January 2018 Update
The first crocuses are just poking their heads bravely through the mud after an incredibly wet January here in the UK. We have had snow too – just a sprinkling. Freddy the pup loved it! Some days it feels as though Spring is in the air – at other times, it’s definitely winter, but the days are lengthening which always lifts my heart a little.
December was quiet … January less so … and February is picking up nicely.
‘Christmas with the Bomb Girls’ by Rosie Styles recorded for Lamplight/Whole Story Audiobooks. A rollicking good war time romance set in a Lancashire munitions factory of Lancashire.
‘Jung’s Psychology – An Introduction’ by Freda Fordham recorded for Ukemi Audiobooks. Something of a classic this one!
I am delighted to have been chosen to narrate Fern Britton’s most recent novel, ‘Coming Home’ to be recorded early in February at White House Sound’s Studios in Leicestershire for Harper Collins UK
APAC 2018 is only four months away … my tickets are booked and I am looking forward to connecting with friends and colleagues in New York later in the year.
The Forgotten Age Book 1 - Rise of The Druids
By Wayne M Sefton
'History is not always an accurate record as it was often written by the victor of the events that led up to the here and now. But there is another history, one that is remembered by those who exist only in myth and folklore. A history from the dawn of this world when Man walked with Elves and Dwarfs, a history from the time of magic. But that was long ago and is long forgotten .. Until now.'
Quote from Carl Jung
This quote cropped up in an audiobook I am narrating - and though the lines were written by Jung (who died in 1961) so obviously not with today in mind, the words seem to me to be so relevant today that I wanted to share it.
It struck me as heartbreaking that we don't seem to have progressed far beyond this point some fifty years later. The majority of us are still blundering around in our lives looking for something that we hope will fix our feeling of being 'slightly lost'. Literature, theatre, music, the arts can enrich us and might even reveal some of the answers - so keep on reading books - and listening to them for that matter - who knows what you might discover?
Advice on Social Media? - Take it with a pinch of salt!
Got a burning question? Why not post it on Social Media - ask the advice of your peers - seems like a great idea, particularly in a 'professional group' which is full of 'professionals' one assumes.
But hang on a minute - we all know deep down that not all the 'facts' shared on Social Media are well researched, accurate or appropriate ... but when we're looking for answers it's almost as though we throw caution to the wind and believe whatever we read. It's on the internet ... therefore it must be true. One only has to look at all the hoax posts that are continually re-posted to know that the majority of people don't ever check the facts or look beyond the headlines.
Read it all and at best you'll end up confused - just a quick glance at the advice on eating a healthy diet and you'll see confusion at its most chaotic. There is just so much information that is downright misleading and inaccurate. There are folk who have little knowledge and even less experience blithely posting their two penn'orth - not deliberately to mislead - but often because they're trying to sell something and because on Facebook or Twitter everyone can be 'an expert' - though in actual fact, a lot of the information posted is just plain wrong. If you're looking for answers - don't accept what's posted on social media at face value, you need to do a more research - if someone offers advice, look at their profile, are they qualified to give an opinion, what is their experience? There are all kinds of people with all levels of experience selling their services, offering advice and support.
I have noticed that certainly in the field of VO, there are literally hundreds of people offering technical and performance related advice - and even 'coaching' - and of course some of them have a lifetime of experience, and are truly expert ... but this doesn't apply across the board. Some are more expert than others. I spotted some audiobook advice posted online the other day, by someone, who a little research revealed, had recorded three whole audiobooks ... not sure they were really qualified to offer their 'expert' advice.
You know you owe it to yourself to check out the accuracy and validity of advice online. The person posting may have have vast knowledge and experience and may truly be an expert in their particular field ... or maybe not! Buyer beware!
Voice Over Auditions
These days, almost all voice actors across all genres of voice work, record auditions remotely and upload them to clients, studios, producers, directors or clients. I know of very few voice actors (voiceovers, narrators, voice talent, recording artists, voice artists - take your pick regarding what you want to be called) who don't have access to some method of recording an audio audition to send to a prospective client more or less instantly. I know of people who have successfully landed a job from a read recorded on their mobile phone and I know voice actors whose personal recording facilities rival many a professional studio.
There are exceptions to this way of working, though not often. However, some audiobook producers and production studios in UK studios still invite actors into their studio to do a sight reading before casting. The drawback of this is obvious ... especially to those of us living outside of London; thankfully there is usually some flexibility and narrators are given the option of recording their sight reading and share it over the internet.
This ability to record remotely and send an audition or a sample read directly via the internet to a client, or agent, or online casting site or producer or publisher has fundamentally change the way we work and look for work. Because it's comparatively quick and easy to record and upload your thirty second read, the temptation is to submit for every job going - a kind of knee jerk reaction - without really thinking about whether you stand a chance of getting it, whether your read is showing you to your best advantage - whether you're playing to your strengths and whether you really WANT the job.
In my opinion ... this kind of auditioning frenzy - pile em high and hope (that simply based on the law of averages) one of those reads will result in a job, is counter-productive and even damaging to your professional reputation.
Don't audition for practice ... practice in order to audition!
A is for AUDITIONS - Face to Face Casting sessions
"You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Make it count"
I would add to Johnny's excellent advice that you need to not only be choosy about the jobs you go for, but you also need to be ready and properly prepared.
You'll save yourself a lot of heartache, stress, and feelings of rejection and doubt if you concentrate on always playing to your strengths and if don't waste your time in auditioning for jobs that don't really interest you or that you don't stand a cat in hell's chance of actually getting. Of course you want to stretch yourself, to take on new and challenging projects ... but an audition studio is not the place to try out something new or to experiment with new genres. Really it isn't!
If you follow a lot of the online advice regarding acting, voice acting, auditions, success and applying for jobs, you might get the impression that all you need to do in order to gain success and recognition is just to want it enough. There is a lot of propaganda floating around that seems to imply that all you need to do in order to succeed is:
A: A firm belief that you can do it
B: To register for lots of coaching or classes
C: Record a voice reel (often 'the carrot' offered free that pulls you in and encourages you to enrol on the course) D: To work really really hard,
E: Do lots and lots of auditions and just keep on believing!
No mention of talent or even an interest in a particular job - but I digress.
I've divided this article into two sections - live face to face auditions first, then recorded auditions for voice overs.
Back to auditions . . . firstly ... live, face to face casting and auditions.
Accept & Build
""Rehearsal is not practice....it's FINDING"
The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
This is such a gentle and evocative book, beautifully written with so many memorable and well drawn characters.
This book made me realise how much we all have invested in our 'things' and how things carry so many memories of your past, your friends, your family and your life. I have hoarding tendencies myself - so have to be ruthless about what I keep and what I get rid of, but there are some things that I have lost over the years ... the gold fountain pen my husband gave me for my thirtieth birthday, the little flower bead necklace that I had as a child and which slipped down the gap between the mantelpiece and the wall in my mum's old house, lots of bits of jewellery ... nothing intrinsically valuable, but each one came with a memory.
The Keep of Lost Things is also a guardian of memories and when the owner and the lost thing are re-united as they occasionally are, then the moment is magical. A beautiful book that I will re-read ... it made me cry and laugh. One of those books I missed reading as soon as I had finished it.
An extensively researched, beautifully written historical journey of the life of short-sighted shy ten year old Anne - grand-daughter of Charles 11, daughter of the Catholic King James 11, who eventually came to the throne after succeeding William and Mary and whose reign brought to an end the Stuart dynasty. The book contains many of Anne's actual letters to her friends, her family - and most importantly to God giving us an insight into her thoughts and hidden feelings.
My only gripe is that the publishers have chosen an italicised script font for all of the letters and diary entries which is incredibly difficult to read.
Save me Twice: Based on a True Story by E.A. Dustin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In essence this book is not a novel … it is a non-fiction book based on horrific and extraordinary real life events in Germany under Hitler and the third Reich, and of how brainwashed, and how inured to the horror of slaughter and death many ordinary people in Germany became and how, almost on the turn of a coin, one person will live and another will die, or be sent to concentration camp, or will escape.
The facts are in themselves fascinating. However, because the author adds some ‘twists’ and says in the epilogue that only 95% of the book is ‘factual’ it is called ‘a novel’ but it really isn’t a work of fiction – neither is it purely fact and therein lies the problem.
It doesn’t work as a novel because it isn’t written as a novel - there are too many bald facts and not enough atmosphere or emotional or imaginative input and it doesn’t completely work as a piece of non-fiction either because I was constantly wondering which bits were true and which were imagined, or exaggerated, or just ‘embroidered’ somehow.
The subject matter is fascinating but I found the writing style rather clunky which got in the way of my connection with the story. It was a little like reading a newspaper article with added dialogue. I got no real sense of the drama, of the era, of the time and place, of the weariness and fear or of the oppressive and desperate atmosphere that must have been pervasive. Perhaps because the author has so much invested in telling her family story truthfully, she held back her emotional response and this apparent lack of empathy or involvement in the character’s emotions prevented me from feeling for them or really caring about what happened to them. They never really came to life. but were kind of ‘once removed’.
I absolutely understand why the author is wedded to the truth of the story, it is an intensely personal one telling as it does the life story of her family whom she obviously loves and cherishes. I found it interesting in a cerebral sense in that I gained knowledge about lots of things I hadn’t known before, but it didn’t engage me. I can see it being of real interest to a reader looking for a serious historical document about Germany in WWII but it didn’t really work for this reader who was expecting an historical novel, albeit one with a basis in fact.
View all my reviews
End of Year Review 2017
Despite all the horrors of 2017 political and social, professionally, 2017 was pretty good to me - and I am extremely grateful for that.
Thanks to everyone, producers, publishers, colleagues, coaches, friends - and readers of these blog pages - who helped to make 2017 so memorable.
I wish you all a productive, creative and very happy year in 2018.
New Year Resolutions
In 2018 I will . . .
I hate New Year's Resolutions. They always feel like a millstone round my neck. It's almost as if the fear of not succeeding, stops me from even starting. No matter whether its a personal NYR or a business related one, I rarely achieve the results I am hoping for - probably because I set the bar too high, or look at the end goal rather than the steps needed to get there.
The only NYR that I have ever succeeded with is stopping smoking. I kicked that habit way back. What was different about that one? How did I make that NYR work, when so many before and since have failed? .
You can find the original article from Audible.com published by Bustle HERE
An actor's technique - tip of the day
'Girls From The Local' by Rosie Archer
A is for ... Acting
Actor's Technique Tip of the Day
A is for ... Accents
WHAT IS AN ACCENT?
The term 'accent' describes the combination of pitch, stresses and rhythm of someone's everyday speech, as well as how they pronounce their vowels and consonants. Everyone has an accent. You speak with an accent even if you speak like all the people around you and even if you speak modern (or traditional) received pronunciation; defined as: “the regionally neutral, prestige accent of British English",
An accent is not, strictly speaking, the same thing as a dialect though they are often confused and it is difficult to imagine a dialect that is not associated with an accent. Strictly speaking the definition of a dialect is:
‘A dialect (or patois) is a particular form of language which is peculiar to a specific region or social group.’"
Everyone has an accent to a lesser or greater degree – no matter in what language they are speaking; French with a Parisian accent is very different from French as spoken in the Marseilles, Catalonian Spanish is different from Andalucian Spanish; The American of the Deep South is very different from the accent of the New York suburbs … and so it is the whole world over.
Even the classic neutral voice as heard in news bulletins and documentary narrations, in theatres and on radio in every country in the world, is in itself a kind of ‘accent’.
We are all judged to some degree by our accent. Some judgements are positive, others less so. Certain accents are seen as more 'authentic' than others - but surely, your voice is your voice. Or are are we all naturally bilingual?
Listen to a child playing with their friends - they will almost certainly speak differently in the playground than they will when speaking with their parents or grandparents. I did when I was a youngster - my Northern flat 'A' 'bath' and 'path' with my friends, 'bahth' and 'pahth' at home. Both are my 'authentic' voice - I am not putting on either - it just depends who I am speaking to - and because of the kind of work I do - the neutral RP voice is the one I use most, though not exclusively..
'A' is for Accuracy
Photo Credit: Paul Haynes
I've gleaned quite a lot of knowledge over the years, knowledge that might be of interest to others, especially authors, actors and voice actors. Because I read so much, for pleasure and professionally, I also occasionally write reviews of what I read - so they're here too.
My opinions are mine and my views are my own!