About Oshun Rising:
Author: Jennifer Alsever
Narrator: Moira Todd
Series: Trinity Forest Series, Book 2
Publisher: Sawatch Publishing
Released: May 30, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
OSHUN has everything a young pop star could ever want—fame, fortune, and beauty to spare. But there’s something dark inside of her, rising like the tide, fighting to be heard. Something that terrifies her. Because once she lets it out, she knows there’s no going back.
EMBER is drowning. Fighting for consciousness, struggling to make sense of the strange dreams she’s been having—prophecies of murder, deception, and blackmail. But once she begins to untangle them, she realizes that they might not be dreams at all…and if she doesn’t find a way to stop what she’s seeing, more people will die.
MADDIE is barely staying afloat. How can she be expected to care about school when her best friend Ember is still missing, presumed dead? So when Ember’s brother calls and tells her about his theory about a pop star who may be involved in Ember’s disappearance, she rallies him to take a road trip to check it out.
A teenager still lives inside author Jennifer Alsever. She spent two decades as a professional journalist, contributing to such publications as Fortune Magazine, the New York Times, Inc Magazine and the Wall Street Journal, before letting her imagination run wild in 2016. The result is Ember’s story told in the three-book Trinity Forest Series, her first published fiction work.
When not absorbed in writing, Alsever enjoys a good hike, doing some yoga, hanging with her boys, some moguls on skis, a rigorous mountain bike ride or indulging in the simple pleasures of life. Her favorites: untouched snow, frozen chocolate chips, savasina on a yoga mat and yes, bowls of pan fried brussels sprouts. Jennifer is working on her upcoming novel, Psychic Monkeys, to be released in 2019.
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
- As an avid audiobook fan, I knew when I finished my trilogy that I wanted my books to be an audiobook. But finding the right voice was going to be key. I went into ACX, Audible’s back-end system for authors, and I listened to dozens of sample narrators until I found Moira Todd, an actress in Oregon. I wrote her an email and said, ‘You are Ember!’ She had a gorgeous voice, youthful with the perfect amount of snark and authenticity plus, I didn’t know it at the time, but she could sing. Working with Moira has been a dream, as she sent me samples along the way, and I ate the chapters up as we went.
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- No. While I was writing, I was conscious only of the voice on the page. I was fully engrossed in the logistics of the writing and pacing and ensuring readers could see what I saw in my mind’s eye.
- How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?
- Moira gave me periodic updates on her editing and chapters as she finished them. We collaborated, but really, Moira just nailed it with no revision requests on my part.
- Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
- I didn’t give her insight into characters– nothing more than what was on the page. I gave her some pronunciation tips when asked, places and names and some weird Egyptian words.
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
- I drew on my experiences walking around the real-life town of Leadville and the scenery of the Colorado mountains where I live, plus took nuggets of scenery from my past visits to Utah, California and L.A. I also peppered in small bits and pieces of real stories from people gathered and heard over the years. To get into the teen head, I invited a group of seniors at a local high school for pizza when I was writing the book, and I listened to them talk. I got a lot of good perspective and a few nuggets of stories from them. They were so generous with their stories and time. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. The general plot, too, is taken from real-life theories from crazy websites about the Annunaki, energy vortexes and Egyptian mysticism. I did a lot of research and drew on interviews with people who had experienced what Ember did– mainly a friend who lost her parents as a teen.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
- When I get stuck, I give myself time and space to do something else. I hike, read, ski, watch smart TV shows or I write other things. I don’t feel like I honestly can get burned from writing. I was obsessed with my story and it just flowed out of my fingers. It’s my most favorite thing, outside of my family and friends.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- I am an audiobook listener for sure. As a slow reader, I love listening to a book while I get other things done, whether it’s chores around the house, a long drive or a hike. I am very picky about the narrator of the books I consume, and the voice can make it or break it for me. I’d listened to enough YA books that had similar voices or tones I liked, and I knew Moira would be perfect for my series. She had a voice I personally could enjoy hearing for hours.
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
- Ember is a singer-song writer, and so that was a challenge for me to write lyrics to songs. Some of the lyrics had a loose tune in my head but not really. It was so fun to hear Moira take the lyrics, make a song and then sing it in the audio recording. She has a beautiful singing voice.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- I say a story is a story, heard or read. People say they don’t have time to read. So if listening is an easier way to dive into a imaginary story without sitting in front a screen, then go for it.
- In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
- Pros of a series: You have more time to develop a storyline and a character, and you can fall more deeply into that world. People can binge your books just like they can binge watch TV.
- Pros of standalone: You’re done with one and can dig into another entirely new idea next.
- Cons of a series: Some people hate series and so maybe they read one book and may grumble about having to read another two to find out all the answers. It’s harder to market the other books in the series because they’re a continuation of the story so you end up having to tout your first book over and over, when you really might be proud of the writing or the story in the second and third too.
- Cons of standalone: Sometimes, it can be hard to get everything you want in the book and it feels rushed. As a reader and an author, you’re sad to leave those characters behind and close the book to move on to the next idea.
- Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
- The genesis of my book came from a dream. I was running through a forest, but I wasn’t myself. I was someone else. I came to a gate, went inside and met three of my characters, Tre, Lilly and Zoe, and after spending time there, they whispered how I could never go home, despite the world spinning forward on the outside. When I woke up, I told my son about the dream because it was so vivid and striking to me, and he told me to turn it into a novel. So I did
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- I would tell them to write as much as possible. Because the more you do it, the easier it is. I’d also recommend showing your work to other people. It’s the scariest part of being a writer, but that’s the way you get better and actually move from being a private writer who keeps editing their own stuff over and over — to getting a real project you’re proud of out to the world. I wouldn’t have the novels I do today without outside opinions and feedback. And not everyone is going to like what you write, and that’s okay. So build up a thick skin.
- What’s next for you?
- Now that I finished the Trinity Forest Series, I plan to make Venus Shining, the final book in the series, into an audiobook. I’m also writing an entirely new YA novel, Psychic Monkeys, to be released in 2019. It’s about the teens, the Cold War, psychics and spies. I’m in love with the story so far..
Moira Todd is a Washington, DC-based actor. She originally hails from Mt. Hood, Oregon where the trees are always green, the mountain is always pointy, and the weather is usually rainy. It was there that she learned the secret arts of alpine skiing and whistling at the same time as you hum. While neither has proved useful in her theatre career, she remains hopeful. These days she spends most of her free time swimming, baking bread, and watching whale documentaries.
- How did you get into performing for audiobooks?
- I auditioned for an audiobook production company and they pointed me toward ACX, where I can be my own producer, which is really great.
- How many audiobooks have you produced?
- I’ve produced 8 now, including Playing with Fire: A #Hacker Novel by Sherry Ficklin, and Why Can’t My Life Be a Romance Novel by Melinda R. Cordell. I also have three in various stages of production.
- Why did you choose to work on Ember Burning?
- I love working on books with Female protagonists and I think Ember has a really fun voice.
- What was your favorite part of the book?
- My favorite is the end when everything really comes to a head and the suspense is at its highest.
- What was the hardest part of working on the novel?
- The hardest part is actually scheduling. I have to balance audiobooks with acting and teaching. So if I get a cold or something, and can’t record for a few days it can really mess up my production schedule.
- What’s involved in the process?
- Well is starts with reading the book. I like to read it once just as an audience and write down my thought on the story as a whole so that I can remember that experience when I’m listening to myself read one sentence over and over. I then read it again and make notes of character descriptions, words I don’t know how to pronounce, and any major tone or pacing shifts in the story. Then I’ll take a chapter or so at a time, and mark it up. This means writing in the best way to make the story clear, like which words to emphasize and when to breath. I take my marked up section into the studio and record it. Any time I mess up, I just go back and read it again. So what I’m left with is a big long recording with lost of repeated sections. I have to use editing software to delete the mess ups, and any big long breathes that sound weird, and make sure the pacing is effective. This then gets given to the author to approve, and eventually put on sale on audible.com
- How long does it take to create a chapter?
- Typically it takes me 10 hours to produce one hour of finished narration.
- What is your favorite part of being an audiobook narrator/producer?
- My family is pretty spread out, so I love being able to share audiobooks with them, and it’s like we’re back at home and I’m reading a book to everyone in the living room around the fire.
- What’s been the hardest part?
- Keeping myself on track to meet deadlines is the hardest part. Because it’s just me, I have to hold myself accountable so that I don’t end up with a week left and half the book to finish.
- What’s your favorite audiobook you’ve listen to? Why?
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy narrated by Rob Inglis. I listed to all three on a road trip across the country last year, so it just brings me back to those awesome memories.
- What is ahead/next for you? Are you working on any interesting projects? Do you have anything planned or in the works now? (Other books you might recommend?)
- Yeah, I’ve got a few projects in the works. Right now I’m recording Killing Her Softly, a romantic suspense novel by Barb Warner Deane. And in the new year I’ll begin production on the next book in Jennifer Alsever’s Trinity Forest series, Oshun Rising.
- What do you do when you’re not working on audiobooks?
- I’m in rehearsal for a show, or teaching theatre classes, or maybe going on a hike in the Potomac valley.
- What do you expect to happen in the audiobook market?
- I’m not sure. Podcasts have certainly exploded in recent years. Audiobooks seem like the perfect medium for commuting. People spend so much time in cars or trains or buses these days, why not be listening to a story at the same time.
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