Today I’m happy to have Lauren Carr guest posting here.
The Narrator: That Magical Voice that Brings Books to Life
After years of prodding by readers, I finally made the jump to have my mysteries made available in audio. Of course, the first question was, “Where and who would I find to narrate my mystery masterpieces?”
One option that I immediately took off the table for the narrator was not me! That left me with only one other option—finding the perfect voice to bring my books to life.
Since my first three books had been picked up by a traditional audiobook publisher years ago, I had previous experience with hearing my books in audio. Therefore, I had some definite ideas of what I was looking for in a narrator. First thing, I did not want a female voice. Not that I have anything against women, but since the protagonists in all three of my mystery series were men I wanted a male voice.
I have been asked many times what movie stars I would envision playing Mac Faraday of the Mac Faraday mysteries, or Joshua Thornton of the Lovers in Crime, or Murphy Thornton in the Thorny Rose mysteries. This question always left me staring blankly. I do not base my characters on any specific movie stars. They are completely unique characters created in my head.
It’s the same way with the perfect narrator. I was seeking a voice that would reflect the personality of my main characters.
Dan Lawson captured Mac Faraday’s All-American, masculine style. I was also looking for a relaxed tone to reflect the casual tone of the resort area setting. An Audible-Approved narrator, Dan had the seal of approval from Audible, which made my decision to use him for The Murders at Astaire Castle and Blast from the Past a no-brainer after I heard his audition.
I wanted to use him for all of my books, but, being an accomplished narrator, he was also in high demand and it was virtually impossible to get on his schedule for additional projects. More than a year later, I had to go searching for another narrator to complete my backlist.
I decided to open Kill and Run, my first Thorny Rose mystery, for auditions on ACX. Once again, I hit gold with the first audition: C.J. McAllister, another Audible Approved narrator.
The Thorny Rose mysteries are set in Washington DC, which is a more sophisticated setting than Spencer, Maryland, and the Mac Faraday mysteries. CJ McAllister’s distinguished tone draws the listener right into this series placed in and around the fast-moving world of our Nation’s Capital.
I had contracted with C.J. to produce Three Days to Forever (which introduces the Thorny Rose detectives), Kill and Run, and A Fine Year for Murder. He is currently working on Candidate for Murder, which also features the Thorny Rose detectives. Look for him to produce A Wedding and a Killing later on this year. As with Dan Lawson, it was difficult to schedule C.J., an excellent narrator, for my entire backlist.
Once again, I was searching for a narrator when James Lewis submitted his audition for Old Loves Die Hard, the second Mac Faraday mystery. I was struck by his smooth, casual, welcoming tone. While his style is different from that of Dan Lawson and C.J. McAllister, it perfectly captures the essence of my Deep Creek Lake series.
As luck would have it, on the same day that I received James Lewis’ audition for Old Loves Die Hard, another narrator, Mike Alger, submitted an audition for the Mac Faraday Mysteries. When I listened to his audition, I liked it, but it did not quite strike the right tone for Mac Faraday. But, I had decided to visit his producer’s page on ACX. In one of Mike’s audio samples, he narrated a book in a simple, down to earth manner with just a touch of a country accent, which was perfect for my Lovers in Crime mystery series is set in the Ohio Valley. Even though Mike Alger was auditioning for the Mac Faraday mysteries, I offered him the Lovers in Crime mysteries.
So now I was working with three narrators for my three series. (Even though Dan Lawson is very much in demand with “paid gigs” from other authors, he has offered to produce more books when available.) During the process, I have learned that the author can’t just sit back and wait for the narrator to wave their magic wand and say, “Fini! It is done!” There are things that the author can do to help make the job easier and less frustrating for the narrator.
• Submit a Cast of Characters. Think of it this way: Narrators are Voice Actors. I include a cast of characters in front of each of my books for the reader, which has proven to be invaluable for the narrators. As a writer, you are expected to include every significant detail about each character’s personality and background within the context of your book to help your readers understand the character. However, I have found that sometimes tiny details that may be obvious to you, since you are the writer, may not be so obvious for the narrator.
For example, Dan narrated Blast from the Past, the fourth Mac Faraday mystery, before any of the other books in that series. I had worked with him in the characterizations, even supplying bios for all of the major characters; however, I had forgotten about a minor recurring series character who did not appear until toward the end of the book. This character, the county prosecutor, was approximately the same age as Mac Faraday. However, Dan’s voice for him was that of an elderly man. I did not catch this error until I was listening to the proof, at which point Dan would have had to re-record whole sections to correct it. Therefore, I let it slide. But I did learn. Go over the characterizations for each significant character with your actor, even minor ones, before they start working on your book.
• Go Over Pronunciation of Important Names and Places. As the author, you may think some words, like names of people and places, are no-brainers because that is the way you hear them. I have learned that this is not necessarily the case. I have discovered that there are several ways to pronounce Faraday (Far-a-DAY) and O’Callaghan (O-CAL-a-han) and Tristan (TRIS-tan). The best way to make sure your narrator gets the pronunciation absolutely correct is to record yourself saying the work with your cell phone, and send the recording to them so that they can hear it themselves.
• Speaking of Errors. Don’t get hung up on tiny errors, no matter whose mistake it may be. Unless your narrator leaves out a whole chapter in which the killer is revealed, your listener is not going to notice. Voice actors may reword a line to make it sound more natural, which will only improve your book. Be conscious of the time and effort your narrator is putting into your book—especially if they are working for shared-royalty. It wasn’t until I was well into this project that I discovered that each of my narrators was renting studio time (money out of their pockets) to work on my books. So don’t send them back to the studio because they put “He said” at the beginning of the sentence instead of at the end.
In an effort to have the audiobook version of A Fine Year for Murder released at the same time as the print and ebook, I had given the uncorrected proof to C.J. McAllister to begin production while the final version was being proofread. I thought that listeners were not going to hear a missing comma or misspelled word. To my horror, while proofing the book, I found significant mistakes that had to be corrected—errors pertaining to the plotline. C.J. had already produced ten chapters of the book when I contacted him with a huge list of corrections. While we allowed many mistakes slide, those that had to be corrected caused C.J. to re-record many sections, which pushed the project back two weeks. Not only that, but he had to juggle other projects he had in the pipeline because of my corrections. (What a guy!) Lesson learned: It’s okay to have your audiobook produced from a proof in order to have a simultaneous release, but make sure it is as perfect as possible before you send it into production!
Last, but certainly not least, make your project worth your producers’ time! In other words, promote your book! (especially if you and the narrator are working for royalty share! Many high-quality, experienced narrators will not agree to invest their time and money into producing a book for half of the royalties from the sales. There’s a reason for that.
When I opened my books for auditions to find a narrator, I immediately found Dan Lawson—first audition, first day and we had made a contract for two books within a matter of days.
I found out later that his agent (I had no idea he had an agent!) had thrown a fit upon learning about our deal for royalty share. The reason: most narrators and audio producers don’t make back the money invested in producing audiobooks through royalties. After a few months, sales will level out and the narrator will only make a few dollars a month.
Having worked as a book publisher, I can see exactly what Dan’s agent was talking about. Many authors have difficulty in promoting their own books. Authors who don’t invest time or money in promoting their books in print and e-book, are not likely to invest it for the audiobook version.
So, if you are lucky enough to get a fabulous narrator to produce your book in audio (especially if he is investing his time and expertise up front in exchange for royalty share), tell the world about it! Promote your book far and wide to make it worth his/her while. Invest in a book tour!
Who knows! He may end up getting lots of paid gigs to fill up his schedule and then not be able to work for you anymore—like what has happened to me. (Sigh)
Welcome to Lauren Carr’s Audiobook-a-palooza Blog Tour! To celebrate the release of Lauren Carr’s mysteries in audiobook format, we have 14 books from her three series on tour!
To follow the tour and to read reviews, please visit Lauren Carr’s page on iRead Book Tours.
Old loves die hard…and in the worst places.
In Old Loves Die Hard, Lauren Carr continues the rags-to-riches story of Mac Faraday, an underpaid homicide detective who inherits 270 million dollars and an estate on Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, from his birth mother on the day his divorce becomes final.
Mac is settling nicely into his new life at Spencer Manor when his ex-wife Christine shows up-and she wants him back! Before Mac can send her packing, Christine and her estranged lover are murdered in Mac’s private penthouse suite at the Spencer Inn, the five-star resort built by his ancestors.
The investigation leads to the discovery of cases files for some of Mac’s murder cases in the room of the man responsible for destroying his marriage. Why would his ex-wife’s lover come to Spencer to dig into Mac’s old cases?
With the help of his new friends on Deep Creek Lake, Mac must use all of his detective skills to clear his name and the Spencer Inn’s reputation, before its five-stars – and more bodies – start dropping!
Question: what do you get the man with everything?
Answer: when that man is the heir of the late mystery writer Robin Spencer, retired homicide detective Mac Faraday, you get him a cold case to solve.
In Shades of Murder, Mac Faraday is once again the heir to an unbelievable fortune. This time the benefactor is a collector of stolen art. But this isn’t just any stolen work of art – it’s a masterpiece with a murder attached to it.
Ilysa Ramsay was in the midst of taking the art world by storm with her artistic genius. Hours after unveiling her latest masterpiece, she is found dead in her Deep Creek Lake studio, and her painting is nowhere to be found.
Almost a decade later, the long lost Ilysa Ramsay masterpiece has found its way into Mac Faraday’s hands and he can’t resist the urge to delve into the case.
A world away, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, former JAG lawyer Joshua Thornton agrees to do a favor for the last person he would ever expect – a convicted serial killer.
The favor: solve the one murder wrongly attributed to him.
Joshua finds an unexpected ally in Cameron Gates, a spunky detective who has reason to believe the young woman known to the media only as Jane Doe, victim number four, was the victim of a copycat. Together, Joshua and Cameron set out to light a flame under the cold case only to find that someone behind the scenes wants the case to remain cold, and is willing to kill to keep it that way.
Little do these detectives know that the paths of their respective cases are on a collision course when they follow the clues to bring them together in a showdown with a killer who’s got a talent for murder!
After an attempted hit ends badly with two of his men dead, mobster Tommy Cruze arrives in Spencer, Maryland, to personally supervise the execution of the witness responsible for putting him behind bars – Archie Monday!
Mac Faraday believes he has his work cut out for him in protecting his lady love from one of the most dangerous leaders in organized crime; but when bodies start dropping in his lakeshore resort town, things may be hotter than even he can handle.
Spencer’s police chief, David O’Callaghan, learns this lesson the hard way when he orders Mac Faraday to stay away from the south end of Spencer’s mountaintop – even though he owns the property. It doesn’t take long for Mac to find out what lies on the other side of the stone wall and locked gate, on which hangs a sign warning visitors to Keep Out!
Topping the list of the 10 top haunted places in America, Astaire Castle is associated with two suicides, three mysterious disappearances, and four murders since it was built almost a century ago – and Mac Faraday owns it!
In spite of David’s warning, Mac can’t resist unlocking the gate to see the castle that supposedly hasn’t seen a living soul since his late mother had ordered it closed up after the double homicide and disappearance of Damian Wagner, a world-famous master of horror novels.
What starts out as a quick tour of a dusty old castle turns into another Mac Faraday adventure when Astaire Castle becomes the scene of even more murders. Mac is going to need to put all of his investigative talents to work to sort out this case that involves the strangest characters he has run into yet – including a wolf man. No, we’re not talking about Gnarly.
Determined to get her pretty face in front of the cameras, Khloe Everest fakes an abduction only to make a grand entrance in the midst of a press conference held by Spencer’s Police Chief David O’Callaghan.
Three years later, after failing to catapult her notoriety into a long-lasting celebrity, Khloe Everest returns to Spencer upon her mother’s sudden death and seemingly finds another weapon to propel herself into the spotlight. Unfortunately, someone kills her before she can make this entrance.
In Lauren Carr’s sixth Mac Faraday Mystery, Mac and his friends come up against reality stars, politicians, has-beens, and wannabes. Mac also finds himself face-to-face with an old foe from his past who had managed to escape arrest during their last encounter. Now, Mac sees that his adversary has only become more powerful, and dangerous, with the passage of time.
Intent to not let this killer escape again, Mac and his friends need to put all of their talents together to put a stop to a cold-blooded lady killer.
Two people are brutally murdered in their summer place on Deep Creek Lake. Suspected of the murders, former child star and one-time teenybopper idol Lenny Frost takes innocent bystanders hostage in a local pub and demands that Mac Faraday find the killer. Can Mac save the hostages and himself from the wrath of the enraged has-been by piecing together the clues in less than twelve hours, or will it be a fatal last call at the stroke of midnight?
With three days left to the year, Deep Creek Lake is hopping with holiday vacationers and wedding guests pouring into the Spencer Inn for Mac Faraday and Archie Monday’s huge wedding ceremony which is being touted as the social event of the year.
But droopy flowers and guests who failed to RSVP are the least of Mac’s and Archie’s problems when a professional hit squad hits Spencer Manor to send the groom, Joshua Thornton, Archie’s mother, and Gnarly running for their lives.
With time running out before the big day, Mac Faraday and Spencer’s small police force have to sort through the clues to figure out not only who has been targeted for assassination, but also who is determined to stop everything…forever!
Spring is in the air. In Deep Creek Lake, the burst of blossoms on the trees has the effect of a starting pistol in the race to get the resort area ready in time for the seasonal residents return to Spencer, Maryland.
This year, the Spencer Inn, Mac Faraday’s five-star resort, has the added duty of preparing for the Diablo Ball, an annual benefit event that used to kick off Deep Creek Lake’s summer season. The exclusive gala has drawn in A-listers from across the country, including suspects and witnesses connected to Ashton Piedmont, a young woman who had disappeared while skinny dipping in Deep Creek Lake five years earlier, days after the last Diablo Ball.
Intrigued by a mysterious phone call from a young woman claiming to be Ashton, retired homicide detective Mac Faraday can’t resist diving head first into the cold case. But he’s not the only one. Someone behind the scenes has gone to a lot of trouble to bring Ashton Piedmont’s friends and enemies to the Diablo Ball, which promises to be a gala event to die for!
Police Chief David O’Callaghan and Chelsea Adams’ wedding day is fast approaching. Unfortunately, at the last minute, David discovers that there is one small problem to be taken care of before he can walk down the aisle – divorce his first wife!
Lauren Carr takes fans of the Mac Faraday mysteries to the Big Apple in this nail-biting adventure. In Cancelled Vows, David, Mac, and Gnarly, too, rush to New York City to dissolve David’s marriage to an old girlfriend – and he’s got five days to get it done. When murder throws up a road block, it is up to David’s best man, Mac Faraday, and Gnarly, K9-in-waiting, to sort through the clues to get David to the church in time!
When Homicide Detective Cameron Gates befriends Dolly, the little old lady who lives across the street, she is warned not to get lured into helping the elderly woman by investigating the unsolved murder of one of her girls. “She’s senile,” Cameron is warned. “It’s not a real murder.”
Such is not the case. After Dolly is brutally murdered, Cameron discovers that the sweet blue-haired lady’s “girl” was a call girl who had been killed in a mysterious double homicide.
Meanwhile, Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton is looking for answers to the murder of a childhood friend, a sheriff deputy whose cruiser is found at the bottom of a lake. The deputy had disappeared almost 20 years ago while privately investigating the murder of a local prostitute.
It doesn’t take long for the Lovers in Crime to put their cases together to reveal a long-kept secret that some believe is worth killing to keep undercover.
Joshua’s eldest son, Joshua Thornton Jr. (J.J.) has graduated at the top of his class from law school and returns home to spend the summer studying for the bar exam. However, to Joshua’s and Cameron’s shock and dismay, J.J. moves into the main house at Russell Ridge Farm and Orchards, the largest dairy farm in the Ohio Valley, in order to rekindle a romance with Suellen Russell, the one-time leader of a rock band who is twice his age. Quickly, they learn that she has a deep dark secret.
The move brings long buried tensions between the father and son to the surface – not the least of which being J.J.’s inexplicable dislike for his stepmother Cameron. But when a brutal killer strikes, the Lovers in Crime must set all differences with Joshua’s son aside to solve the crime before J.J. ends up in the cross-hairs of a murderer.
Five women with seemingly nothing in common are found brutally murdered in a townhome outside Washington, DC. Among the many questions surrounding the massacre is what had brought these apparent strangers together only to be killed.
Taking on his first official murder case, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, believes that if he can uncover the thread connecting the victims, then he can find their murderer.
Before long, the case takes an unexpected turn when Murphy discovers that one of the victims has a connection to his stepmother, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates. One wintry night, over a dozen years before, her first husband, a Pennsylvania State trooper, had been run down while working a night shift on the turnpike.
In this first installment of the Thorny Rose Mysteries, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday sift through a web of lies and cover-ups. Together, can the detectives uncover the truth without falling victim to a cunning killer?
After 10 months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect…except in the middle of the night when, in the darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.
When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family while visiting family at the winery near-by, and suppressed the memory.
Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?
Meet the Author:
Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!
Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband and three dogs (including the real Gnarly’s klutzy nephew Sterling) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Over the past several years Dan Lawson has appeared in numerous spots for radio, television and the internet. He has worked with All-State, Sprint PCS, Mountain Dew and many more. His unique ability to mimic existing characters and celebrities has landed him diverse voice match work ranging from Charlie Sheen to Morgan Freeman.
In 2008 Dan was cast as the first American voice actor for the Korean video game company, Nexon. Over the next several years Dan was the flagship voice of the company, appearing in such titles as Mabinogi, Maple Story, Vindictus, Dragon Nest, Dungeon Fighter Online and Atlantica. In total he has voiced nearly 100 characters for Nexon.
In late 2012 Dan’s voice over career took an unexpected turn into book narration. His first audition landed him the job of narrating The Psychology of Twilight, a psychological look at the wide-spread obsession of the Twilight saga created by Stephanie Meyer. Eighteen more audiobook narrations have followed and show no signs of slowing down.
C.J. McAllister is an Audible Approved Producer — “Audible Approved producers are the best audiobook producers in the business.” Only a small number are awarded this honor.
C.J. has produced best-selling audiobooks in multiple genres/styles, TV commercials/promo teasers, animation projects, interviews (TV and radio), corporate presentations.
Another Audible Approved narrator, voice actor James Lewis has established a solid reputation in fiction as well as non-ficton audiobooks. At latest count, he’s narrated nearly 50.
Although his specialty is noir fiction, James has done several non-fiction books as well on a range of people and subjects: Butch and Sundance, General Custer, Revolutionary War, psychic development, taxes.
James Lewis has been awarded the AudioFile Earphone Award for narration, “The Last Outlaws”. It’s about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
A broadcast veteran of over 30 years, Mike Alger is best known as the award-winning Chief Meteorologist for KTVN-TV in Reno, NV. He is also a successful author, having penned the Mystery-Thriller novel “Snow Storm,” and is the narrator of the audiobook of the same name.