Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

2013: The Year That Was

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Yes, it’s February, but I wanted to take a moment and look back at 2013. What a year! I thought I’d take a moment (or several) to look back on 2013, pause and reflect on my first year as a full-time voice talent.

Setting the Stage

Before January 1, 2013 I was a software developer in my “real life”. I was really good at it and even a year after leaving that behind I get daily emails and calls from recruiters, as the skills I built up in that field were not the most common. Voice acting was my passion, but it was something I did on the side, in the evenings and on the weekends. I’d been doing it for a couple of years, and had several audiobooks to my credit, as well as a few small gigs here and there for commercials, corporate narrations and the like. I really wanted to make the jump to full-time but never really had the right confluence of circumstances, until the end of 2012.

In December of 2012, I was incredibly fortunate to be approached by Tantor Audio to do a couple of audiobooks. It was a serendipitous moment, as I had been contemplating how I could pull off such a move for some time. My wife has complications from a stroke and requires some assistance in her day-to-day life, and although I’d left my job at Microsoft for one closer to home (the commute was murderous) to give her that assistance, it was becoming clear that the best solution for us would be for me to be able to work out of the house.

My career in software was coming to a close, and a new one was opening up.

Starting Anew

Of course, I was aware that changing careers in such a dramatic fashion at age 43 was going to be a challenge. I was leaving two decades of skills and experience behind to become an actor, for cryin’ out loud. Who does that? And on top of that I was going into audiobook narration, not just VO.

It was a crazy choice, but it was the right one ultimately. I ventured into a new world of running my own business and all that comes with it, but I was very lucky to have a lot of great people to rely on for their assistance and advice. I can tell you that it was simultaneously the most frustrating, stressful and exciting year of my life. I’m glad I did it, but I’m glad it’s over, and I’m looking forward to 2014 with great anticipation.

The Year in Review

In 2013, I recorded thirty audiobooks- you can find them on Audible. Several of them are in post-production, but I’m counting them because the recording was done in 2013. I feel like that was a pretty good number for a year’s work by a new narrator- I don’t have any statistics on how many books most narrators do when starting out, but I’m pretty sure that thirty is a solid outing.

For 2014, my goal is sixty. During the middle of 2013 there was a bit of a slump where I had few books to work on, and I’ve streamlined my production processes to the point where I can produce about twice as much audio per day as I did at the beginning of the year. New tools and software have helped out there too. Between all of these things I would be comfortable saying I could get to that goal (although when I consider it, I should perhaps frame it in terms of time instead of number of titles because books vary in length so wildly).

For now, sixty is a good target, taking the assumption that most will be of similar length to what I’ve done previously. We’ll see how I do by the end of 2014!

The Highlights

This year has had some truly amazing experiences associated with it for me.

First on the list is being featured on the Audiobook Creation Exchange Blog as a finalist for Guy Kawasaki’s book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur (I did a couple of blog entries on it). While I didn’t get the job, my audition landed me in a small group of finalists, who were all featured on the ACX blog. What an incredible honor that was!

I was also fortunate to be able to attend the Audio Publisher’s Association conference in New York during 2013. That was an amazing experience and one I will not soon forget. It was incredible to be able to meet and talk with so many top-flight narrators and producers in one place. Not to mention being in New York and able to play tourist a little!

A few of the books I narrated this year stand out as projects I’m extremely proud of. Here’s a short list of some of my favorites from 2013.

  • Black Hearts: One Platoon’s Descent Into Madness in Iraq’s Triangle of Death, by Jim Frederick (Link). This was the first book I narrated in what would become one of my specialties- military history. It was quite a challenge for me in some ways, because in my time in the military, I served in a unit almost identical to the one chronicled in the book, and it brought up a lot of memories. I’m grateful to the wonderful people at Tantor Audio for choosing me to narrate this important book.
  • Thunder Below!: The USS Barb Revolutionizes Submarine Warfare in World War II, by Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey (Link). Another military history book, this is one of my best-reviewed and selling titles. I had a lot of fun recording this one. I mean, a grown man standing in a room making dive klaxon sounds and shouting “CLEAR THE BRIDGE! BATTLE STATIONS TORPEDOES!” and “DIVE! DIVE!”, and so forth- it was like being in a movie. I felt like a kid, but the story was true!
  • 1940: FDR, Willikie, Lindbergh, Hitler- The Election Amid the Storm, by Susan Dunn (Link). Another history title, this one was a remarkable foray into a part of US history I wasn’t very familiar with- the turmoil in the country in the late 1930s to 1940, culminating in the last election before the Pearl Harbor attack. Many people are familiar with what happened after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, but not as many (myself included) knew what went on before that time, and 1940 was quite a watershed year. This was a really wonderful book to be able to narrate.

2014 Is Looking Good!

Although we’re into February already, 2014 is shaping up to be a great year for me, and I’m incredibly excited to see what happens this year. My goals include expanding the number of publishers I work with and doing at least sixty books this year, up from 2013′s thirty books.

Here’s to 2014!

Great review of NONE BRAVER in Audiofile Magazine

Friday, October 11th, 2013

I’m a member of the Audio Publisher’s Association, which is the industry trade group for audiobook publishers, narrators, engineers and others in the business. Part of the dues covers a subscription to Audiofile Magazine, which is the premiere audiobook industry publication.

I picked up my copy yesterday at the Post Office and was very happy to find that a review of one of the books I narrated was in it! It was really odd and quite cool to see my name in print like that.

51HyUPIN2HL._SS500_[1]I recorded None Braver by Michael Hirsh for Tantor Audio earlier this year. It’s a deep dive into the world of the US Air Force Pararescuemen, or “PJs” as they are usually called. Their job is to be provide battlefield medical support in some of the harshest conditions imaginable. They are truly an incredible group. I was once a paratrooper myself, which is something I’ve always been proud of, but I always knew about the Rangers, the Green Berets, the SEALs, and so forth. Many people looked up to us, but we looked up to them.

I didn’t even know the PJs existed until I had the opportunity to read None Braver, and I was amazed at just how tough these guys are. They have a qualification course harder than just about any other special forces training in the world, lasts longer and graduates fewer. They truly are deserving of the title “None Braver”.

You can find the review on the Audiofile Magazine website here.

An excerpt: “Narrator Corey Snow does an admirable job navigating the listener through the technical details and military jargon. He captures the complexity of the PJs’ skills, equipment, training, and missions without overdramatizing the material.” 

Love it! Reviews are good for you, even when they’re not good reviews (because you learn what you’re doing wrong), but I’ll freely admit the positive ones feel better! :)

Get a copy of None Braver from Tantor Audio, or from Audible.com! You can also hear a sample of it in my audiobook demo reel on the homepage of my site.

I was featured on ACX today

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

It’s hard to put into words how cool this is. The Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) recently held auditions for Guy Kawasaki’s new book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepeneur and I was one of those who auditioned.

As it turned out, I did not get the project; that went to Lloyd Sherr- the voice of Modern Marvels on the History Channel and several animated series. However, I was one of the six finalists, out of hundreds of auditions. That alone is an achievement, because I was in a very large pool with some absolutely stellar narrators. I personally know many of the people who auditioned, and have always been in awe of their talents. To make it to the finalists against that field is something I won’t lie about being proud of.

Go check out the article on ACX! I hope you enjoy reading it.

 

THUNDER BELOW by Eugene Fluckey now available!

Monday, August 12th, 2013

51FVfd2yPzL._SL300_[1]My latest audiobook project, Thunder Below! by Eugene B. Fluckey, is now available for sale via your favorite audiobook outlets.

This book tells the incredible story of the submarine USS Barb in World War II, and is not to be missed if you’re a fan of history, military, submarines or action.

You can order it from Tantor Audio or Audible. Go get your copy- it’s well worth it.

New Book- Poachers Were My Prey!

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

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I received notice today that my new audiobook Poachers Were My Prey by R.T. Stewart has gone live on Audible.

The book is the autobiographical account of nearly two decades of undercover wildlife law enforcement work by Stewart as a wildlife officer in Ohio. It recounts many of his biggest undercover operations, and goes into deep detail about the people, situations and temptations he encountered. I had no idea before reading this book that undercover wildlife law enforcement was so dangerous!

This was a lot of fun to read, and I learned a lot. It’s a thrilling book and if you listen to it I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a great story.

ACX wants to feature me on their blog!

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

A few weeks ago, the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) put out a call for auditions for Guy Kawasaki’s book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepeneur.

It was all over the media for a bit, even on sites like NASDAQ. Needless to say, it got a lot of attention and a ton of narrators threw their hat in the ring, including me.

A few hours ago I got an email saying that I was sadly not chosen to be the narrator for APE. I will admit I had high hopes for that one, but I knew it was a very unlikely prospect, given both the size of the talent pool and the caliber of the narrators I’d be going up against. There’s some SERIOUS talent out there and I know a lot of them went for this one.

A little while after the first email, I got a second one. This one was from Scott Jacobi at Audible, with incredible news: While I hadn’t been selected, I had been one of six finalists. Out of the entire pool of more than 350 auditions- and I’m not sure if that number is the total or just the ones decent enough to be given serious consideration- I was one of just six who made it to the final cut.

While it’s true that almost doesn’t pay bills, it’s also true that knowing I was good enough to be considered with the top-flight talent that must have been in that pool with me is pretty cool.

As if that weren’t enough good news, Scott went on to tell me that they want to feature me on the ACX Blog next week! I’ve got a bunch of questions to answer and some background to provide, and I’ll be showcased on the ACX site!

To say I’m excited would be an understatement. I’m very grateful to Audible and ACX for the extremely kind gesture.

Look for me to be featured on the ACX blog in detail sometime next week! I’ll be mentioning it here and on my Twitter feed (@vox_man), so watch for it!

I am now an Audible Approved Producer on ACX!

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

This morning I got an email from the folks over at the Audiobook Creation Exchange, otherwise known as ACX, informing me that I had been granted the status of an Audible Approved Producer!

To be one means that my productions have adhered to a standard of technical and production quality that is not easy to meet. It says that Audible has recognized me as being a top-notch producer of audibooks.

On a more practical level, It also means I get a nifty badge on my ACX profile: Audible Approved and can submit auditions for titles I had not been able to previously. Essentially it assures rights holders working via ACX that I am a known quantity and that they do not take a risk by hiring me as a producer. It’s a real honor to be recognized as an Audible Approved Producer, and I’m really pleased to be one!

Intersections of Life and Work

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Over the weekend I had an interesting experience. I recently completed narrating Thunder Below! by Eugene Fluckey, a Rear Admiral in the US Navy. A friend who knew I had narrated the book forwarded me an email he had received- one of those “FW:FW:FW” ones that we all get from friends and family members, you know the ones I mean…

This one was about the Barb! It described in great detail some of the exploits she undertook in WWII, focusing mostly on the fact that the Barb‘s crew “sank a train”, or more literally- blew one up by planting a scuttling charge from their own ship under the railbed and rigging a switch that would set it off when the train went over.

I’m sure glad to know that people are interested in the Barb, but it’s also just a sort of interesting thing- life and work kind of intersecting in strange ways. It also reminded me of how entertained I was when narrating Thunder Below! – the image of the Barb coming into port with her battle flag flying and the people on shore seeing a train on it- that must have been a head-check moment!

It’s just another reminder of why I’m so privileged to do this for a living. I get to give life to these amazing stories. It’s humbling.

Thunder Below is being released in audiobook format on August 12th from Tantor Audio. You can preorder it on Tantor.com or enter to win one of five free copies on GoodReads.

Audiobook Giveaway: Thunder Below! by Eugene Fluckey

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

I’m super-pleased to announce that Tantor Audio has agreed to give away five MP3-CD editions of Thunder Below!, an audiobook I narrated recentlyThunder Below! is a riveting account of the exploits of the USS Barb, a submarine in WWII that had one of the most remarkable battle records in WWII, having sunk the most tonnage, conducting a land operation on the Japanese home islands (the only one!), and defining new doctrines of submarine warfare that are still in use today.

This book was a real pleasure to read, but also one of the most challenging I’ve done. You’ll hear everything from dry descriptions of inspections and loading of cargo to me shouting things like “DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!” and “LEFT FULL RUDDER! ALL AHEAD FLANK!” and even making dive klaxon noise (AA-OOO-GA!). The book is written in the first person and while technically a memoir often feels more like a thriller with its “you’re right there” dialog and writing.

Thunder Below! is scheduled to be published August 12, but we’re running a giveaway on GoodReads until then! So if you want your own copy, head over to GoodReads and sign up for the drawing!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Thunder Below! by Eugene F. Fluckey

Thunder Below!

by Eugene F. Fluckey

Giveaway ends August 12, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

New Audiobook- Thunder Below! by Eugene B. Fluckey

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

ThunderBelowI am super-excited about a new book I was just tapped to narrate by Tantor Audio. It’s called Thunder Below! by US Navy Rear Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey.

I’ve been privileged to find something of a niche in the audiobook world- military history. Over a quarter of my published books fall into that genre, starting with Valor in Vietnam, continuing through Black HeartsThe Guerrilla Factory and None Braver, I’ve really enjoyed reading and narrating these books, because they tell such incredible stories of the deeply human experience that is warfare- the heroism and the tragedy alike. I literally wept while reading Black Hearts at times, and had equally strong reactions to every one of the stories I’ve been asked to tell.

As a former soldier and a combat veteran myself, it’s both an honor and maybe even a bit of a duty to tell these stories, and to do them the justice they really deserve.

But when I got the email about this one- wow! To say I was stoked would be doing a disservice to the word. I have been fascinated with submarine warfare in WWII for many years. I blame my then girlfriend (now wife) Robin, who only a few weeks after I met her, figuratively dragged me to see “Das Boot” at the local cinema in 1995 (she had a bit of a thing for Jürgen Prochnow). It was the really long cut and had an actual intermission. I went, prepared to be bored out of my skull.

Boy, was I wrong. After seeing that film I began devouring everything I could about submarine warfare in that era. From the German U-Boats to the American Gato, Balao and Tench class subs, I was fascinated. I was lucky that Robin had a pretty sizable collection of books on the topic already.

Rear Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey

Thunder Below! is the story of the USS Barb (SS-220), a Gato-class submarine in WWII. It was commanded by Eugene B. Fluckey and has one of the most  amazing service records of any submarine that served in World War II. Among the things Barb accomplished while Fluckey was in command:

  • Sank a large number of Japanese cargo ships and support vessels.
  • Launched torpedoes into a group of 30+ enemy vessels at anchor in water nine meters (about 30 feet) deep, getting 8 direct hits on ammunition transports and doing massive secondary damage, then ran at 150% engines (setting a speed record of 44 km/h) for a full hour through uncharted, rock-strewn and mined waters to escape. Unharmed.
  • Was the first submarine to use rockets successfully against enemy targets.
  • Pioneered whole new doctrines of submarine warfare.
  • Conducted the only land operation on the Japanese home islands during WWII, planting charges and destroying a railroad train after landing a shore party. These were sailors, trained to operate a submarine, not Marines trained for land combat.

Eugene Fluckey was awarded the Medal of Honor for Barb‘s actions during her 11th combat patrol. 

I knew a bit about Barb and Fluckey before being tapped for this book, but after doing a bit more research, I can tell I’m going to really enjoy reading this book. It brings together a number of my interests, and Fluckey has some of the most compelling stories there are to tell about WWII, and every review I’ve read says he wrote it in a very engaging and accessible style.

I will be starting narration on it in early July and I imagine it will be out by August. Once I have a publication date, I’ll update this post.