I always wanted my Circle C series to be available as audio books. It would be fun to listen to them when traveling or walking. Now, all four Circle C series (and two Goldtown) are audio. The youngest series, Circle C Beginnings, was my experiment on Audible. I had no idea what I was doing, and my sweet young narrator did know much more. But they turned out nice for the very youngest listeners.
Then I found Annette Romano through Audible and she encouraged me to give her a try. I was doing the math and thought, “Eeeks, this will cost a fortune,” but Annette wanted to send me a sample of anything I chose “just in case.” I sent her something that involved a Spanish accent, and I loved it so much I got sucked in! *cue laughter* Since then, Annette has recorded the three remaining series: Stepping Stones, Adventures, and Milestones. So, let’s have a fun visit with Annette Romano, learn something about her talents, and throw in a fun giveaway at the same time!
Annette Romano has been a devoted reader since she was five years old. She grew up in Seattle, Washington, with some of the coolest libraries around. She’s an actress, director, and teacher and appreciates the power of language and good writing. She’s also a mother and a grandmother and has read aloud most of her life. Her favorite non-profit is Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary, a rescue and conservation site for wild horses and burros. To learn more and advocate for our four-footed friends, please visit the Return to Freedom website.
Annette’s love of horses and reading books makes her the perfect narrator for Andi’s adventures. Learn more at SojournAudioNarration.com
Giveaway: Set of Circle C Adventures Audio Books
This Giveaway has ended.
These six Circle C Adventures (as do the rest of the series) come on a brand-new portable MP3 player, produced by MegaVoice, a company that distributes audio Bibles to the world. They sold me their “Pathway” player, loaded with my series. I’m very excited about this new product. Each MP3 player is super easy to use (and find chapters and books) and includes a set of earbuds, recharging cord, and even a lanyard!
One lucky winner will receive this MP3 player loaded with the entire Circle C Adventures series. (Two other winners will receive a digital download of the Circle C book of their choice.) You will learn how to enter the giveaway at the end of our narrator visit.
Narrator Visit with Annette
It’s so fun to visit with you today, Annette. Thanks for taking the time to share your story. Let’s dig right in to my questions
1. What made you want to narrate books in the first place?
I wanted to narrate books because I love reading and storytelling as an art form. However, there’s such a difference between reading to yourself, and reading aloud for another. I read to my daughter for years and years, as she grew up. I realized I missed that. Also, it gives me a reason to act. I really enjoy finding the voices for the different characters.
2. Tell us a little about your journey into narrating audio books. Any funny experiences?
I’ve been an audiobook narrator since 2015. I began in my tiny front closet. It got very hot in there! My first attempts at narrating were not so great! I printed my script pages out and clothes-pinned them to a hanger. That was not the best idea for keeping things quiet, but I had to start somewhere. As I stuck with it, I learned more about how to improve the overall sound quality. I also learned how to do a better job overall delivering dialogue (including making characters distinct) and controlling the volume, especially during sequences where the action is fast-paced and intense.
My funniest narration experience? Well, nothing truly wacky, but once I’m all set up and ready to go, my little cat invariably decides that now she would like to come in. She sleeps on the floor during recording. Sometimes I have to edit out her snoring. I really enjoyed finding voices for a dog and a bird for a children’s book I did was fun!
3. What is your favorite genre to narrate?
Young adult. I love the Andi books best. I knew I wanted to voice Andi and all the Carter clan and their friends when I read the books from the beginning to end and laughed out loud. Sometimes I cried. They are so true to life. I once also narrated a story about a high school girls’ cross-country running team that was touching and inspirational.
4. How many hours does it take to record one hour of a finished book?
It totally depends on how complex the book is in terms of characters, accents, action, and so on. But on average, it takes anywhere from 3-6 hours to complete one finished hour of an audio book.
5. To expand on that idea, how long does it take to finish up one of the Circle C Adventures books?
That’s a tricky question! There’s a lot of prep work that goes into narration. All told between that and the actual recording and editing, it takes several weeks. If it was the only thing I was doing, it might take less time, but I also have to take into account unexpected noise and just making mistakes while I read. Plus, I have to stop for snacks.
6. What do you enjoy most about narrating, and what do you enjoy least about the whole process?
What I enjoy most is getting to collaborate with the author. What I enjoy least is so much SITTING in one place!
7. What was your favorite book to narrate for the Circle C recordings and why?
My favorite book – and this is a hard thing to say, because I love them ALL – is The Last Ride. I don’t want to give any spoilers here, in case anyone hasn’t read the Milestones series yet, but this story touched me to the core. I could barely record some particular parts of the story because it made me cry. And this book still does. I’ve read that book again and again, and it has the same impact every time, even though I know what’s going to happen.
8. Speaking about being moved, do you often cry when you are recording a book?
I always feel a little teary when I’m recording the last chapter of a book, because it means that the experience is coming to an end. And even though I might record chapters out of order so as to keep characters straight, I always record the last chapter last no matter what. I’m lucky with the Andi books because I’ve been able to return to the Circle C and Memory Creek over and over!
9. Okay. Let’s talk about the actual narrating process. What does your journey from manuscript to finished audio book look like?
- First thing I do is read everything through and take notes. I ask the author about any words or phrases I don’t know.
- I look at the whole series (in the case of the Circle C Adventures) and make character lists. I look at each book and determine time period, place, and age of characters in that book.
- I divide each book up into chapters, so I know which characters I’ll be voicing.
- I record the chapters, usually in order. If there’s a certain difficult character, I will sometimes record all of the chapters where that character speaks, so as to stay consistent.
- I run the tracks through noise reduction, which helps with any airplane noises or other unexpected sounds.
- Then I edit. I might edit one chapter at a time, or several. It depends. I try to get up and do yoga and go swimming to keep myself from getting stiff and chubby!
- I take notes of the mistakes I didn’t catch while recording and when I have my list, I go back in and re-record (fix) them. After that, I upload the chapters to ACX (the Audible recording platform) or send them to the author, or both.
- The author listens to each chapter. If they catch something I missed, they let me know and I fix those too.
- After all that, I record the opening and closing credits and choose a “retail sample.” That is a fun part! I like thinking about a listeners’ first impressions and what will make them want to hear the whole story!
10. Wow! No wonder it takes you several weeks to record a book, what with narrating and editing and fixing. So, the next question is: Which do you enjoy more, the recording (narration) or the editing and why?
I like the narration best! The editing is time-consuming and tedious. It’s about finding mistakes for corrections, editing out too many breaths, and listening for background noises that might have made it through the noise reduction. I am sometimes surprised by funny pronunciation mistakes I made and didn’t realize it, or there can be a mysterious gap and something is missing (for some reason). One thing I do like about editing is that I have a hand in controlling the pace. Some of that is done when reading, but I can fix or change it up a little when editing, as well.
11. You have recorded 18 “Andi” books in all, between the Stepping Stones, Adventures, and Milestones, so you know the characters very well by now. With which Circle C character do you relate the most?
The main character, Andi! Like Andi, I love animals and being outdoors. I value my family and friends. I like adventure and get into scrapes sometimes. And I ask God for help when I need it, and Thank Him for guiding me. And I – hopefully – learn from my experiences. That’s what Andi does and what we should all do.
12. One of the reasons I liked the sample you sent me is because you did the Spanish accent well. How many different “foreign” accents can you do, and how does that help make the books come alive?
Speaking in accents is so much fun. My favorite accents to do are Irish and Spanish, which makes sense since that’s my heritage. I’ve also done German, French, Russian, Brazilian Portuguese, and a variety of British accents. Did you know there are around 40 different British dialects?
I think it gets us closer to who a character is when their part is narrated in their native accent. I’ve also had to do a range of different ages, and of course, I have to do men as well as women. For the Circle C books, it was important to establish early on the differences between Justin, Chad, and Mitch so they wouldn’t all sound alike, since they’re brothers who are pretty close in age. But I like a good challenge. It makes this work fun.
Thanks, Annette! I really enjoyed getting to know you better, and I think my readers got to know the person behind the voices in the Circle C audio books.
You’re welcome. This was fun! If anyone has any questions, I’m happy to answer them. Just ask them in the comments. Happy listening! ~ Annette
This Giveaway Has Ended. Thanks for Playing!
Enter the Circle C audio giveaway to win all six Circle C Adventures audio books on this new MP3 player. Includes earbuds, charging cord, and lanyard. 27 hours of listening fun! Click the button and follow the prompts to enter, and to learn how to earn extra entries. (To buy the audio books, go here >>) Bonus: Two other winners will receive digital downloads of the Circle C (or Goldtown) single book of their choice.
Giveaway runs one week, January 18 – January 25. Winner announced Thursday, January 26, 2023.