Shelly Hickman

Ramblings and Whatnot

Adventures in Audiobooks

​Holy crap! Was my last post really in August of ’16? I’m embarrassed that I actually have a page on my website dedicated to blogging. Eeeek!
I am excited to share that I have some new projects coming up on the horizon. Not writing projects, but stuff I can put my creative energies into, nonetheless. I’ve been working with an actress on the audio version of Vegas to Varanasi, which is very close to being complete. I am so psyched!


Jazmine Ramay, the lovely actress who has been narrating for me, has been such a pleasure to work with. Thank God she has the patience of a saint because this whole thing has definitely been a learning experience for me. Translating a story from words on a page to audio is tricky to say the least, especially when two people are involved and the expression of words is always open to interpretation. I reiterate – Jazmine has the patience of a saint! Prepare yourself for my pimping of the audio version once released because she has done an amazing job, and I truly believe you will love it.

The whole experience has inspired me to try my hand at the narration for my first book, Believe. Normally I wouldn’t tackle such a project, given that I am hugely ignorant of all the intricacies of sound engineering and do not possess the skills to create a variety of character voices, as Jazmine does. But because Believe is such a personal story, and for the most part has two characters throughout, I thought I’d give it a shot. Final sound editing will most definitely be hired out.​

Don’t laugh at me, but I’ve set up my little recording studio in my walk-in closet, and yeah, it gets a bit stuffy and warm in there. But after sending a couple of chapters to the sound engineer, he assures me the quality is sufficient for him to do his magic and make it meet Audible’s standards. When recording in a home “studio”, the following are some issues I’ve run into so far.
​The dog. My dog is a very nervous, clingy type. If I lock her out back, or even outside my bedroom while trying to record, she is likely to whine annoyingly. Obviously not helpful. Thankfully, she’s pretty good about just lying quietly somewhere in the bedroom while recording. However, there are times when she paces back and forth down the laminate hallway floors, resulting in the click, click, click of her toenails. I’ve already had to pause on numerous occasions to wait out the toenail intrusions.
​Gravel voice. You never really notice the quality of your voice until you are forced to listen to it ad nauseam. I was shocked to discover how gravelly my voice can get. I never really thought of my voice that way, but surprise, surprise! After having the pleasure of meeting with Jazmine recently, she advised me to make sure to give the voice a rest every so often. Don’t try to record too much in one sitting. Apparently, apple juice can also help with this predicament. The only thing that made me feel better about this was listening to Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist, because she had a pretty gravelly voice too. I’m no Carrie Fisher, but listening to her made me less self-conscious about my own voice.
Plain old tongue tied-ness. When editing audio, there are plenty of times when I hear myself mutter, “Oh. My. God” in frustration because I cannot seem to deliver the simplest of sentences. And if they’re not simple? Lord help me! I came to regret including the word vehemently in one of my sentences. Have you ever tried to pronounce vehemently like it’s part of your usual speech? That word alone resulted in five takes.
I’m sure Jazmine would be like, “Puh-lease! Try pronouncing the Indian names you included in Vegas to Varanasi, like Dashashwamedh and Manikarnika. Then we’ll talk.” Point taken.
Those are only a few of the issues I’ve encountered so far and I’m sure there will be more, so I have massive respect for those who have mastered this artform. Don’t even get me started on breath sounds or explosive pronunciation of p’s. Jazmine gave me the tip of putting two fingers in front of my lips whenever saying a word with p’s. I normally consider myself a pretty decent multi-tasker, but doubt I’ll be able to pull that one off.

All that being said, I now have a better appreciation for all that an audiobook entails and why they’re so bloody expensive. And given that I’m beyond sick of the music playlists I listen to while in my car – and on the rare occasions I make it to the gym – audiobooks are becoming a welcome change of scenery.

3 responses to “Adventures in Audiobooks”

  1. Good for you! I can’t wait to listen.


    1. Shelly Hickman Avatar
      Shelly Hickman

      Thank you, Corie! I’m sure I will be disgusted with my voice by the time it’s finished. It’s a good thing it’s a short book. Haha!


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About Me

Las Vegas native, Computer Science teacher, and writer (when the mood strikes). Author of five novels – mostly romantic comedies – available on Amazon and Audible.


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