When Confessions of a Serial Songwriter was released last year, I admit, I checked the reviews on Amazon from time to time. Ok….I checked them every day. And there were quite a few that said things like this about the author (that would be me):
“It was like sitting down for a cup of a coffee with Shelly and hearing her tell honest stories….”
“It was like Shelly was in my living room…and we were having coffee, talking….”
"Shelly Peiken tells her stories…as though she is sitting across from you at a cafe.”
Really? I loved this. It wasn’t intentional. So even better. And I loved that readers felt so personally connected to me. Curious though, what was with all the cawfee-tawk?
These comments got me thinking. What if I were to do exactly that—read the book aloud so that anyone could put their feet up on an ottoman and be read to, or entertained while making soup, driving to work, running on the treadmill, shopping for groceries, flying across the country, taking a break from politics?
And so, as I am a girl with goals, I set about recording an audio book. But there was perhaps a more visceral reason why a project like this sparked my fire: as I get older I need new endeavors. I’m not good at getting up every day and doing the same exact thing over and over. I want to learn how to do what I have no clue about. I want to get stuck. I want to get unstuck. I want to feel like I’m moving, progressing and growing.
I guess could have done some research, watched an instructional video, found a few blogs tips on narrating an audio book but...that's not my style. I'm a lamb in a china shop. I told myself, this is a memoir about me. I'm just gonna tell the truth. I'll simply pretend I'm amongst friends and start talking!
There were more than a few learning opportunities to be sure...such as...
!- Make sure to have a BIG breakfast. Talking makes you hungry!
2- Lip balm is necessary to keep ones lips from sticking together.
3- Ensure to embark on your audio journey with an experienced engineer (Les Cooper), who arrives on time. Make him coffee. Slice him watermelon.
4- Find a passionate producer (Ronny Schiff), who you can trust. She will offer reliable perspective, tell you when you’re being too dramatic and when you’re not dramatic enough. Stock the fruit bowl with ripe bananas.
6- Best to download your manuscript onto an iPad so you can swipe the pages because turning pages makes NOISE!
7- Who would have thought of this stuff? I didn't.
8- Drink tons of water and other non-alcoholic wet things.
9- Be mindful of your f’s and p’s, or there will (was) much time spent re-recording due to pops and fizzles.
10- Make sure the kitties are not in the vocal booth when you shut the door.
11- Schedule each session for the same time of day so the tone of your voice is consistent. If chapter 3 sounds like a different girl from the girl in chapter 10, that’s not gonna fly.
12- Don’t party the night before a session for God’s sake.
13- No more martinis during the week either. Wahh!!! Alcohol dries out the vocal chords. :(
14- Avoid dining at noisy restaurants because you’ll be shouting across the table and in the morning you’ll be hoarse. (Occasionally I found myself in a louder than anticipated venue so I did a lot of smiling, nodding and holding back my opinion. Holding back my opinion is very hard for me to do.)
15- Oh and also, stop interrupting. (This one—also not so easy.)
16- Turn off the A/C. If it’s 110 degrees, aim the car vent at your passenger. If they care about you they will understand. (Actually, they’ll probably appreciate it, if it’s 110.)
17- Invest in an inexpensive facial steamer and use it a few times a day. Breath in that moist heat! Good for your skin too!
18- Make sure to leave 2 seconds in between each chapter otherwise your upload service will take 5 weeks to review your book and then they'll send it back for adjustments, at which point you'll have to re-submit and wait that much longer.
19- Get ready to revisit some painful memories. The highs and lows, the falling the rising and falling again and rising again. Prepare to reconnect with the reason you wrote your book in the first place. The business has changed. You felt lost. You got found. It took a lot of time and it was a lot of work. But you'll realize it was worth it.
I have gobs of appreciation for my Facebook community and all their support. Especially for whoever left this review: "CONFESSIONS OF A SERIAL SONGWRITER is the perfect piece of hope that will give you the reason to pick yourself up, brush off the dirt of disappointment and try, try again!"
I'm still trying.
And when I read this last one: “I was truly sad when I was finished reading this book—didn't want it to be over!” my thought was: not to worry! Here's your chance to hear it all over again.
I hope you will.
Here's a sample chapter: