transactions among the limited cast of this novel. Nicely done.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Heartbreaker - Shelve and store your books carefully!

Here is my latest book I am selling on Amazon. Because they show only one "custom" photo of my copy, I am using this post (and referring potential buyers to it) to show front, back, and the signed title page and inscribed flyleaf. [NOTE: Not long after I first posted this here, I discovered that Amazon would indeed allow me to post all four photos, and I have done so.]

Here is how I describe it on Amazon: "Snow in the Kingdom VG $15.97 SIGNED (Twice) BY THE AUTHOR. Heartbreaker! This gorgeous and significant book would list as New or Like New except that due to improper storage the spine is off center.

"Title page is signed by the author and flyleaf has handwritten dedication, "July 30th, 2012 - To Cheryl + Lorraine - With Warm Wishes from the Author + Enjoy All your Summits together! Very Sincerely, Ed Webster - Mt. Everest 1985/1987/1988"

"Book is very heavy with glossy paper and tons of color and black and white photographs, maps, etc. "Curvature of the spine" can be manually corrected and then book will stand upright between others or bookends, or displayed on a coffee table, but I feel full disclosure requires mentioning it."

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My radio spot for an uplifting concert.

This is my latest radio spot promoting the Brockton Symphony Orchestra. Here's the text:

The Brockton Symphony Orchestra wraps up its 68th Season with Vocal Masterworks, Sunday, May 1st, at 3:00 p.m. in the Oliver Ames High School, collaborating with Brockton's Jubilate Chorale, Dr. Maxine M. Asselin director, and the Bridgewater State University Chorale, Dr. Steven Young director.
Bask in Verdi’s glowing Va, pensiero (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) from Nabucco. Take hope and comfort in Brahms’ glorious Requiem, with soprano Jane Shivick and baritone Athan Mantalos. Marvel at Beethoven’s elegant Hallelujah from Mount of Olives. Adult tickets are $20.00, seniors and students $15.00, children under 18, free. Order at Brockton Symphony dot org, or call the Symphony at 508-588-3841. That’s 3:00 PM, Sunday, May 1st, at the Oliver Ames High School in North Easton. The Brockton Symphony Orchestra – A Greater Brockton Treasure! Sponsored by Harbor One Bank.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

I have no interest in Twitter

Why I have no interest in Twitter: "It allows for of-the-moment brevity." It's not the limited length that disturbs me, it's the trend away from considered responses to our world, glorifying emotional reaction over reasoned pronouncement.

I admit that the sesquipedalian habit of polysyllabification uses up those 140 characters quickly, but I don't mind that my posts on Facebook often require clicking to "Read more." When it comes to sharing insights, I choose quality over (limited) quantity every time.

Full disclosure: As someone who mostly skims the newspaper I confess to a degree of hypocrisy here...

This diatribe was inspired by this article in The New York Times:


Twitter Rules Out Long Tweets, Sticking to 140-Character Limit

Two months ago, Twitter’s most dedicated fans threw a fit when news of a potentially major change in the service came to light: the 140-character limit, long one of Twitter’s defining characteristics, might be going away.

Keep calm and tweet on, Twitter loyalists. The limit is here to stay.

Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chief executive of Twitter, assuaged people’s concerns in an interview with the “Today” show on Friday, confirming that the company will keep tweets at 140 characters.

“It’s staying. It’s a good constraint for us,” Mr. Dorsey said in the interview, which took place on the 10th birthday of Twitter. “It allows for of-the-moment brevity.”

Mr. Dorsey’s response — at an economical length of 81 characters — is likely to calm the hard-core base of Twitter supporters who have been vocally resistant to any major changes to the network, home to more than 320 million regular users. For years, those in Twitter’s top ranks have been hesitant to make drastic changes to the service for fear of losing some of those most active users.

But as the company’s user growth has slowed over the last few years, Twitter has faced mounting pressure from Wall Street to attract more people to the network — a feat that has proved much more difficult than the company’s executives have hoped.

Since his return in October to Twitter as its permanent chief executive, Mr. Dorsey has made it clear that many of the things that employees held sacrosanct about Twitter — including tweet length — were no longer untouchable. Employees were given leeway to experiment on different versions of what the product would look like to make it more intuitive and to increase the likelihood of attracting repeat visitors.

According to Mr. Dorsey’s comments, it looks as if the character limit was one characteristic of Twitter he was not willing to drop. But that does not mean the service will not change in other ways.

“We’re changing a lot,’ Mr. Dorsey said. “We’re always going to make Twitter better.”