Sending a little love your way — new audio releases and giveaways!

Several years ago, when I was still a newish narrator, I was offered my first paranormal title ever, an action/adventure/romance written by Jeaniene Frost. Halfway to the Grave starred Cat Crawfield, a half-vampire vampire killer, and Bones, a sassy British vampire bounty hunter. Cat was tough, snappy, and sarcastic, deadly Bones had a heart of gold and a checkered past, and the story of their relationship unfolded with plenty of mayhem, power-play, and sizzling chemistry. The book challenged me, entertained me, and helped me make my mark on the audiobook world.

Four years later, Jeaniene has become a smash-hit writer, not only penning many more volumes in the Night Huntress series, but several compelling Night Huntress World spin-offs and the wildly popular Night Prince series, featuring the beloved and feared Vlad. In fact, she’s just about to debut the first in her new NA (new adult) Broken Destiny series, starting with The Beautiful Ashes, which I’ll also be narrating.

Jeaniene and I have become pals while working together so closely over the years, and today — the publication day of three Night Huntress audiobook novellas — we want to celebrate YOU and your loyalty to her stories and our collaboration. You’ve read her books, listened to my performances, sent us fan mail, and made us feel loved every step of the way. We want to show you our gratitude for making these books such a huge success.

So here’s what we have to show our appreciation! Jeaniene and I are each giving away 10 digital download audios from the Night Huntress series — and the winner gets to choose which title!

We’re also giving away a Grand Prize to 1 winner, including digital download audios of the entire Night Huntress series, plus digital audio downloads of the newly-released Night Huntress World novellas (Reckoning, Happily Never After, and Devil To Pay.)

All winners will be chosen by Randomizer. Contest prizes are supplied by Harper Audio and Blackstone Audio (thanks, guys!), and international entries are welcome.

To enter, please follow the rules below:

1. Just comment on this blog post. 

2. Give me your name and the email address where you’d like to be contacted if you’re selected as a prize winner.

3. Due to adult content, you must be 18 years of age old or older, and/or you have the consent of your parent/guardian, so if you’re under 18, get your parent to sign off on your comment or to approve your comment with their own.

The contest starts now and ends June 30th at 11:59pm Est. Winners will be announced July 1st on Jeaniene’s and my blogs.

 BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

Jeaniene and I are also going to be on Twitter for a live chat July 1st from 8pm – 9pm EST. At the end of the chat, we’ll each give away 10 more digital audio download titles from the Night Huntress series or the Night Prince series to ten new winners (and again, it’ll be the winner’s choice which title they receive). That’s a total of twenty new winners between the two of us!

To enter this giveaway, all you need to do is ask us a question during our Twitter chat with the hashtag #AudioChat. Jeaniene’s Twitter handle is @Jeaniene_Frost and mine is @Taviagilbert. Your question can be about audio books, written books, the process of writing or recording, why you should try audio books if you haven’t already, or whatever else you’d like to know. Remember, only participants in the chat will be eligible to win, so don’t be shy! At the end of the chat, the twenty winners will be randomly chosen from among those who participated.

Thanks to everyone who has been such a great supporter. We wouldn’t be here without you!

Good luck, everyone!

 

We Are Water Interview on Sirius XM Radio

Last fall, I was privileged to be part of an award-winning cast of actors who narrated We Are Water by Wally Lamb, an ensemble performance that subsequently received an Earphones Award from AudioFile Magazine. To promote the book, the cast was invited to a public reading at BookCourt in Brooklyn in October, and in November, we were interviewed live by Judith Regan on her Sirius XM radio show.

This flurry of press and enthusiasm for a beautiful novel was exciting, but what meant the most to me was that Wally is a graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts, the school where I earned an MFA in creative non-fiction just a little over a year ago. It was an honor to get to know a fellow VCFA alum, especially one who represents the integrity, artistry, and devotion to craft as well as Wally does, and a great start to my new New York narrating and writing life.

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Sirius XM Radio interview with Judith Regan on November 16, 2013, with Richard Ferrone, Wally Lamb, Cynthia Darlow, Therese Plummer, and Tavia Gilbert.

Sirius XM Radio Interview with Judith Regan, Part 1

On-Air Readings on Sirius XM Radio

Sirius XM Radio Interview with Judith Regan, Part 2

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Public reading at Book Court in Brooklyn on October 26, 2013, with Robin Miles, George Guidall, Wally Lamb, Richard Ferrone, and Tavia Gilbert (back row), and Therese Plummer, Sandy Rustin, Maggi-Meg Reed, and Cynthia Darlow (front row).

Review of We Are Water from AudioFile Magazine

WE ARE WATER 
Wally Lamb
Read by Wally Lamb, George Guidall, Maggi-Meg Reed, Tavia Gilbert, Richard Ferrone, Edoardo Ballerini, Cynthia Darlow, Therese Plummer, Robin Miles, Sandy Rustin

In New York Times bestselling author Wally Lamb’s new novel, Annie Oh falls in love with her Manhattan-based art dealer, Vivica, setting off a stick of emotional dynamite that blasts apart long-held secrets, a twenty-seven-year marriage, and her relationship with her three children. The all-star cast bringing the audiobook to life is led by the maestro George Guidall and the author. Also narrating the intricate and emotional work are Maggi-Meg Reed, Tavia Gilbert, Richard Ferrone, Edoardo Ballerini, Cynthia Darlow, Therese Plummer, Robin Miles, and Sandy Rustin. This team of actors weaves an intricate and wrenching story of a modern society in which changing mores are changing the definition of love and family. R.O. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine / SEPTEMBER 2013

  AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

When Books Take an Unexpected Turn, Make Your Jaw Drop, and Teach You Some Humility

As you all know, I record book after book after book after book in my little recording studio, and I work to make  every project something that I’d want to listen to. That’s the best way I know to keep my standards and expectations of my own craft high.

But I don’t always have high expectations of the books I narrate. When I first began recording audiobooks, I assumed every manuscript that got published and made its way to my sound booth would be artful, insightful, finely-wrought. But let me tell you — that’s far from the truth. Much of what gets published, in print and in audio, is offered to audiences not because the work elevates the soul and spirit of the reader, but because it will sell. And sex sells, violence sells, stereotype sells, anything derivative sells like crazy.

I’ve been very blessed to record  magnificent works of literary art, charming series with recurring characters I adore, and fantastical, sassy, adventure stories, but, like all narrators, I spend my fair share of time recording books that I would never choose to spend time with outside of work.

So when I get a book to narrate that is something very, very special, I am delighted. But I don’t always recognize it immediately. And that was my experience with a book that has become one of my most deeply appreciated  projects to date.

When Harper Audio invited me to narrate a new novel by a sports radio commentator, I was ambivalent. I don’t care about sports at all, except for some sentimentality about the Minnesota Twins (who won the only world series I’ve ever watched, in 1987, with my papa), and a 30-second maximum attention span for YouTube videos of amazing goals by kooky soccer players. I don’t know any names in sports — players, commentators, or otherwise — so when Harper indicated that the book was by Mike Greenberg, my excitement came from finding I had just enough time free in my schedule to squeeze in the recording, not that I was going to work on a book by the man I soon learned was loved and hate-loved by tens of thousands of ESPN devotees.

I started to read All You Could Ask For, which was a funny, well-written story about three women, Brooke, Samantha, and Katherine, who, despite living seemingly perfect lives, were facing challenges I could relate to — broken marriage, aging bodies, bad dates. The book was actually really entertaining, and it was fun and it was all good. It would be a perfectly fine book to spend a week reading and recording.

After I did a little research on Mike, and discovered that he was Greeny, co-host of an enormously popular drive-time radio talk show, I thought it was a little weird that that was the guy writing from first person point of view of three smart, independent, self-assured women, but…you know, I thought, no big deal. The book would probably continue down the path of examining the privileged lives of three affluent women, and, I imagined, they’d all end up in love and happy and a little bit wiser. There would probably be something about sports in there, too, somewhere.

Then Part I of the book came to a close, and Part II picked up, and as I read on, my jaw really did drop as the book took a shocking turn. I know that’s an overused phrase. But I actually was shocked. Not only did I not expect the circumstances of the characters to change so drastically, but I did not expect this sports dude, Mike Greenberg, to write something with so much heart and intensity of feeling. I was deeply moved by the story, by the compassion of the characters, and especially by the bravery that it must have taken for Mike to write something so far out of what I imagined to be his day-to-day life of athletics and competition and stats and scores.

I read through to the end of the book and realized how the story, and the writer, had humbled me. I realized I’d made assumptions about who Mike must be as soon as I learned he was a sports guy, never imagining that he would be as heartfelt, honest, tender, and kind as I now know him to be. My gratitude for the project grew much deeper and my connection to the work much more personal, and my appreciation and affection for Mike was firmly established once I had the pleasure of speaking with him about why the project is some of his most important work so far.

I invite you to listen to the interview, below, in which Mike reveals how the characters in All You Could Ask For were brought to life, how he overcame his doubt and insecurity about such an unlikely project, and what he hopes his novel will inspire and accomplish. It was an honor to be the voice of All You Could Ask For, to speak with Mike, who is an inspiration and a gentleman, and I hope that the novel does make a difference. Today is the publication day, and I congratulate and celebrate Mike, and hope the book finds an enormous audience that is just as grateful as I to spend time with the story, and the story behind the story.

 

Joyce Carol Oates’ Black Dahlia & White Rose

I’m so pleased to have been invited to narrate stories from Joyce Carol Oates‘ collection, Black Dahlia & White Rose, for Harper Audio (to be released on 9/11/12). Oates is a prolific and powerful writer, and I can’t wait to read her stories closely. One of the wonderful things about being both a writer and a voice actor is that, whether the work is beautifully written or not, I get to constantly learn the craft of writing while preparing and narrating books. When I do get an opportunity to work with stories that are thoughtfully crafted, resonant, and evocative, my understanding of writing deepens, and I am utterly inspired. There is reverence in the act of voicing beautiful language and the universal truths that are found in great work.

I’ve only glanced at the book so far while I finish other projects, but I saw in the first story (from which the collection is named) that Oates has made strong, bold choices about structure. This is exactly what I’ve been thinking about in my own work, so it’s exciting that this book has found its way to me now (or I’ve found my way to it?).

Except for Black Dahlia & White Rose, which will be multicast with all three of our voices, the stories in the collection are being divided between Coleen Marlo, Paul Michael Garcia, and myself. I wouldn’t want to miss any part of Oates’ writing, so I’ll be reading the collection, as well as some background about the Black Dahlia murder, to prepare for the recording.

Black Dahlia & White Rose: Stories