Sunday, December 12, 2010

Go to The Source Whenever Possible

I am about half way through "Love in Condition Yellow" and I finally sent the author an email to verify a few pronunciations. I'm so glad I did because it was a good reminder that pronunciation is very idiomatic and it can be important to telling a story in an authentic way. The way we handle language conveys to our listeners whether or not we are qualified to tell the story; are we trustworthy?

I ended up having a short phone conversation with her because she said the pronunciation of her name was a little tricky. Interesting. I thought for sure I had it correct, and was just checking in order to be thorough. Turns out it was a little bit different than any of the possible pronunciations I had considered, AND it was important to the author that I get it right. Her name is Rayday, and I thought it would be RAY-day, with slightly more emphasis on the 1st syllable. Either that, or ruh-DAY with a shwa in 1st syllable and the emphasis on the 2nd. In fact it is something between rah-DAY and ruh-DAY, a distinction not easily conveyed in writing. Okay. Guess I'll have to go fix that!

She was quite appreciative of the opportunity to help me get it right. After all the story is her baby; it's  her blood, sweat, tears, and vulnerability all over the page. And then I come in, having the power to make a permanent recording of it with her name pronounced WRONG? That would be an injury that would be difficult to undo once it hit the market.

She told me that one of her essays had been read for a podcast and the reader clearly didn't know anything about guns or ammo and read the words "hollow point" (describing a type of bullet) with an odd emphasis which made it clear she was not familiar with the terminology. There's that trust thing. Credibility blown. I know I can't get everything perfect, but I would really like to avoid a mistake, an injustice really, like that.

How do you pronounce Iraq?? Now, I have heard eye-RACK and ih-RACK and ih-ROCK. Which is it? Well, that depends on who you're talking to. And I don't know about you, but to me it seems like there are some demographic lines drawn around these pronunciations. George Bush was fond of eye-RACK or even EYE-RACK if he was feeling particularly expressive. But then again, GB also said NOO-kyu-ler and I can't get anywhere close to that pronunciation out of the word nuclear. Supposedly it  made him seem more like a "common man." Really? I'm not sure I want a common man leading my country. Anyway, back to the Iraq question. Academic types tend toward ih-ROCK. But I hear lots of folks use ih-RACK. I chose the latter. It turns out the author says ih-ROCK, but she doesn't have any objection to my pronunciation. Good. This stuff is not as simple as it may at first seem. I have learned that I can NEVER take anything for granted. That doesn't mean I can check every word I say, but I do think it is good to keep humility in mind as we go forward in this life.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Proof is in....Somebody Else's Hands

One of the jobs I did when I first started in the audiobook industry was proofing: listening to the recording while reading along. It is an interesting job, which calls on a very specific and sometimes peculiar set of skills. It is very easy to become entranced by the story and lose focus on the task--to find errors. The eye and the brain don't always work together the way they should. This is true for both the narrator and the proofer, so you can see how this could get complicated.

The eye or the brain makes a decision about what it thinks a word is, without really seeing it. Sometimes crazy words that are not even in the script will pop up in the recording and you think (arrogantly and judgmentally), "What were they thinking?" Or you are listening and following along in the script and your eye and brain seem to agree with what the narrator is saying, but something seems wrong somewhere in your gut or the back of your neck, so you stop and rewind and go over it again and sure enough there was a mistake!

The thing I learned, which was eye opening and comforting at the same time, was that everybody makes mistakes--crazy mistakes. I was listening to people at the top of the industry--Simon Vance, Steven Rudniki, Barrett Whitener, Bernadette Dunne etc. And even they make some crazy mistakes. And now that I know more, I understand just how few mistakes they actually make, and how good they are!! When I started to record myself, I was horrified at the proofing notes that came back on my programs! I was so careful! How is it possible I made 5 errors on that one page?! I have learned to be humble, do the best I can, and just expect to make corrections; It is part of the process.

And I know not to try to work for too long a period without taking a break. I can assure you that the 5 mistakes on a single page happened after 3 hours of continuous reading. It is important to give the eye and brain a break even if the voice is holding strong.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Killer Hang Nail!!

I am taking a break from editing, and typing this hunt and peck style because I have an insanely painful hang nail on my little finger. It is ridiculous; you'd think it was a gunshot wound! How can one tiny place on the body generate such intense pain?

Finished up the final work on 3 programs for Chelsea House today: Pope John Paul II, Civil War Leaders, and The Stock Market Crash of 1929. There was not a lot to do. The narrators turned in really clean work. I really appreciate that, and try to do the same when I am reading.

I will spend some time recording "Love in Condition Yellow" before I have to break to get Ivy from school, take her to her voice lesson, and then get to the theater for our Pay-What-You-Can community service performance of "Sweetest Swing"---Ah yes, the show must go on!! Hang nail or no!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My daughter asks: "Do you ever not work?"

Yikes. She got me. It is difficult sometimes working freelance. I always imagined that I would never get anything done--just be a couch potato, but in truth it has turned out exactly opposite. I work all the time!! It is really important to me that I be available to pick Ivy up after school and be a mom who is available to her, and I think I manage that pretty well. But.... the problem is that every moment that she is in school is spent working. There is no ME time.

So today she asks, "Do you ever not work; you know,  just spend a day doing nothing?" Now I know this is a trick question. Or rather a lawyer's question; one only asked knowing full well in advance the answer. I tried to defend myself, but it was no use, because right before we'd had this discussion I had been downloading audio into ProTools for tomorrow's editing session. Why couldn't that wait until tomorrow? What is the compulsion to do it now? I don't know the answers. It's nice to have a kid who notices, though, and cares.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Post Production/Editing Work Continues

I put the finishing touches on 2 more audio programs for University Press Audiobooks today.

"Modern Bodies" and "Wiki Government" will be available soon on I wish I could listen to the entirety of all the books I do post production work on. I'd be the most interesting conversationalist in the world if I had the time!!  UPA puts out an amazing assortment of books. Check em out:

I really appreciate doing the editing work. I'm a bit surprised by that, actually. I've always seen myself as much more of a performer and not necessarily patient with detail oriented tasks. However, I find that doing editing can be a lot like working a jigsaw puzzle, which my daughter will tell you I love!!!

I like the challenge of making an edit as seamless as possible,  getting the sound to match perfectly. All the tech skills I had to develop in order to have a home studio have really come in handy. I love having a break in recording, it gives my voice a rest, and lets my brain shift to a totally different kind of work.

Getting Started In the Blog World

Ok. Ok! I give up. I will risk the possibility of humiliation to venture out into the blog world. Be gentle, readers.

I am very excited to unveil my new website, and this attached blog will be the way I keep you posted about what is new in my audio narration world:

Current projects:
I just finished doing my 3rd Stephen Havill book for Books In Motion. This one was called "Double Prey". It was fun to get a proofing copy of a book yet to be published! I felt very in the know. It was comforting too to find errors in Stephen's fine novel. Good to know we all make mistakes and that the trick is to keep moving forward. It was so much fun to go back to characters I had given voice to in the past. I was nervous I might make too many changes, but actually it seemed to come back to me pretty organically.

I am currently working on "Love in Condition Yellow: A Memoir of an Unlikely Marriage" by Sophia Raday for University Press Audiobooks. What a beautiful book. How do a self professed peace activist/hippy woman and a military/Oakland police force guy end up together? How do they make it work? What have they figured out about what is really important in life and connection with others? All of this is addressed as this beautiful story unfolds. I feel challenge by the responsibility of saying these words out loud. I'm learning a lot. Look for it at or in the upcoming months.

I am also performing in "The Sweetest Swing in Baseball" at the Mendocino Theater Company. I get to play baseball player Darryll Strawberry--kind of. It is a very challenging, funny play and I am having a great time with it. Come see it if you can. We are running through December 5th.

That's it for me.
Vocally yours,