The Kindle ebook edition of Bliss or Bust: Uplifting Thoughts is free this Labor Day weekend.

The book has been out since February. The way it came about is a little interesting. I basically gathered little impressions bit by bit over a few months a couple years back. I sat at my computer for half an hour first thing in the morning and asked for a positive message to share. I was using the tidbits in a weekly email and I wanted a simple uplifting thought that took only a small amount of time to read but which hung with the reader in a good way for the rest of the day, maybe longer.

As I moved away from internet marketing and my attempt to build a personal development membershipsite, I still wanted to share these little bits. I received good feedback from readers that the messages really were uplifting. People often commented that each time they opened the email, they got an idea that they really needed to hear, something that gave them relief. I wanted to provide a way for that to continue.

Pulling the pieces together into an ebook was easy enough. Once that was done I wanted to keep up a head of steam and so I put the paperback together the following month. And for the third month, I wanted to get it out in audiobook. It was actually the process of prepping to release my own book in audiobook format that led me to narrate for others and I’m having fun with that now.

Anyway, I hope you’ll go grab a free copy of the ebook for yourself this weekend. And I hope you find it uplifting too!

Learning About Goodreads

I’ve spent a good amount of time orientating and establishing myself on Goodreads in the past ten days or so. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have decided to make some adjustments to my social media activities. This post is about my learning curve and initial impressions.

First of all, it was refreshing to receive a reply from the Goodreads Twitter account when I tweeted that I was joining in. Just when I thought there weren’t many conversations left to be had on Twitter, I see that Goodreads posts some really good stuff there, and they do strive to engage users too.

The reason Goodreads came across my radar is that I was listening to a new book marketing podcast where they were talking about a new book released about Goodreads for authors by Frances Caballo. I grabbed that book for a quick overview, and it did help me assimilate quicker. Goodreads is decently user-friendly but some things seem pretty hidden and Frances’ book help with that as well as providing a good understanding of the culture on Goodreads.

I also found some very good articles online about Goodreads for authors.

From there, I worked on completing my profile and adding most of the books I’ve read in the past decade or so as well as several reviews. I also applied for an author’s page.

Next, I set off to find a few groups to join and, boy did I find some good ones! I settled on three: Audiobooks, Short and Sweet Treats, and, most thrilling to me, a Kresley Cole IAD group (I’m so in that fan club). Finding groups to check out was not the easiest thing, but I learned that using the tags list worked very well for me.

Listopia lists have been a curiosity for me for quite some time. After joining a few groups, I decided to create one about astrology books.

At this point, I had introduced myself on the discussion boards for the groups that I joined and began to contribute to the dialog where I could. I also followed authors and reviewers whose work I liked. So now I had a pretty good home stream to greet me when I visited, but I started to wonder about how to add friends. I hadn’t received a single invitation to connect since setting up my profile, and I was glad, but I also felt a little pitiful with a goose egg on the friend count.

After being on Twitter for so many years and being primarily a reciprocal follower who became a master of the list to see the updates of the people whose tweets I definitely wanted to see, I knew from the beginning that my strategy on Goodreads would be different.

I chose not to auto-invite any of my contacts as Goodreads offered when I initially signed up. I declined for the reason mentioned above and also because I wanted to customize every invitation I sent. That’s just good manners it seems. Instead, I honed in on criteria I wanted for friends on Goodreads before connecting with anyone. Namely, I want to find interesting people with similar reading interests who are also quite active on Goodreads.

I had already met several people fitting the criteria through the groups I joined. So I sent out a few invitations, customizing them, of course, and always checking the “compare books” feature to see if we have similar tastes. People have been so kind to accept the invitations. Several new friends replied right away with a warm thanks and hello. I’ve already discovered many books and audiobooks for my to-read list, and I’m excited about that. In fact, I’ve already read several. For a reading junkie like me, it’s heaven. I also love checking in on my Goodreads friends daily to see what they are up to and encourage where I can.

As a final exercise in jumping into the deep end with Goodreads, I’m doing a book giveaway. It started today and ends in a month on August 23. I have twenty-five paperback books laying around, and I’m so happy to have something to do with them now! A Goodreads Giveaway is essentially a raffle where people who enter can receive the paperback free. I am stunned to see that people have signed up already. It’s the most eyes I’ve had on the little book since it was published in February. Pretty cool!

All in all, I am so glad I took the time to join in on Goodreads. It feels social and interesting, a rare combination. I feel energized after hanging out there and checking in with friends, also rare for me as an introvert. If you enjoy reading and talking about what you read, you might like it there too.

My New Microphone

I have now completed one entire project and have started two more using my new microphone. I purchased it in celebration after getting a deal for my first fiction audiobook production. I promised an update about it in a previous post so here we go. The microphone along with a new editing technique that I learned have resulted in increased audio quality and more efficient editing, a win-win!

Previously, I had a USB condenser mic. The Samson C01U. It has been an excellent microphone with a very nice sound quality. It was inexpensive so it was perfect when I first started out in audio with tutorials and screencasts. Then it moved along with me nicely to podcasting. But I needed something different for long form audio projects because it picked up everything. It captured breathing and mouth clicks as well as noise from the rest of the house, even outside. Things like the tv downstairs and the neighbors car starting. So I needed to wait for quiet times in the house (really rare) to record and still spent excessive time editing.

In fact, I only used that Samson mic for the first audiobook I released: Freelance Writing Business, which you can hear a sample from below, just click the red “play” circle.

For the next couple audiobooks that I narrated, I used my Roland R-05 Recorder’s onboard microphone. I love that little recorder but rookie move, I now know. They didn’t come out bad though. I even recorded my own audiobook with that setup. Below is a sample from another project I did with it.

At that point, I started studying narration specifically and learned how lame it was to use a portable digital recorder. I thought I wanted to go further with narrating but I needed to be sure before throwing a lot of cash into it. I really wanted to make due with what I had if possible.

No sooner did I start thinking that way and begin settling in to work with what I had, did I get the invitation to addition for my first fiction read. Once I got that deal signed, I knew I needed to level up on the microphone. I also needed voice acting lessons stat! Well, this post is about the mic so more on what else I did in to prepare in a later post.

So regarding the mic situation, enter one of my long-time mentors. Like so many of my mentors, he doesn’t necessarily know he is my mentor specifically. Rather, I study whatever information (blog, podcasts, books, articles, courses) he has created. In this case, I have been following Cliff Ravenscraft, the Podcast Answerman for quite a while. He is an expert on podcast development, especially equipment and start-up. I have taken a couple of his courses and can highly recommend him. Anyway, I have heard him mention the benefits of a dynamic microphone many times and decided after much research to take his suggestion and get the Heil PR-40 microphone for myself. I actually ordered mine through Cliff because I wanted the whole microphone package he recommended.

Below is a sample (warning: adult themes) of the first audiobook that I used the new microphone on. So much better, I think.

So there’s some juicy details about my new microphone. I also wanted to share a real good noise reduction technique for Audacity that is part of my regular routine now.

Of course, I have a lot of room for improvement in narrating and editing to go still yet. I’m just getting started! The foundation is good though. Now I have a pretty decent equipment setup and I’m ready to take on the next challenges of learning voice acting technique, microphone technique, and storytelling.

I’m making some changes in my social media repertoire. I’ve been on LinkedIn for a real long time, but I’m not feeling it is worth my focus any longer. I began to feel recently like it was time to let it go due to feeling rather uninspired there and kinda like it was a chore.

This is different from when I exited Facebook in 2010. That was due to general irritation with what I perceived as a black hat way of doing business. That combined with a general icky feeling anytime I logged in to check my timeline. It got too icky to ignore so I checked out.

I didn’t really have any plan in mind when I deleted my LinkedIn account. I figured I would just stick with my favorite, Twitter. Keep it simple, you know, update things here at my blog more often and tweet. That, I suppose, was the extent of it.

Enter GoodReads. It seems once again that as soon as I let go of something that is kinda feeling haggard, it makes room for something more lovely to enter the picture. So for the last several days, I’ve been getting involved there and I think I may have found my people. Book people, of course! Why didn’t I see that sooner?!

I’m now working on narrating and producing my sixth audiobook! I am shocked to also report that it is a fiction book.

I thought that I might eventually get into fiction narration but was planning on it being later…maybe much later. After listening to the great Robert Petkoff narrate my favorite paranormal romance book series, I was just a tad bit intimidated. I’ve never had acting classes and haven’t played much with making different voices or anything like that. Still, I thought it would be so fun to narrate fiction audiobooks too, maybe someday after more preparation.

Well, later was what I was thinking but a neat opportunity came my way. I was invited to audition to read a book in Warren Adler’s, Fiona Fitzgerald Mystery Series. He is the one who wrote The War of the Roses and Random Hearts.

After doing a little research and reading the Amazon sample of the book they asked me to read for, I decided, “What the heck?!” The writing was so good and I loved the main character right away. I figured it would be fun to try it out anyway. It was fun, and a little scary.

As it turned out, I got the gig! I’ve already started the project. Today I am reading chapter four and producing chapter two. Only twenty more chapters to read and twenty-two more chapters to edit and produce. The deadline is June 1 so I have to hustle. It seems to be going very well so far, even with the addition of a new microphone which I’ll write about more in a later post.

Now Narrating

I just delivered my first audiobook production project, and it feels great. I think this is the start of something awesome!

As it happens, I was just following my nose as usual. I published my ebook in February this year. Then I published it in paperback in March. In preparation for releasing the audiobook in April, I set up a profile at ACX. ACX has been on my radar since listening to Joanna Penn’s podcasts. She has several about turning your book into an audiobook with all the why’s and how’s. Joanna peeked my interest especially since I already have experience with audio from doing my own podcast. Also, I’ve been an Audible customer for a while, and I just love it, so I figured, “Why not?” By the way, click my affiliate link to ==> Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks.

I knew I wanted to narrate my book which authors sometimes do especially in nonfiction. So I set up a profile on ACX. While there, I learned that narrators had a separate profile area. Because I’d recently started to think that narrating audiobooks would be a real cool gig, I set up my narrator/producer profile there too. I added a couple of one-minute samples from my podcast and left it at that. I thought I would visit again after publishing my audiobook to figure out how to get a deal to narrate books for others.

As it turned out, within two days I received an offer to produce an audiobook! I could not believe it. Later, within a week or so, I found three audiobooks I was interested in producing so I auditioned. The process was so easy if more than a little scary but I was feeling bold. In a couple more days time, I was offered all three deals! Each project is only going to be about an hour long, so very small audiobooks. I think they are perfect projects to begin with. vAll four audiobooks will be completed and delivered by the end of the month. This is going to be so much fun!

In the past ten years, I haven’t taken comments on my blog. I’ve researched it and thought about it several times. I think I’ve even turned them on for a day or two, then gotten uncomfortable and turned them off again real quick like…that sounds familiar. Maybe it’s an introvert thing or maybe it’s something else.

You may be thinking, “It seems like a blog should have comments. It seems like that’s one of the essential things that make a blog, well, a blog. So what’s your problem, Stevie?”

Mainly three things.

The first thing is that I don’t want to deal with spam. It’s a deterrent. Until bloggers can launch a counter attack at spammers with warrior code like the one Holly Ashwin develops in Kresley Cole’s paranormal romance, Dark Desires After Dusk, I just don’t have the inclination to be a sitting goose.

The second thing is that my posts probably wouldn’t generate many keeper comments. I don’t have much traffic. I also don’t tend to write in a way that encourages comments since that’s not the purpose for my writing, and I don’t want it to be. I don’t want to change my style or my choice of topics to generate comments. That feels too much like playing to the audience while I want to strive for authenticity and being my weird self. I can’t do that too well when I’m anticipating comments.

Thirdly, and this is the weird one, I don’t like people coming to my workspace and putting their post-it notes on my computer screen. Guess I’m territorial like that. I just like my space the way I like it. Also, I really do like to encourage people to create their own space. I think it can be a very good thing for most people. I like having a home base from which to share my perspective. Maybe you would too?