The Bone Road podcast available

The podcast of The Bone Road is available here at Podiobooks for free. It’s 27 episodes of about 30 minutes each.

Podiobooks has a new and completely revamped website, some parts of which I really like and other parts still in development. One of the things not yet functional is the ratings system, and another is the New Podcasts widget, so even though The Bone Road is very new, you won’t find it listed there. Use the link above or the search function. It’s also available on iTunes, in the podcast section.

Enjoy! I’d love some feedback (I think they have the Comments working) even if you can’t rate it aside from ‘Like’ on Facebook and Twitter.

UPDATE: They have a new row of thumbnail features, New Releases, up and running. And there is The Bone Road, front and center. Site is coming back up to full functionality really fast, thank you Evo Terra!

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE:

The New Releases on Podiobooks is working wonderfully. I’ve had over 3,000 downloads for The Bone Road since it came out. I’ve also noticed a splash effect on Matcher Rules, where the downloads are up also. And, more importantly, feedback indicates the listeners have noticed the improved quality on the recording of The Bone Road. I’m very happy with that, because all that hard work in August is paying off.

Podcast of The Bone Road completed

Although not exactly published or available yet. It turned out to be 27 half-hour episodes, and pretty much ate up the entire month of August. Recording a serial podcast, or an audiobook, isn’t something you can put down and pick up again a week later – at least I can’t. It takes energy and concentration and a certain level of rock-hard persistence to keep going. At times it seems it will never end.

However, I made it through. Right now I am so happy I only have two completed books out there, because if I was facing podcasting a huge backlist I’d probably hide under the bed.

I have some housekeeping left to do: file uploads and giving Podiobooks all the requested information, and once they have that they give me a release date and a live link. I’ll post that here and on the Order page when I have it.

 

Recording The Bone Road

I’ve started recording The Bone Road as a podcast. I estimate it will be close to 30 half hour episodes, and I’m planning on uploading it to podiobooks when complete, as I did with Matcher Rules. Reading, editing, adding sound: each episode does take a while to complete, so I’m looking at a great deal of time and energy over the next month or so.

The new microphone has definitely improved the sound quality. I’m also trying to add more expression to my narrative; several listeners have commented on this, so I’m trying to improve. I do hope the entire process goes faster than the first book and it should. The last time I had to teach myself how to record, edit, mix sound, add tags, and use at least three pieces of unfamiliar software. I think I’m over that part of the learning curve.

I am a bit worried about the new book getting shunted aside for this, but there is no way around it. I’ve promised myself to write SOMETHING on it once a day. I hope I can keep it up.

The Bone Road published!

I’m really really pleased this book is finally out there. And off my desk. I checked the dates on the initial files and I started this in 2008. True, there was a hiatus of a year and a half when it was shoved to one side, but that’s a long time for an unfinished project to hang about.

As with Matcher Rules, the amazing cover was done by Rhea Ewing. My friend Linda Reynolds did the pdf layout and book design for the paperback, and I am responsible for the e-book including the separate Kindle formatting.

In other book news, the free podcast downloads for Matcher Rules have broken through 5,000. Amazing. I will be recording Bone Road as a free podcast, although not until this summer at the earliest. My third novel, as yet untitled, is the next project up and I want to complete an outline before diving into audio recording.

 

Audio Recording Made Complex, pt. 2

All audio book podcasts have squibs of music as intro’s, and as trailers, and sometimes to be fancy, as scene breaks. I thought the hard part would be editing the music to the voice track.

No. That’s quite easy in Audacity. I cheated by leaving a 10 second gap at the beginning of each episode, a five second gap after the book narration and before the closing statement, and then another 5 seconds for the closing music. The last bit turned out to be unnecessary since the voice track and the music track don’t have to end in exactly the same place.

I thought it would difficult finding a music track to license. I googled “music, podcast, license” and stood back before I was trampled; there’re lots. I ended up at royalty-free tv, which is UK-based, and has a nice search feature. After a slight hitch with Paypal and funny foreign currency, I had an mp3 file, quite reasonably.

Import the file into Audacity, where it auto-loads as a second track under the narrative. Then delete the bits you don’t need, which turn out to be most of the track, and fade the music in and out so it doesn’t overwhelm the voice.

For some reason, no one has any idea why, Audacity has no inbuilt ability to save files as mp3. It’s odd, because that’s its reason for existence, but the first thing you do is download and install the LAME encoder, which does. You only have to do this once. Now you can export your file as an mp3. I know I mentioned this in Part 1 of this post; this is why LAME is important.

Open iTunes and drag the file in. Right-click and open Info. Follow all the podiobooks directions on labeling the various bits. Drag the file out of iTunes and make sure the file name is correct for upload to podiobooks. iTunes adds the album track number to the front of the file. Before I discovered it was simply an add to the file name I spent 2 hours one evening trying to discover what I was doing wrong.

By now, if you’ve been keeping track, the file has been in and out of Audacity and a few other programs, each time with a slight change of name. The hardest part, as a novice, is remembering where you are in the process and what file you should be working with and then creating.

So here’s a summary:

Record your voice in Audacity. (file.aup)

Edit it. (file.aup)

Export to Levelator. (file.aaip)

Import Levelator results (output.file.aaip) into Audacity.

Import mp3 music file, edit. Save in Audacity. (file.aup)

Export file as mp3.

Drop into iTunes, modify info.

Drag out of iTunes, correct file name. (PB-BookTitle-01.mp3)

It’s a lot, but everything is free except the music license, and of course your time, effort and energy.

My first podcast went live on April 10. Today is April 18. I’ve had over 3500 downloads, which is very nice even remembering most people download all 20 episodes at once. The learning curve is steep but possible, and it is worth it.

Audio Recording Made Complex, pt. 1

I’ve completed the audio recording of Matcher Rules and it will go live as a podcast of 20 episodes on April 11. I’ve been asked not to post a link until then.

In all the posts I’ve read on How To Create Your Own Podcast, someone always says “Oh, it was so easy!”

It is not. It is complex and nitpicky and requires you to learn several pieces of new software. Unless of course you are a musician who has been creating your own music for, lo, the last decade. Or an audio engineer who loves waveforms. Then, it’s easy.

Audiophiles (to use a polite term) are equipment freaks. If there is a problem it can be solved by getting the latest, greatest and more expensive microphone, headset, portable recording studio, et cetera. If you are determined to use your old headset and microphone you will have quality issues and you will be taken to task for quality issues. It is a decision between your finances and your tolerance for criticism. Everyone’s answer will be different.

The free software of choice is Audacity. It has a daunting interface for a novice but many tutorials and instruction manuals, although for some reason no ability to keyword search inside the manual. If there is I’ve never found it. As a novice, sometimes you can hear a problem but not know what it is called in audio-speak. There may be a utility that magically fixes the problem, there may not be, but unless you can find the correct terminology you may never know.

For example, I found several episodes (each 1/2 hour long) had annoying clicking sounds. I was happy to discover a utility in Audacity called ‘click removal’. After I used it I still had the clicks, but the entire episode now sounded as if I was recording in a deep, deep well. Manual editing the file, where you listen second by second to each sound and erase the tiny section of the waveform to delete them, did not work on the clicks. I ended up re-recording the episodes. I never found what had cause the problem, or what had caused it to stop, but I suspect I had the microphone too close to my mouth.

Podiobooks encourages authors to create the 1/2 hour episodes because their listeners are often commuters who listen in their cars on the way to work. I thought it seemed short, until I recorded one. Try talking non-stop for 30  minutes, no throat-clearing or loud breathing or hesitations. It is hard. Then, it takes double the time to edit the file, removing all the throat-clearing, breathing, etc. Plus general background noise: there is a handy utility called ‘Noise Removal’ that works beautifully. I left 10 seconds at the beginning for the musical intro, used that as a sample, and cleaned the entire file.

After the file is edited, I exported it out of Audacity in Apple’s .aaip format. I had to install another free utility called The Levelator, which evens out sound recordings. It creates a processed file with the same name and a different extension (output). By the way, creating multiple podcast episodes can be a file organization nightmare, since each episode goes through about six steps and a distinct file is created each time. My desktop was a confused mass of multiple files, same name, different extensions.

With the Levelator output file created, it’s time to add the music introduction. I’ll cover that in the next post.