Spooktacular Blog Hop Giveaway

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Welcome to the annual Spooktacular and totally spectacular blog hop brought to you by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. With over 200 chances to win free bookish-type stuff, this is one hop that is not to be missed!

The magic and wonder of Harry Potter with the melt-your-heart romance of The Vampire Diaries

(Check out my new book trailer.)

Praise for The Fateful Vampire Series

"Better than Twilight."
"Tristan's voice draws you into the story and holds you there."
"More romantic than A Shade of Vampire."
"Your ears will drink in Tristan Hunt's smooth voice like candy for the senses."
"Tristan Hunt is the Jim Dale of romance."
"If you liked Harry Potter, you'll love this."

The prize choices:

A free copy of Fateful (book 1) on audio from Audible. (Valued at 24.95)


A free copy of Fractured (book 2) on audio from Audible. (Valued at 19.95)

To enter:

Tell me why you'd like to try an audiobook for the first time, or why you love audiobooks, or what your favorite audiobook listen is. (And I'll go first. At the bottom of this post, you'll find a list of some of my most recent listens and what I thought of them.)


Join my email newsletter.

(Just scroll on down to the Rafflecoper form to fill in and confirm your entry.)

Why wait? Give it a listen right now!

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A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest: I knew this series was selling really well, so I had to see what the excitement was all about. I really like this a lot! Enough so that I quickly bought book two. But then, as I just said, I was disappointed. The covers are totally cool too!

A Shade of Blood by Bella Forrest: This is book two in the Shade of Vampire series. The narrator from 4 different actors was really great, especially Zackary Webber. He is amazing. I didn't like book two as much book one, so I haven't moved on to book three yet. And the love seen is this one really put me off. There was no emotion to it. To me, just not romantic at all, and I thought the plot dragged. I actually started skipping ahead.

Dragon Dreams by Dusty Holloway: Would you like something that takes you into a world reminiscent of Lord of the Rings? Then this is it. Loved the way the narrator, Rob Goll, performed the dwarf and the dragon. He really brought me into the story.

The Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale: This is the first book I've ever listened to that was narrated by Nicolas Boulton, and now I'm hooked. I loved listening to him. The story was a bit long for me though...over 15 hours? But very well written.

Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover: The plot in this story is absolutely brilliant. The characters are very well drawn. The narrator, Jason Carpenter, was absolutely fabulous. Once I started listening I couldn't stop until I'd finished. My only complaint was the use of the F word. Is it really necessary?

Cheri's 6 Reasons to Try Audiobooks for the First Time

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

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Recently, I asked readers to tell me what they thought of the samples for the audiobooks I have published. I've been surprised by many of the rather unenthusiastic comments. Some have even said they don't listen to audiobooks, so they can’t comment on the samples. Really? They won’t even take two minutes to even listen to the sample? I’m having a hard time understanding this. Honestly, to me this is similar to people who won't read, just in reverse. And it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain.

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” ~Mark Twain
It's true that it's hard to find time to read, especially when you have children to care for, a fulltime job to do, and laundry to sort. This leads me to my first reason to try audiobooks.

1 Listening to an audiobook is far more convenient than sitting down to read. You can multitask with an audiobook in ways you can't with a printed book or an ebook. You can enjoy a story or learn to speak French while doing laundry, preparing dinner, or driving to work. Basically, you can listen to a story being read to you at times when you cannot read at all. So let me put it this way, “The man who does not listen to audiobooks has no advantage over the man who cannot hear.” And with Whispersync via Amazon, you can keep the story going from your Kindle to your car without interruptions, making audiobooks even more convenient. Keep listening while you drive the children to soccer... Life doesn't have to interrupt your enjoyment of a good book.

2 Listening to a book rather than reading it IS NOT cheating like watching a movie is. Movies have been changed from the original book because much of what is in a book can’t be translated into film. The internal monologue, the descriptions of feelings, taste, and smell are not things that can be shown on the big screen. Sure an actor can show emotion on their face, but it's still just not the same. Books that are made into movies need to be stripped down to dialogue, scenery, sounds, and action. Movies just can’t be as rich and allow you to use your imagination like a book does. But most audiobooks are unabridged, which means it's exactly the same as the physical book, just more entertaining and more convenient. And listening still allows you to imagine every nuance written upon the page. The story is not imagined for you, it's simply lifted from the page.

3 Listening to an audiobook can help you momentarily escape reality when life sucks. When a book is acted out by a professional reader, the little inflexions in the voice, the laughter, and the tension all make the story fill your senses and bring it to life in a way that the story surrounds you. Maybe you need to run as you try to escape the demons in your life. Maybe you’ve been crying and you wouldn’t be able to focus on the words to read them. Maybe your vision is failing you because of an illness. Maybe you’re in so much physical pain you can’t even lift a book to read it. Maybe you’re blind but you love to enjoy a good story. Listening to someone read to you is actually easier than reading Braille. When you can EASILY sink into another world, time, or place, you can take a momentary break from reality so that when you do return to facing your demons, you’re refreshed and ready to battle again.

4 Audiobooks can make you smile when you realize you’re caught in a traffic jam. Nowadays, most audiobooks are digital, meaning you can have several with you at all times on your smartphone. Stuck in traffic or driving a long distance? Escape the monotony with a great story.

5 There’s nothing quite so delicious as having a romance whispered into your ear. Need I say more?

6 Have you listened to Harry Potter as read by Jim Dale? Um, you’re totally missing out if you haven’t. Your children are missing out too. And if none of the above reasons are enough to get you to try an audiobook, then start with Harry Potter and you’ll be hooked.

Of course, you’re welcome to try one of my audiobooks as well...

Not sold yet? Listen to chapter one of Fateful right now.

Tristan Hunt is like listening to Jim Dale, just sexier... ;)

And if you're smart, which I'm sure you are, go download the Kindle copy of Fateful for FREE,
and then snatch up the 10 hour long audiobook for $1.99!
(Just click on the image below.)

Thanks for visiting my website!
Why do you love listening to audiobooks? Let me know in the comments.
Audio of Cheri's books are available in the USA from Amazon, Audible, or iTunes.
Also from AU Audible.
And from UK Audible.

Audiobook Production Via ACX Q&A ~Part 2

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A series on audiobook production via ACX by Cheri Schmidt.

Here is Jason Downs (aka Tristan Hunt) and Cheri Schmidt (aka that pale vampire) doing a Q & A for a writer’s conference. Second question: Can the author approve the voice of each character?

Jason brings up a good point. You've already been through the audition process, so there shouldn't be too many surprises. And you really should trust this person that you've hired to know what they're doing and allow them to do their job without you nitpicking over details that just don't matter. Let them have creative license with the story. This is a collaboration...

However, I feel it's important to note that you should take care in the audition sample you choose to post for the book. Make sure you have voices of the two main characters in there, along with some accents that might be necessary. I would also suggest choosing a scene with some tension and dialogue for both a male and female character.

Oh, and there's one more thing I forgot to mention. If you've described your characters well enough, the right voice for each one will be, or should be, pretty obvious to the professional you've hired. That's one thing that changed for me after I first heard my stories "performed." As I wrote, I could hear how it would sound as an audiobook. I couldn't do that before. I think it also improves your writing, because you know what will and won't work better than you did before

Thanks again for visiting my blog. Check back later for more... And please comment and share. ;)

Young Adult Giveaway Hop ~Win a Signed Book or an Audiobook!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

This hop is hosted by Book Hounds and runs from August 14th to the 21st.

To enter simply do ONE of the items on the form below.
Thanks for visiting my blog and good luck!

The winner will get their choice of:

A signed paperback copy of either Fractured or Forever with the vintage covers. (USA only)
Valued at about 9.99 each.
Or a free copy of Fateful or Fractured on audio (USA & UK)
Valued at about $20.00 each.
Give it a listen:

Give it a listen:

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Audiobook Production & Marketing Via ACX

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Converting readers to audiobook listeners one bookworm at a time...

"Yes, it's still reading, just more convenient." -Cheri Schmidt
Many readers think listening to an audiobook is cheating, that it's like watching the movie. But if the audiobook is unabridged, then it's exactly like the original book. The only difference is that the story has been lifted from the page and brought to life for you.

In this new market of audiobooks, we as authors need to connect with our readers and use those free codes that we get from ACX to introduce them to this new format.

Erin from WrathsQueensBooks is one of those readers for me. In this video, she is holding the original copy of Fateful that I sent to her a very long time ago, and she has now just enjoyed it on audio. Her very first audiobook. (I'm grateful to her for taking the time to listen to my story once again after having already read it.)

Audiobook Production Via ACX Q&A ~Part 1

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A series on audiobook production via ACX by Cheri Schmidt.

Here is Jason Downs and an extremely pale vampire—I mean me doing a Q & A for a writer’s conference. First question: How closely do you work together?

(Note: I’ve never recorded Skype before and really had no idea what I was doing. And I never really meant to post it to YouTube, but it turned out to be too long for the conference. I was aware of the box in the top corner, but was afraid of messing up the recording if I tried to get rid of it. It finally went away on its own and I don’t know why. I also knew the mouse arrow was on my shoulder, but was afraid I might accidentally minimize the program if I tried to move that too.)

 (Good grief! It was really hard for me to post that to YouTube...)
Cheri’s additional thoughts on this question...

I think how closely you work together largely depends on the author and how involved you want to be. But it is a creative collaboration, so perhaps more authors should be more involved. That doesn’t mean that you need to be nitpicky or annoying, though. That just means get to know each other a little so you can make the best decisions for the story, and better market the book after production is finished.

My guess is that producers and authors that have done a royalty share deal are more likely to work together closely during and after production, because they both benefit financially if sales are good.

Jason mentioned that he's had some authors who just approve the audio without making any changes, and I wanted to comment on that. I don’t know if all producers do it this way or not, but Jason would post chapters as he finished them. Either one at a time, or a few at a time. I couldn’t resist reviewing them right away, but I have heard of authors who don’t bother listening to the chapters at all. And then when it’s finished they wonder if they should listen to it or just approve it. I don’t think that is wise at all, and I was surprised to hear from Jason that some authors actually do that. Yes, producers edit their work, but things can still be missed by mistake. Just like authors need more than one editor, so does a narrator. With ACX, I feel like the rights holder is final QA, and if you don’t listen just to make sure there aren’t any random repeats still in there, you’ll make your producer look bad and that will affect his rating in the reviews. I have listened to audiobooks with repeats in the finished product and it always surprises me, because it wouldn’t have been all that hard to fix.

However, while reviewing the audio, remember that every change you ask for could cause a change in sound. So be very selective. I’ve heard of some authors who feel like that’s how they wrote it so the producer had better not change a single word! Oh please, sometimes that just happens when reading. But if it sounds natural and still makes sense, then leave it like it is. That will be better for sound quality. And you'll likely have a better working relationship with your producer if you're not a pain to work with.

Thanks for dropping by, and check back for more videos of this Q & A...

Audiobook Production & Marketing Via ACX

Monday, August 3, 2015

A series on audiobook production via ACX and marketing when the book is finished.
I recently presented at a writer’s conference about this, and I was the only author there presenting on ACX. I was limited on time for my class, and there just wasn’t enough time for me to cover everything. So I’m bringing that info to you via my blog and YouTube. I’ll cover everything thing I didn’t have time for and share the Skype interview with producer/narrator Jason Downs where he answers author’s questions.

Choosing a producer/narrator:
In this emerging market of audiobooks, marketing is key, and I would say there is a learning curve, because it’s different from marketing books in general. I suspect that’s because this is a slightly different audience. Your first and perhaps your biggest, marketing choice for the audiobook is choosing the right voice. This is also a creative choice. The style of the narrator needs to fit the style of the story. Your choice will make a big difference in the finished product, good or bad.

“The right narrator can bring a story to life in a way that nothing else can, can fully immerse the audience into the story, can make them feel the emotion in the words, and can make the author shine." Cheri Schmidt

Things to consider:

What point of view did you write the book in? If it’s female first person, then it would be best if you chose a female narrator. Recently, my husband has listened to a few books, and not indie books, where the story is told from a first person male perspective but the narrator is female. It really drives him crazy. This seems like it should be an obvious thing, but apparently it isn’t.

If it’s written in third person, how many male and female characters are there in the story? Looking at these numbers will help you decided if it’s best to go with a male or female narrator. For example, my Fateful Series, which is Paranormal Romance, has a majority of male characters. It is very difficult for a female to perform male voices. Many times they sound like silly caricatures. Plus it’s easier for a male or female reader to add greater variety in voices for characters of the same gender. While the majority of my characters are male, there is one scene where there are 6 females all together. I could tell it was almost a stretch for him to do all of those female voices at once and make sure they don’t all sound alike. He managed it extremely well, but to do that with an entire novel would be a problem.

If you’ve written the book in third person and you have an even number of male or female characters, should you choose a male or female narrator? When in doubt, go with a male narrator, even for romance... Or especially for romance. For Fantasy, Horror, Middle Grade, or Mystery male is usually a better choice every time... This is not the trend. I’ve noticed that many more books are narrated by female readers, and many of them are absolutely amazing! But most male readers have a greater range in their voices and can perform better female characters than females can perform males. I realized this is personal preference, but it’s a major turnoff for me to listen to a woman perform a male character that is supposedly hot. It just does not work. Most women that I know would rather have a male whisper a romance into their ear over a female. And most men that I know wouldn’t want to listen to a woman read an action spy novel to them, or maybe they would... I’m sure there are exceptions, but I personally wouldn’t market a book to the exception.

A few more tips to choosing the right producer:

Should you narrate your own book? If your book is on writing, or a story about your own life, and you know how to produce a quality recording, then yes. Otherwise, I think it’s best to leave the acting and production to the pros.

Choose a soothing voice. This is another reason you should go with a male reader if you can. Female voices tend to grate on the ear. Even so, the male or female voice must be one that readers can listen to for long periods of time. Nothing too harsh, tinny, or high-pitched.

Get outside opinions from friends, family, and fans. In my experience, authors get desperate thinking they won’t find what they want, so they go with whoever auditions. And authors tend to have bad taste when choosing their own narrator. It’s just a fact you’re going to have to swallow.

Listen to other work done by the narrator you’re considering. And I don’t just mean the samples they have in their profile. Buy one of the audiobooks they’ve done and listen to it. This is the best way to hear what the quality of their work is like.

Google their name. They’ll Google you before auditioning as they consider whether to work with you or not. This a great of way of discovering a little bit about the person you’re thinking about trusting your book with.

Don’t forget how much time and effort the producer puts into your book. It takes 5-6 hours worth of hard work to produce 1 recorded hour of finished audio. It also takes a great deal of creative talent. This is not like hiring an editor. Anyone with the skill can edit a book, but not every narrator can bring life to your story in the same way. On ACX you can choose to list your book as either Royalty Share or Paid per Finished Hour. Most authors want to do the Royalty Share so they don’t have to pay the narrator for their work, thinking royalties will cover it later. Sadly, many narrators are getting burned on Royalty Shares. If you want a quality narrator, it would be wise to list the book as Royalty Share OR a Negotiated Hourly Rate. We know the benefits of paying a professional editor to polish off our writing, so why would we then complain about paying a professional artist to produce our audiobook? And even if you manage to get an Audible Stipend like I did for Fateful, pay the producer even more than the $100 dollars per finished hour Audible pays. Happy narrators make for well-produced audiobooks...

Take care in your choice. You'll be working with this stranger to create a new product...a collaboration of talents.

Up next...my producer and I will answer a question turned in from other authors about how closely we work together during production and marketing via a Skype interview.

(I'll try to post a new article each week, or perhaps a bit more often so stay tuned!)

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