Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chris Patton on FATAL SHADOWS

I can't pretend I'm not excited about today's blog. It's the first in a series of interviews with the narrators of my audio books. So many of you seem to be loving the audio that I thought you might enjoy a little insight into the process -- hopefully we aren't taking away the magic!

 Today we have Chris Patton discussing Fatal Shadows. The first book in the Adrien English series. Chris was the very first narrator/producer I hired. I had been scoping out various narrators and I had run across Chris, but he sounded so busy with so many projects that I actually did not approach him.

Meanwhile, I was getting some pretty so-so auditions for the book (at that time on ACX gay fiction was definitely an Also Ran). So I was kind of discouraged. Maybe this audio thing was not going to pan out after all. I even approached a couple of narrators and -- though I was offering to pay up front and the going rate -- I met a stony silence.

Then Chris suddenly popped up in my inbox and I was delighted. He was exactly the voice I had been thinking for Adrien English (and I hadn't even heard his Jake yet)!

So here's the first in a series of what I hope will be entertaining and informative interviews.

1 - Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get started in narrating/producing audio books? How many audio books have you narrated?

I started out as a stage actor at age nine. I basically did that until I was about twenty-eight, which is when I landed my first Voice Over job. I started out voicing Anime, which I still do, but that’s a whooole other story. I then branched off into commercial, elearning, corporate narration, all of that. It was one day in 2010 when I just sort of sat down and said, “I’ve always really, really wanted to narrate Audiobooks… I’m just going to freakin’ make that happen.” And I did. Becoming my own engineer/ producer is something that is still very much in its, oh, let’s say adolescent years for me. I’m getting better and better, though. J


2 - How much acting is involved in narrating a story?

It’s all acting, really. Even if you’re “just narrating” long non-dialogue passages. You’re still selling the listener and image, you’re drawing them in, you’re exciting their senses with your voice. That’s acting. That’s storytelling. I believe that Audiobook Narration may be the purest, most real, bare-bones form of acting that exists.


3 - What was the most difficult or challenging aspect of narrating FATAL SHADOWS?

 Figuring out Adrien, in general, and what his whole “deal” was. I guess I mean his arc, his progression from where he had just been in life, and where he was going, and making all of that make aural sense to the reader in my characterization.


4 - What character was the most fun to narrate? Why?

 Claude, for sure. I have a definite love for the Queens of RuPaul’s drag race, and Claude just sort of felt like one of them to me. He also, in my mind, had elements of Lafayette from True Blood, so I tried to encapsulate all of that in him, vocally.


5 - What character was the most difficult to narrate? Why?

Jake, probably. I didn’t like Jake much, still not sure I do. But I’m trying to wrap my brain around him. Anyway, it’s hard to give voice to a character that you don’t at first fully grasp or like. But I found my voice for him, went with it, and I think it’s worked really well. Hopefully as the series progresses, Jake and I will get along better. ;-)


6 - Was there a particular scene you think you read especially well? Or that you particularly enjoyed reading?
For some reason, the scene between Adrien and Lisa, having brunch together on that windy balcony(?) really sticks with me, as a sort of nice “slice-of-life and realism” type scene. And then, of course, the climactic scene with Bruce toward the end, which I think sort of dovetails with the next question…


7 - How awkward is it to read erotic scenes aloud?
For me, it’s not awkward at all, unless my partner’s home. Then I feel silly and sort of “judged”, even though he’s not the one doing the judging. It’s all in my head, like so much of all our personal bs, yeah? Anyway, it’s just another form of colorful narration for me, unless it’s written really poorly or awkwardly, which I just don’t find happens much in the work I get to voice.


8 - What’s the most satisfying or rewarding part of narrating/producing an audio book?
The finished product, honestly. That’s number one. Great author/customer reviews and the check come in a close second, duh. But really, it is just the finished product, that entity that exists out there now in the ether, or on CD format, as a wonderful story that will entertain such a wide range of people for, well, as long as technology exists.


9 - Do you ever find yourself wishing the author (naturally not me!!!) hadn’t taken the story in a particular direction? Or is narrating a much more detached process?
 I’ll go wherever the author goes, that’s my job. THAT HAVING BEEN SAID, there have been times when, while I’m narrating, my eyes are bugging out, or my head is gently shaking back and forth, because I’m thinking, “oh hell NO he/ she did NOT just write that down! Really? We’re going here? Alright, well damn.”


10 - Where can readers/listeners find out more about you and your work?
Generally, is not a bad start. But, if you’re interested only in my Audiobook Narration, it’s best to go to, and type in Chris Patton as a search term, and you’ll pull up almost every title I’ve narrated! Also, if you’re a Tweeter, my Twitter is #lechrispatton.

Friday, February 22, 2013

If You Don’t Answer, I’ll Just Ring it Off the Wall


I’ve been catching up on my Publisher’s Weekly reading. One of the January issues had a couple of interesting articles on social media. Key word being discoverability. Due in part to the current glut caused by self-publishing, every author is fighting the same battle – where to find that rare species of reader who doesn’t ultimately want to be a writer? Here in niche publishing, we’re like leopards competing for prey on the Serengeti. Every week there are a slew of new releases. New titles from new authors. How can they all survive and thrive?

Well, they can’t. Which I guess explains some of the exciting goings on in recent days about who, and who would not, be attending various conferences. So...discoverability.

Does it have to be face-to-face and up close? No. Not at all. That's part of the joy and beauty of ebooks. Most of the marketing happens online. And it's not just ebook authors who stick to the airwaves for promo. The majority of print and mainstream authors don't spend time doing signings and conferences the way they used to. We have the tools, we have the technology, that allow us to reach many, many more people in a matter of days than we could reach in person over a matter of years. However, in the PW article, a number of media experts were interviewed and one of the big points made was that authors largely use social media incorrectly. Which naturally caught my attention. Their point was something I’ve been saying for a while (but had started to wonder about). Quality not quantity.

Everyone is focused on building those lists of followers and friends. We get caught up in the numbers game. I do it too. I start thinking of ways I could ramp up my numbers on Twitter, on Facebook, on Goodreads, here on this blog. I don’t want to look less popular than the other kids!  

But the point these media experts were trying to make – the counsel they give their clients – is that it is all about the quality of the interaction. Their suggestion was that having lunch with three readers was more valuable in practical terms than adding a thousand followers on any social media site you care to name.

Now, granted, you have lunch in person and that gets back to the panic over how few opportunities authors have to interact face-to- face with readers. But it isn't the face-to-face that matters most. It's what happens during that lunch. And what happens is time is spent and attention is paid. And this can be done in person or from a distance. You simply have to be willing to interact in a real and meaningful way with your readers.

According to the experts (who are all paid by authors to boost their discoverability) too much of our social media interaction is focused on advertising to customers. That's the wrong way to think about it. The original intent of social media was to…socialize. It was achieving something that could only previously be achieved in person. And, yeah, you don't have to tell me that socializing is easier when we have a few drinks and our friends around us. Believe me, I totally get why conferences are a great idea and why writers want to attend these conferences . Not just to meet readers, but also to network with other writers.

Anyway, I’m lucky enough to have a remarkably loyal and engaged readership (and thank you for that), but there’s always that feeling of…should I be doing more? I see authors in this very genre with tens of thousands of followers. And though it’s obvious from their various social media sites that there’s not much real interaction, and though their Amazon numbers and reviews aren’t any better than mine, there is that persistent feeling of unease. Am I doing enough? How can I keep my current readers happy and engaged? How can I reach the readers who don't currently know me or my work?

(I don't know the answer, by the way. This is just me thinking aloud.)

Face-to-face interaction is not always possible, but I'm here to tell you that you can still reach readers and form meaningful relationships -- relationships being what it's all about -- through social media and your online presence. You just have to use social media the way it was intended. For socializing. In a manner that is both fun and professional.
Take the time to really interact with readers. Not only is it more effective, it's more enjoyable for you. I mean, if we'd wanted to be salesmen we'd all have jobs with Encyclopedia Britannica, right?

Oh. No we wouldn't, because that's all done online now. Which is kind of my point.




Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Despite falling for aloof manga artist Kai Tashiro, Homicide Detective Ryo Miller is determined to break the alibi Kai is supplying his murderous boyfriend--even if it means breaking Kai with it.

Let the head-scratching begin! Blood Red Butterfly is coming in for a landing. This started out as such a simple little idea. I would support the release of the Japanese translations of Fair Game, etc. by doing a little Japanese-themed story. So, originally, it was going to be a short story, but then...well, you know me. It got a little complicated. So it ended up being a novella. And I ended up spending about twice the usual time on it because....because....

Let me put it this way. REMIND ME not to start next year off with a big complicated literary experiment.  I like to ease into these things. Start the year off with characters I know, situations that are familiar, books that are relatively easy to write.

That said, THANK GOD this is finished and now available on Kindle, Nook, All Romance Ebooks and Smashwords.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Things to Do, Places to Go

I'm often asked how I manage to balance writing time with all the rest of the busyness that comes with the job -- promotion, marketing, taxes...heck, just answering email! Looking back, I think trying to keep up with everything was a contributing factor to my burn out. I used to have a 48 hour rule for answering email, then it turned into a week, then it turned into...Heeeeelp, I'm drowning...

I guess a lot of the email could be turned over to my trusty virtual assistant, but no. People are writing Josh Lanyon. Whatever they have to say, it is for Josh Lanyon to hear it and respond to it. Eventually.

So I'm still exploring all the possibilities for making the best use of my time. Of course I know now that I have to build in time off, take breaks, take deep breaths, spend time with family and friends and the guy who gets very testy when I don't show up to dinner. I was trying to create a regular schedule, nine to five and weekends off, just doesn't work that way.

There are days I can't write until quite late or at all because something else has come up -- sometimes it's work related like listening to audio files or uploading files or commissioning covers or filling out tax forms or...just...stuff. There's just a never ending parade of stuff to deal with. That's the life of a small business owner, which is what a professional writer is.

So nine to five doesn't really work. It's got to stay a little more fluid to accomodate the ebb and flow of the creative tide as well as the realities of running a small business. I won't deny it's a heady pleasure to get to figure out how you want to arrange your own work schedule. I mean, I well remember the days (years) when my work schedule was arranged by others.

What seems to be working right now is a four day writing work and then three days of writing business and working on other projects. That seems to deal with my creative restlessness and give me enough time to do things like grocery shop, go to therapy, answer emails, do edits, etc. I just noticed today that what it doesn't include is an actual time off weekend, but maybe I don't need that so much as I need to be able to take time when I do feel like a break. That's probably more like it. I don't want to feel guilty if I use Wednesday to go to lunch with a friend.

For the sake of my wrists, I have to limit how much actual typing I do, but beyond that, it's pretty relaxed and that seems to be working. I'm moving forward slowly but surely. I finished that ugly rough draft of Blood Red Butterfly, worked on the outlines for Winter Kill and Stranger on the Shore, got back to work on The Boy With the Painful Tattoo, and Monday I'm back filling in the blanks (chasms) of Blood Red Butterfly. I guess the proof as to whether this works or not will be at the end of this week when I see whether I have actually finished BRB on schedule. If not, I'll have to reevaluate because, while I'm all for keeping things loose and creative, I do still have to pay the bills!