Meet the Voice of The Illuminator’s Gift: Audiobook Narrator Wendy Wolfson!

Today I’m delighted to welcome a special guest: Wendy Wolfson, narrator of The Illuminator’s Gift audiobook! Wendy’s lovely and versatile voice brings such life to the cast of characters. Here she talks about superhero poses, tree climbing, her secret recipe for a limber voice, and her favorite character in The Illuminator’s GiftWelcome, Wendy!


So tell us: how long have you been narrating audiobooks?

I am relatively new to audio narration, and The Illuminator’s Gift was only the third book I have done! I have completely fallen for it though! I studied English literature at university, and have always loved words, books and reading, and now I get to do it aloud as a job! The editing takes much longer than the reading and is not quite as much fun, but I enjoy the whole process.

That’s awesome! What made you want to be an audiobook narrator in the first place?

When I was 14 my father was unwell and used to ask me to read to him. I read him lots of P.G.Wodehouse books and loved them, and my father said then that I should either work on radio or read books for the blind. It has taken me a while to get around to doing narration professionally, having been a teacher of English for a while and then having worked in the public speaking industry, but I feel like I am finally doing what I was always meant to do.

Where do you do your recording? What is some of the recording equipment and/or technology you use?

I record in my own home studio with a Yeti blackout microphone and pop filter, and my little sound booth. I use a teleprompter app on my iPad to read from, and I have my laptop outside the recording booth with the recording software on it.

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Wow, there’s a lot that goes into it. Do you have a ritual or routine you do before sitting down to record?

A cup of honey and lemon tea sets me up for the morning along with some vocal exercises to limber up my vocal chords. I sit down when I am doing my editing, but I always stand when I am recording – usually in a superhero pose! 😊

Hooray for superheroes! What do you like to do when you are not narrating audiobooks?

I love spending my free time with my husband, our little boy, our dog, and 4 cats. We live in a wood in an eco house that we built ourselves, so lots of tree climbing and den building goes on!

That sounds like fun! Where is your own lovely accent from?

I was born in London, but grew up in a rural village in the South of England. Accent? What accent? 😉

When you’re narrating an audiobook, how do you keep track of the characters’ individual voices? How do you keep them consistent?

When I read a book that is well written, I ‘see’ it more than I read it. The characters in The Illuminator’s Gift are so beautifully written that I have a complete picture of them in my mind’s eye. When they are interacting in a scene together I simply visualize them, and their voice goes with them. I know I shouldn’t have favourites….. but I love Jariel, and her energy and attitude!

I’m quite fond of Jariel too 🙂 What was your favorite scene/section to narrate from The Illuminators’ Gift?

There are so many I enjoyed! Without giving too much away……Ellie’s first dream meeting with Ishua was a favourite, as was her standing up to Nikira in the Legend’s library. I also really felt the emotion of the events on Amalpura – but I don’t want to give too much away 😊

Oh good, no spoilers! What do you like most about narrating audiobooks overall?

The books 😊

Last thing: Do you have any tips for aspiring narrators?

Do what you love. Follow your instincts and choose the books you enjoy doing – if you love what you are reading it will come across, and you will have so much fun doing it, it will barely feel like work at all!

Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us, Wendy!

Get The Illuminator’s Gift audiobook now on Audible, Amazon, or iTunes! Click to hear a free sample of Wendy’s lovely narration. (And if you’re not already a member of Audible.com, you can get the book FREE by signing up for a 1-month trial!)

Happy listening!

The Illuminator’s Gift Audiobook Release!

 The Illuminator’s Gift audiobook is online NOW!

 

Get it on Audible.com today! (It will also be available on Amazon and iTunes in a few days!)

The audiobook is officially listed at $19.95 (a pretty good deal for nearly 9 hours of addictive British narration). But here are 2 ways you might be able to get the audiobook for FREE! 

1) If you’re not already a member, you can subscribe for a free 1-month trial of Audible.com. Just for trying it, you’ll get a credit you can use to download The Illuminator’s Gift audiobook for free! You won’t pay anything, you can cancel your membership anytime, and you get to keep the audiobook regardless. It’s awesome! (And in case you’re concerned, I do still get paid through this option!)

2) Do you run a blog, book review site, or YouTube channel? If so, you might be eligible for a free review copy of The Illuminator’s Gift audiobook! To apply, send me an email with a link to your site or channel and a quick description of why you think you’d make a good reviewer!

Even if neither of these options works for you, I hope you’ll still give the book a sample listen and consider downloading! It’s been a pleasure to create, and I hope that enjoyment will carry over to your family as you listen.

Now, go forth and listen! Enjoy! Share with friends! And if you’d be so kind, please leave a quick review on Audible to let others know your thoughts!

Audiobook update!

The Illuminator’s Gift comes to audiobook June 21st!!

I’m delighted to announce that recording for the audiobook of The Illuminator’s Gift is now finished! I’ve listened through the whole book, and I know you’re going to love it!!

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I’m excited about this new audiobook for three big reasons!

First, the narrator, Wendy Wolfson, is AWESOME! She has an amazing British accent and brings lots of dramatic flair to the characters’ voices. She’ll be stopping by this blog for an interview next week and sharing her story of becoming an audiobook narrator, so stay tuned!

Second, audiobooks are a great family memory for me, and I’m glad to get to share that experience with you! I remember long road trips, the back seat uncharacteristically quiet as my brother and I got sucked into the magical world of the story we were listening to (on cassette tape, of course). I’m happy that The Illuminator’s Gift will now be roadtrip-ready for your family (and hopefully bring you some peace and quiet from the back seat)!

Third, this book has been a longtime dream of mine because Ellie, the heroine of The Illuminator’s Gift, is dyslexic. She loves stories and learning, but feels like she’s not smart because she has difficulty reading. I’ve talked with so many students who have various print disabilities, including dyslexia and blindness, and I’m SO thrilled that at last, there’s an alternative format of The Illuminator’s Gift available. I believe strongly that visual difficulties shouldn’t keep anyone from enjoying a good story. If that describes you or someone in your family, I am hopeful that this audiobook is everything you’ve been waiting for!

So when can you get started listening?

Release day is June 21st  (the first day of summer)!! So whatever you have planned, Ellie and her friends from the Legend can go with you! If you want to get notified as soon as it’s available, subscribe to my author e-mail newsletter(No spam, just occasional book release updates!)

While you wait…want to hear a teaser clip of the audiobook???

Stay tuned! Release day is almost here!!

Coming soon: The Illuminator’s Gift audiobook!

One of the most common questions I hear at book events is: “Is The Illuminator’s Gift available as an audiobook?”

I’m delighted to announce that the answer will soon be:

YES!

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For the first time this summer, you can follow the story of The Illuminator’s Gift in a whole new way: through your favorite set of headphones! (And I can’t wait for you to meet my incredible British narrator!)

Stay tuned for more details!

Also: have you already marked your calendar for the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival? I’ll be there on Saturday, April 28th, with all four Voyages of the Legend books, plus free bookmarks and hand painting! Hope to see you there!

When Not in the Writing Cave…

(Before you read this post, you should go grab your sale e-book of The Illuminator’s Test! It’s on sale July 21-23, with the lowest prices at the beginning of the weekend–just 99 cents!)

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, because I’ve been in the writing cave, working hard to get BOOK 4 of The Voyages of the Legend ready for you to read this fall! Title reveal coming soon…

But when I’m not in the writing cave, sometimes I get outside and talk to people 😉 Here’s an update on some fun, bookish events I’ve been up to lately!

My booth at the Bay Area Book Festival (Berkeley, CA). The best part was seeing readers I’d met last year who came back for more! I’m already looking forward to next year 🙂

A school visit to an amazing classroom. I can’t even believe the ideas these brilliant and creative 5th graders came up with during our workshop on “Creating a Story”!

In June, the Recycle Bookstore Book Club read The Illuminator’s Gift, then invited me to join their conversation! Such fun talking books with people who like to read them!

I was thrilled and honored that The Illuminator’s Gift was named a Finalist for the Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition and a Semifinalist for the BookLife Prize in Fiction. I did an interview for Shelf Unbound, which you can read here. BookLife gave the book a score of 8.75/10 and described the story as “…dramatic, steadily building adventures set in a vividly imagined world.” Yay!

I joined author Jody Lee Mott on his Dream Gardens podcast to talk about one of my favorite, favorite books: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Kate DiCamillo is one of my writing heroes, and it was really fun to articulate just what I admire about her writing! Listen in to hear our conversation.

Video is probably my least favorite publicity medium (I’m always more comfortable behind than in front of a camera) but I’m working on it! I now have a YouTube presence, thanks to Alida Winternheimer and Kathryn Arnold of the Story Works Round Table. We had a fun video chat about the characteristics of middle-grade fantasy, with a second episode releasing in the future.

Phew! That was a lot! Time to get back to the writing cave now. But if you run a classroom, book group, podcast, or other literary event, I’d love to do a workshop or Q&A with you! Click on my Contact page to get in touch!

Indie Reading Fest

I like to read. (Oh yeah, just a little bit. I’m a maniac out of control on this one.) I’m keeping count of how many books I’ve read this year, and I might actually blog about that later on. But especially as the weather gets colder and the nights get longer, reading is my favorite thing to do. And I’ve had the privilege of reading some really great indie books over the last year or so. So with winter and the sometimes-overwhelming holidays zooming up, I thought I’d share my top indie picks to keep you reading happily. Especially because Black Friday weekend=deals on books. And most of these e-books cost less than $3 (some are even free). So yeah. Check out these awesome indie books that bring new and different flavors to the reading world. You’re welcome.

Side note: many of these authors have actually been so gracious as to stop by for an interview on this blog! You can find them by typing each name into the blog search bar!

Dreamwalker series by Angela Wallace (fantasy)

Lady of Devices series by Shelley Adina (steampunk, oh yeah! I’m on book 10 of the series.)

Masque by W.R. Gingell (fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast)

Mourning Cloak series by Rabia Gale (fantasy)

The Rummy Club by Anoop Ahuja Judge (contemporary)

The Stream by A.R. Silverberry (fantasy)

Sunbolt series by Intisar Khanani (fantasy with an awesome Middle Eastern flavor)

Wish series by Grier Cooper (contemporary)

And…

Oh hey, The Illuminator Rising ebook will be 99 cents from Black Friday through Cyber Monday! And if you haven’t yet started the Voyages of the Legend series…

 Oh guess what, Book 1 will be 99 cents all weekend too! 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving, and happy reading!

Good Books & Good Friends: The Bay Area Kids’ Book Fair

Woohoo! The 2nd edition of The Illuminator’s Gift is now live on Amazon! The old cover may still appear on the Amazon preview, but if you order the paperback or e-book now, you’ll get the beautiful 2nd-edition cover as well as all the new features inside, including a new map and classroom-ready discussion questions and project ideas. Yay!

In other news, last Saturday I had a booth at the Bay Area Kids’ Book Fair in Sunnyvale, CA. In one action-packed day, lots of things happened.

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First of all, my mom and I set up this snazzy booth in less than 45 minutes! Yay us!

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My wonderful teacher friends Jordan and Annie stopped by to hang out and see what I really do in my secret author life. Thanks for coming, guys!

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I also got to meet this amazing young lady. She couldn’t wait for her class to finish reading The Illuminator’s Gift and The Illuminator’s Test, so she got her own copies (promising, of course, not to spoil the endings for her class). After finishing the books, she drew this incredible illumination!

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Isn’t she talented? She gave me the drawing, which is now proudly displayed in my office.

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Speaking of talented artists, my mom did hand painting with designs from The Voyages of the Legend. All day long, kids begged her for vines of roses, compasses, and shiny double-colored lightning bolts. She’s the best.
And because I can’t ever leave a book event without buying a book, I met Aaron Safronoff and his team at Neoglyphic Entertainment and bought Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall. It’s a fascinating young adult novel with both black-and-white illustrations and full-spread, full-color illustrations–almost like a hybrid novel/graphic novel. Neoglyphic has spun it off into a video game as well. I’m always really interested in cross-genre projects, so it piqued my interest. Technically the book doesn’t release until April 27th, so I got an early AND signed copy! Next week you can find it on Amazon

So many lovely people and lovely books, all in one short day. And now, because I have used up all my introvert superpowers for the moment, I shall be in hiding for the next few days…getting Book 3 ready for you to read, of course!

Cover reveal!!

Dun dun DUN!

To celebrate the release of Book 3, coming June 2016, Books 1 and 2 are getting a makeover!

These new editions include beautiful new covers, a new map, and discussion questions and project ideas perfect for classrooms, homeschooling, and book clubs.

So without further ado, I reveal the new cover for The Illuminator’s Gift!!!

Final ebook cover, BN, smallest

Eee! This cover totally takes my breath away. It’s the work of the immensely talented Jenny Zemanek at Seedlings Design Studio. She worked with me long and hard, bringing to life the flying ship Legend and the magical feel of this book series. I couldn’t be more dazzled.

And while we’re looking at pretty things, here is the new map of Aletheia, designed by Brian Garabrant of Brian Garabrant Illustration. I love the way he made my flying islands fly!

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These fabulous new editions (print and e-book) will be available on Amazon.com starting next Monday, April 18th (assuming I don’t get eaten by the Technical Difficulties Monster). They will also appear in bookstores shortly thereafter. You can get a signed copy at one of my upcoming events, including Children’s Book Week at Village House of Books or the Bay Area Book Festival in June. (If you’re looking to snag a first-edition copy, the Bay Area Kids’ Book Fair this Saturday, April 16, is your last chance!)

I hope you love the new look as much as I do!

We Interrupt This Program To Announce…

I am not dead. That is today’s announcement.

Actually, today’s announcement is (possibly) even better than that.

The reason for the last few months of blog silence is…(drumroll, please)…

Book 3 is almost done!!!

In fact, this announcement is being made in a quick escape from the writing cave. Then I’m back to moving paragraphs, analyzing character motivations, and wondering how on earth I got so many prepositional phrases into that one random sentence. And how on earth to get them out again.

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Yes, those are peanut butter cups in the corner.

But all YOU need to do is get excited for Book 3 of The Voyages of the Legend, coming early summer 2016!!! 

This will be second-to-last volume in a projected series of 4 books. Writing it has been a journey, but I hope you’re really going to love this new story.

To celebrate the release of this book, I’m also excited to announce that Books 1 and 2 are getting a new look! These second editions will feature exciting new covers, an awesome new map, and even some bonus features, like discussion guides for easy use in classrooms or book clubs. The first editions will be retired when the second editions go live (hopefully near the end of this month), so if you want a first-edition copy, don’t wait! You can find one in select Bay Area bookstores or on Amazon.com.

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Wondering where to get your books signed this spring? You’ll find me at the Bay Area Kids’ Book Fair (Silicon Valley edition) on April 16 and the Bay Area Book Festival on June 4-5: both of which are amazing events and free to the public. Keep an eye on my News and Events page for even more upcoming fun. There are also still a few more months left in the school year, so if you’re a public, private, or homeschool co-op teacher interested in an author visit, send me an email!

And now…back to the writing cave.

Good, Not Perfect

Two years ago today, something little short of miraculous happened.

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Photo credit: Jim Hillmann

I witnessed the launch of my first published novel.

It wasn’t the first book I’d ever written. I started my first novel when I was fifteen and labored over it lovingly all through high school and part of college. Then one day, I knew I’d outgrown it. It was crushing to realize that it wasn’t my magnum opus, and that it wasn’t going to be published. I lovingly, sadly filed it away in the proverbial drawer. And I started work on a new book. That one ended up in the drawer too. And the next one.

And then came the book that would become The Illuminator’s Gift. Five years of writing and rewriting–by the shores of an English lake, in the middle of the night, in bed with whooping cough, in fingerless gloves on bitterly cold mornings. A book whose first draft was 100,000 words long. A book that went through at least three titles and about thirty secondary characters, half of whom never made it into the final. A book whose story I didn’t know until I finished it. In some ways, it came to me like a gift.

As I was getting close to finishing, I held long debates with myself over whether this was The Book That Ought To Be Published. I studied literature and writing in college, and I knew enough to see that this was not a perfect book. Should it end up in the drawer with all the other defunct novels? Should I wait to publish until I wrote Something Perfect?

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Photo credit: Jim Hillmann

Well, I decided to go for it. Because I knew that this book had come to me like a gift, and a gift is meant for sharing. I also had the sneaking suspicion that if I chickened out on this book and hid it away out of a sense of fear and rampant perfectionism, I might never work up the nerve to publish anything. After all, when am I really going to write Something Perfect? When is anybody? (Okay, Tolkien excepted.)

And there’s a time to let go of Something Perfect and go forward with Something Good.

This was it.

Not that I don’t still sometimes wonder why on earth I decided to share this imperfect book with the world. (Especially the first time someone found a typo in the book.)

But when it comes down to it, I’m awfully glad I did.

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Photo credit: Jim Hillmann

Because it started me on a path of saying yes to projects that are Good-Not-Perfect. Stuff like taking a solo roadtrip to a monastery (and nervously checking my tire pressure approximately 954 times). Like signing up to take graduate-level seminary classes. Like speaking in front of 200 fourth-graders. Like writing, editing, and publishing a second book within a year of the first (and writing a third, due out next year).

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Photo credit: Jim Hillmann

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” And as one Good-Not-Perfect project–writing, relationships, teaching–leads to another, this paradigm is shaping my life. With practice, I’m becoming better able to accept what is good in life, even if it’s not perfect. And for this life I am most deeply grateful.

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Photo credit: Jim Hillmann

What are some of the good-not-perfect things in your life?