Taking Stock

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Gosh it has been a busy few weeks for me, and will continue like that for a little while longer as we reach the ACX deadline for submitting audiobooks so they can be available in time for Christmas. Over the past few weeks I have recorded book two in the Ministry of Curiosities series by C.J. Archer which will hopefully be coming out soon. I recorded The Passionate Queen by Jovee Winters, and I am in the middle of recording book three in Lisa Lilly’s Awakening series.

Unfortunately, due to my busyness I haven’t been able to audition or market much, and because of that, combined with having a title that would have taken me into January fall off my schedule, I am quickly realising that in a few weeks I am not going to have any work, and this leaves me, frankly, a little nervous.

The vast majority of my work this year has been audiobooks, which means, not only am I wondering how to book more work in general, but I’ve found myself looking for new types of work I can add to my voice over repertoire, because as we all know, income streams can dry up, including this audiobook gold rush.

It’s an uncomfortable feeling realising you got so busy that you forgot to market yourself and you’re about to be out of work. I have some big life plans in the next year or so, and they hinge on me being able to keep up my income.

One of the steps I have taken to move beyond audiobook work has been to work with a coach on preparing a new interactive demo, so I can book more video game work. So far, it’s going amazingly well. She’s tough but fair, and really made me feel comfortable that I have what it takes for this genre. It also has been taking up a lot of my time, but I think this is one seed that will blossom quite well.

Other areas I would like to work more in include elearning, museum tours… Truth is, I’m pretty open to most areas of voice over. I’m even considering actually putting together a commercial demo.

Over the next few days, I am going to be reassessing my business plan and deciding how I want to proceed now and into next year. It’s too easy to get complacent, which is probably the worst thing a freelancer can do. But, as usual, when the work dries up, I have to try and remember not to let that tiny panicky voice take over, and instead focus on learning some new skills and try to enjoy the downtime.

However, that downtime won’t be for a little while, and in the meantime, here’s a sampling from my latest work. Enjoy!

The Last Straw

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Hello!

It’s been a super busy summer for me, both personally and professionally. Omega by Lizzy Ford came out a few weeks backs.

Since then, I finished the whopping 17-hour sequel to Aranya, Shadow Dragon by Marc Secchia and I also recently wrapped Betrayal’s Price by Lisa Blackwood. Both are really fun fantasy pieces that have stretched me, either with accents, or trying to create new, more animalistic voices. With Betrayal’s Price I had to create a birdlike race, a wolflike race, even talking horses! I’ve said this before but World of Warcraft videos have really helped me with coming up with ideas for voices!

Speaking of character voices, I’m also getting ready to record the final book in the First Ordinance series, which wraps things up very nicely. I think listeners will really like how everything comes together in the end. This is the first book where I’ve recorded the series from beginning to end, and it’s been such an interesting experience to live with all these (150-ish) characters for so long!

In other news, I recently discovered these amazing straw exercises in order to help stretch your vocal cords and warm up your voice. The idea is you basically do scales and sing songs through a straw. The thinner the better. Ideally you would use a cocktail-size straw, although you may find that you need to use a bigger straw at first. It really forces you to work your abs and helps your breathing so you’re not running out of air in the middle of sentences. My goal in life is always to make my editor’s job easier! I’ll be honest, I’m still pretty bad at the straw exercises. It takes a lot of work for me to do those high notes on a scale, but I definitely sense a difference. The first time I tried with the cocktail straw, I could barely get a sound out, and now…. well, I make noises anyway. I do a lot of other vocal warm up exercises, which I’ll have to save for a later post, in the meantime I’ll leave you with this video from Ingo Titze teaching the straw exercises.

Surviving the Summer Sniffles

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Gosh, it seems as though I’m playing catch up again. Summer is halfway done, although if you’re in Seattle, it’s only just begun, it seems. Which of course means I catch a cold. Actually my hubby caught a cold, which made me extremely likely to catch his, despite my crazy obsession with Purell and antibacterial wipes. I suppose I could have annexed him to the other side of the house. But I kinda like him.

As a voice actor, being laid up with a cold causes a bit of a wrinkle in my schedule. Thankfully, this is the first cold I’ve had in a year and a half. Not bad when you consider the average person gets 2-4 colds per year. True, I talk in a box all day, but still, not a bad score…

How do I avoid a cold? Preventative measures are crucial. I neti pot every day. It helps open up my sinuses for recording. And if I’m around someone with a cold, I neti pot twice a day. I use a solution of salt and xylitol that an ENT recommended, which tends to work for my immune system most of the time. I also use Purell often when I’m out and about. And when I fly- yep, I’m the crazy person with the anti-bacterial wipes, wiping down the headrest, arms rests and all around the tray table. I’m sure I look like some kind of freak. Plus, I always have my nasal spray handy. It’s the best thing for that dry, icky airplane air that keeps circulating germs around. It’s also the best way to flush out any germs wanting to take up residence in your nasal passages.

All of which still means I could catch a cold, as this week proved. If that happens, my first line of defence is lemon water with some salt, to correct the PH in my body. Usually, that and extra neti potting gets rid of the sniffles instantly, but if the cold really hits, and my throat is sore and I’m coughing, I love me some nin jiom pei pa koa which is a Chinese herbal cough syrup. It’s very soothing and tastes a lot better than cough syrup or even throat coat. I just pour a tablespoon into a cup of hot water and record at my leisure-assuming I’m up for recording.

My latest new (to me) discovery is using a steam inhaler. I’d heard from several vocal therapists that really the only way to hydrate your vocal folds is to breathe in steam. Even so, I didn’t bother getting one until this past week. The last time I had a cold, I had a pretty bad cough for several weeks that just would not go away, even with antibiotics. It left my vocal folds stressed out, and meant it took a tremendous amount of energy just to narrate for an hour or two. Now admittedly, aside from recording the first 15 minutes for Betrayal’s Price (by Lisa Blackwood), I haven’t actually tried to see how the steam affects my vocal cords. I’m trying to rest my voice for a day or two before getting in the booth. But so far, just for congestion, the steam inhaler has worked great. Before I bought the inhaler, I honestly couldn’t see myself using steam except when I had stressed my vocal cords,which is thankfully pretty rare. Now, I can see myself using it almost every day. It’s so easy to plug in and use for 5-15 minutes in the morning while I’m checking mail, and preparing for the day.

In other news, before I got sick, I’d been busy in the booth recording back-to-back audiobooks. The first, Omega by Lizzy Ford should hopefully be released in the next couple of weeks. It was such a fun book to record. A unique world, and such fun, sharp dialogue. The other book, is still in the process of being edited. That was also a very fun book to do. It’s the sequel to Aranya, Shadow Dragon by Marc Secchia. What a fun book. But oy vey, coming back to the characters and trying to remember accents and character voices after a year and a half was interesting. There’s also a whole lot of dragon voices in this book. Which just gave me an excuse to research World of Warcraft dragon voices on You Tube, because, why not?! 🙂