October Spookiness Comes to the Island

October is time to rake and can and plan for winter in Martha’s Vineyard. The daylight hours are shortening, flocks of tourists are nearly gone. Year round residents take a little time to have Halloween fun with jack-o-lanterns and autumn’s beautiful leaves.

October’s book choice was an easy one: Mudge loves coming up with the Halloween book. This year he’s going with the master of darkness himself, Stephen King. The twist is King’s co-writer is his son, Owen. Can Mudge spook the group more than last year with:

Pick it up at Amazon, B&N, Apple Books, or Kobo.

 

Have you read Sleeping Beauties yet? Yes? –proceed scrolling for some very real comments by the members of the BBG.

If not, download it before you proceed.

There may be spoilers, otherwise!

 

Blythe (proprietress of Blythe Cove Manor): Well, I’m not a King fan, as you all know. I like lighter books, with very happy endings. But I must say it was interesting to see how the world coped with losing women. And there’s something satisfying when a sleeping woman leaves no doubt that her sleep should not be disturbed. I will be sleeping with a light on for the rest of the month, as usual Mudge.

Helen (director of the local library): I love a good mystery, even if it comes with supernatural suspense. Knowing what had caused the Aurora virus and whether the women would come back. Not to mention how much the world would have changed when they did come back. I’m not sure how I’d have felt. Also, has anyone else noticed how the heater, when it turns on at night, sounds a lot like a ghost pounding up the stairs?

Mudge (excursion boat owner/operator): Knew it. Knew this book would get you Blythe. I picked it because King is the King, as you know I believe. Now that’s he’s passing on the torch to his son Owen, I want to get everyone ready for next year. By the way, I found this excellent jack-o-lantern nightlight for you all. Maybe you’ll have sweet dreams before November, Blythe.

Aggie (owner, Sandpiper Restaurant): Mudge, leave it to you. If you’re King’s #1 fan, then I’m his #2. This book made me think, jump, and look behind me every time I heard a creaky floorboard, or a rustling rush of wind. I want to be Eve Black, just so you all know.

Fred (island taxi driver): Mudge, I look forward to the October pick all year long. This one took me to surprising places. Fortunately, I don’t believe in ghosts or zombie sleeping beauties, so I’m still getting my eight hours without trouble.

Did you miss the other book group picks? Check them all out here.

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Real or Fiction

Real or Fiction: Where does one begin?

by Shirley Hailstock

 

I recently read an author’s blog about writing from or about real life. Many authors do this, myself included. However, until I read her blog, I thought most of what I wrote was fiction, made up, not associated with the real world, but of a world I created. I never use people I know in my stories. I tried using the name of a relative once and found I was making the character that person.

 

This is not to say that the attributes of characters I write about are not from real people. All of them are. But shortly after introducing a character, they take on a life of their own and the author can only record what they say and do.

The stories I write come from the heart, from past experiences or from emotions that I’ve experienced or can tap into, empathize with. They reveal a lot about the writer. This is why the stories we find most endearing are the ones that have an underlying truth to them. It’s not “in your face” truth, but subtle, the kind that touches the emotional nerves and basically rings our bells. As readers, they draw us in, identify the same emotions the reader has, giving the reader an experience that is safe while it can make the heart beat faster, return them to the memory of a first love, or have them living vicariously through the pages.

We all have favorite authors. For several of mine, I’ve done binge reading of their books, usually fifteen titles in a row. I do this to learn about writing, but the by-product of this method is I learn a lot about that author, their views on the world, what they read, what political stand they have and what kind of person they are.

This may seem like an audacious comment since most authors are introverts and do not want to put their lives out in the world.  However, as an author, our stories reveal that we’ve opened a vein and poured our blood into the stories. This is honesty. It’s real. It’s the truth. And it makes for vivid stories that glue the reader to her/his chair as the author takes them on an adventure. And within that adventure, in between the lines and pages and chapters, inside the world created by the author, is the truth of the author’s conscious, her/his values, her/his life.

So the next time you pick up a book to read, handle it carefully and remember you’re holding the author’s heart in your hands.

 

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The MUST-HAVE Christmas Present

 

Happy Holidays!  

 

We’ve come to my favorite holiday, Christmas. I love everything about it, even the jostling in stores for the perfect gift. I like the snow (not the shelving).  I like all the lights and the music.  I like the happy smiles on people’s faces as they make eye contact instead of just passing by.  I like all the Christmas cards spilling out of my mailbox as I open it each day.
As Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Years celebrations begin, remember when you were a kid and wanted the must-have toy of the season? [Note:  I realize Hanukkah is over, but for the past several years it’s occurred in December close to Christmas, so I wanted to include it here.)
 
For me the toy I had to have was called Mini-Brix.  They were the precursor to Legos.  I was about seven and I longed for them.  You could build things with them just like you can with today’s Legos.  However, my father said it was a boy’s toy and I was a girl.  This was prior to the sexual revolution.  On Christmas morning the mini-brik were not there.  I got a doll and a tea set as all good little girls should want.  I didn’t grow up to be a great homemaker.  I drink coffee more than tea.  I also didn’t become an architect or work at building anything.  I’ve worked in many types of jobs, that we won’t go into as this blog is about the must-have gift.
 
A few years ago the e-reader, specifically the Kindle was the gift of the season.  Then the i’s took over: iPod, iPhone, iPad, and now the Apple Watch of the Samsung phone.
What is the toy you want today? If you could get your must-have gift,
what would it be?  You’re never too old for the perfect holiday present.  If I got to sit on Santa’s lap and whisper in his ear what I want for Christmas, it wouldn’t be anything tangible, no coat or that one (or more) of my books make the New York Times bestseller list (although I wouldn’t refuse that).  I want peace.PEACE SIGN
I used to think it was silly during the Miss American Pageant when the contestants said they wanted peace.  But I understand now.  And I agree with them.
This is probably why I choose to write romance.  There is always a happily-ever-after, and the characters remind me of Superman.  They stand for truth and justice.  So as the year comes to a close, let us all
pray for our soldiers to come home safely, that the sons and daughters of our enemies lay down their weapons and return to their families, and for the world to work for peace.
 SUMMER MAGIC_HARD COVER STANDING
When you begin to wine down from the aftermath of the holidays, when the family has begun to return to their homes, take a moment to relax with Summer Magic, a three-story anthology from authors, Lorraine Bartlett, Shirley Hailstock and Kelly McClymer.  You’ll learn the stories of three special guests who arrive at this beautiful inn overlooking the sea on Martha’s Vineyard. AMAZON.COM  NOOK  APPLE   KOBO 
Sweet Dreams by Lorraine Bartlett: Serious life changes have pushed Paige and Alex Campbell to the brink of divorce.  Still, they win a weekend at lovely Blythe Cove Manor and experience vivid dreams. Is there a chance this magical place inspires the nighttime fantasies that could help them fall in love again?
Forever Bound by Shirley Hailstock: What Ellie Sloan finds in the wall of her home sends her to Martha’s Vineyard and irrevocably changes her life.

Honeymoon with a Ghost by Kelly McClymer: Wedding planners know that no wedding goes off without a hitch, but most don’t expect the groom to vanish hours after the wedding. Emily Stevens heads for her honeymoon suite in Blythe Cover Manor alone, determined to find out who her husband really was.

Until next time, keep reading.
Shirley.Hailstock@comcast.net
http://www.shirleyhailstock.net
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A talk with my audio narrator …

By Lorraine Bartlett

I’m very happy to announce that my second Tales of Telenia book, JOURNEY, is now available as an audiobook. (You can listen to a sample of it here–just click the link.)

I thought it might be interesting for readers (hey, and me, too!) to find out a little bit about what it is to be a spoken-voice performer.  Let me introduce you to Steven Barnett. He has read not only the Telenia books, but also is the voice of my character Jeff Resnick.  (At least for the last 6 titles.  We’ll be re-recording the first three in the not-too-distant future.)

Steven and I recently talked and here’s a portion of our conversation.

How does one becomes a voice artist?
I’m not sure there is one generic way to become a voice artist. I started as a vocalist in college, learning to sing opera, but I’ve always been a talented mimic. I loved to imitate cartoons, famous people, anything I could for a laugh. I did voice-over work when I was in film and tv work and kind of just branched off from there.

Do you read the whole book first?
It depends on the length and type of the book. If the book is fairly short, say on the order of 80-90000 words, I will generally not read beforehand and just work things out in recording. If the book is longer, or has a large number of speaking characters and voices and things, then I’ll read the book first and try to get a sense of the characterization beforehand, especially if the book has alien or foreign characters and languages.

Is the dialog the hardest because you have to switch voices?  How do you know which voice to use?  Do you color code them on your script?
For me, dialog between males isn’t so difficult, mostly because I’m used to imitating character dialogue. What’s hardest for me is dialog between a male and a female. Doing a feminized voice requires a lot of tuning in the musculature of the mouth and vocal folds and it’s difficult sometimes to switch between them rapidly. One of my earlier projects involved two main characters, one of whom was a teenaged boy from modern-day Philadelphia and the other was a teenaged girl from 18th century Scotland. That was terribly difficult at first.

What’s the hardest part about narrating a book?
The hardest part is consistency. Making sure that when you flub a line, you go back and re-read that line precisely as you read it before. Making sure that if you’re recording a book and it’s going to take more than a day, that your mic placement and your settings are all the same as they were when you started. Making sure your editing process is smooth and that each chapter matches the others in timbre, volume, and emotion is also a big part of that.

How did you get into this kind of work?  
By accident, like many others have, I’m sure. One of my good friends is an author and he stumbled across the Audiobook Creation Exchange website, or ACX, where authors and narrators of audiobooks can come together. He sent me the link and off I went.

What kinds of stories have you narrated?
I’ve narrated quite a few kinds: cozies, sci-fi fantasy, superhero stories, erotic fiction (boy, are THOSE difficult to read…), romance… I have a preferred genre I like to read personally, but I’m pretty much a mercenary when it comes to recording. I don’t like to limit myself to one genre or another just because it’s not what I’d read at home on my own time. In fact, one of my favorite books I’ve done is a book I’d never have read on my own in a million years– a Southern romance story with some erotic scenes. It’s a sweet love story and I highly enjoyed doing all the characters.

Do you have a favorite genre to read? 
I prefer to read genres where there are lots of distinct characters, so typically fantasy and sci-fi novels. I’m a huge fan of urban fantasy, so I tend to want to get those novels more, but the more and more I work, the more into mysteries I am becoming.

Lorraine Hart AudiobooksWhat are your future plans? 
Right now, my plan is to keep doing what I’m doing, but more of it, you know? More titles under my belt, more recognition. I’m working toward being named an Audible-certified Producer, which is a certification that tells authors and producers that I am a narrator of high-quality and able to deal with more expensive, high-level projects. It opens more professional level doors, let’s say. But I’ll work with anyone, regardless of budget, if the book is quality. In the future, my goal is to broaden my voice skills and perhaps do cartoons. I love character voices and comedy, so cartoons are right in my wheelhouse. I’m a huge voice-acting nerd, so it would be a thrill to work with guys like Rob Paulsen, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, Laura Bailey, Grey DeLisle, Jennifer Hale… the list goes on. That’s my future.

Where can we find you online? 
Well, I don’t have a professional website yet. Too busy to make one, I suppose, though I’m working on it. Right now you can find me on Twitter @PlasmatixUltra. I also have a Facebook page for me as a professional, and you can find that at http://www.facebook.com/letmetellyouastory .  I can also be reached via email at stevenrichardbarnett@gmail.com and a list of the books I’ve narrated is available on Audible.com .  Just click this link. And, of course, you can always find me at your favorite audiobook retailers: Audible, Amazon, and iTunes!

 

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Fantasies are Us – on April Fool’s Day

by Shirley Hailstock

Pranksters Must Apply

The first day of April, April Fool’s Day, is for pranksters, jesters, sophomoric hijinks and practical jokers. April Fool’s reminds me of fantasies, not like the things that go bump in the night. There’s another holiday for that. This month is for things that are unreal and often funny, but not hurtful. Like Mardi Gras, it’s a time when you can step out of your comfort zone, do something out of the ordinary, and you’ll have something to blame when people ask, “What were you thinking?”

 What One Thing Would You Do?

Don’t you have something you’ve always wanted to do, something from your goal list, or your bucket list. It doesn’t need to be something huge like skydiving unless that’s one of your goals. It could be something that’s a baby step. Whatever it is, give it a chance. You might find that you are comfortable there.

Continue reading

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