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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

The "Voice Talent"

The "Voice Talent"

By Paul Semendinger

June 2024

***

NOTE - This article comes from my personal blog: www.drpaulsem.com.

***


I have been told that I have a great voice for speaking.


I am often asked to read scripture in church. I have a daily radio column on WRKC (Wilkes-Barre, PA) where I read “Word of Inspiration” for their Radio Home Visitor program. I have been doing this for decades, remotely, from New Jersey.


I also have two podcasts…


I do a lot of public speaking…


And so forth.


But, until last week, I had never done “professional work” in a professional recording studio.


I have now. It has been a blast!

***

My award-winning novel Scattering the Ashes was published by a fantastic company – Artemesia Publishing. I cannot say enough good things about Artemesia Publishing or of Geoff Habiger, the President and founder of this company. Artemesia, an independent publisher, has done more for me, as an author, than many much larger publishing houses – and even the biggest of the big – do for their authors.


A short while ago, I learned that some Artemesia titles have been made into audio books. I was hoping that Scattering the Ashes would qualify for this as well.


And it has.


My novel is being made into an audio book!


And, the best part…


I am the “voice talent” working in a professional recording studio in the heart of New York City reading my novel and working to create the audio book of this wonderful story.

***

What I am about to write will make no sense to most people.


Before embarking on this process, I had never read Scattering the Ashes. Seriously.

I wrote it, over a period of a few years. I edited it (time and again). I polished it. I rewrote parts over and over. I made corrections. I reviewed it all with a critical eye numerous times. I’ve seen those words and pages on my computer screen for hours, days, and weeks on end.


But I never read the book. I never read my own novel.


I never sat down, book in hand, and read my novel as I would have read any other book. It might be like this with all authors. I don’t know. I never asked…


It’s my novel. It’s the story I wrote. I dreamed it. I wrote it. I rewrote it. Over and over.


But I never read my novel, as a book, cover-to-cover.


Last week, I read the book in preparation of my recording sessions and now I am reading it again aloud into a microphone, in Manhattan. I am – the voice talent.


But before this… nope, I never read it.


The first thing I noticed as I read Scatting the Ashes is that it is a great book.


Now, of course I should like it, but I understand that some authors don’t like their stuff. I do. I really like this book. I enjoyed it so much. I didn’t think I would, necessarily… I thought I might be too self-critical, for example.


As part of the editing process, when an author gets his manuscript handed back to him, (or sent electronically) all marked up, with a million suggestions and corrections, he might wonder if the book is any good at all. In those times, knowng that the underlying product is good is sometimes… a surprise.


For me, for a long time, Scattering the Ashes wasn’t a story, or a novel, it was a job.


Now, years since it became a book, I can see why so many have told me that they have enjoyed it so much.


Many years removed from the writing and all the editing, I am enjoying it. I’m glad. It may sound silly for me to say this, but it is, absolutely, a really really great book – a wonderful story.


I’m so happy I wrote it.

***

Working in a professional recording studio is job. It’s not easy. None of this is easy. I keep being asked if what I am doing is fun. And it is. But it’s… work.


First, I have to commute to the big city. I have been taking the NY Waterway ferry. It takes me an hour, in heavy traffic, just to get there. Then there is the waiting for the ferry, the ride across the Hudson, and the bus ride following the ferry to get to the heart of midtown. I never commuted to New York to work. I can’t imagine how people do this day after day for years and even decades.


I love New York. I love the ferry. I love to drive.


But I already hate the commute. It’s a beast.

***

Once I get off the bus, it is fun to walk the streets of Manhattan heading to my place of employment (if only for a few days).


Before this, New York was just a place to come for fun – sighseeing or to see a play or a concert or a ballgame (though the ballpark I care most about is in the Bronx).


Right now, though, I’m not just a visitor. I belong there. I have important things to do. I’m the “voice talent.”

***

I am very fortunate to be working with a super audio engineer, Cody.


In a word, he is amazing.


In other words, he is kind, patient, understanding, funny, fun to work with, smart, able, and, in short, an absolute delight. The recording studio gave me the best of the best. I am very fortunate.


I work from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Four hours. Straight. No lunch. It’s four hours (ok, we take a few short breaks) of focused reading.


I’m mostly by myself, in a small sound-proof studio, with a microphone, a headset, and my novel in front of me on a iPad.


Cody just outside the small recording booth, gives me the word over my headset, and then I start reading.


I am told it gets exhausing doing this day after day. It hasn’t yet. It’s fun. But, not entirely. It’s challenging, exacting… it’s… work. I have to read each word, as written, perfectly.. I need to have just the right inflection. My voice needs to be the same throughout. Mistakes take more time.


Cody has to listen to all of this. I asked him a few times if he is enjoying the story. He says he is. I hope so. If not, this could be torture for him. Imagine hating the story you have to listen to (and read along with) for four hours day after day after day?!


(I’m hoping Cody is saying, “I’m working with a great reader who wrote an amazing novel. How lucky am I?!”)

***

On the first day of recording, Cody gave me a huge compliment. He said, “You must listen to a lot of audio books. You’re good at this.”


The truth is I haven’t listened to any.


If I’m going to read a book, I read the book. Maybe that’s just me. (I hope lots of people buy and listen to the audio version of Scattering the Ashes…)


I was told that I’m reading as well as the professionals. I hope that’s true.

***

Readers make mistakes as they read, but the process in a recording studio makes this all somewhat seamless. After a mistake, caught by either Cody or me, the previous good sentence I read is almost immediately played back in my ear. I then pick-up from that spot and keep moving forward.


I’ve had a few good reading streaks with no mistakes, voice breaks, or other reasons to stop and try again. I think my record is just about 18 and a half minutes, but maybe I am misremembering.


My voice is strong. It isn’t tired. Neither am I.


I have a few more days to go. After two days of recording, I am about a third of the way through my novel. I’m writing this on a Saturday. I go back to New York on Monday and Tuesday to continue. And then we’ll see where we are. I’m averaging about 42 pages a day.


For now, I’m loving the process. I’m loving the city. I’m loving looking out of the windows when I’m on the 11th floor and seeing Times Square below me. I’m in Manhattan with a purpose. It’s pretty neat!


For a few days, I’m doing a job that I once thought I might be doing for a living. There was a time I thought I’d be in radio or TV. I would still like to call the Yankees games. I’d still like to be the PA announcer at Yankee Stadium. I could thrive in those jobs!


But, for now at least, I’m giving voice to my novel. It’s been a wonderful opportunity.


It’s been an amazing experience.


I hope it’s not my last. I am far from being finished, and already I’d like to do this all again.

7 Comments


wihaj97082
4 days ago

Broadcast services rely on these talented individuals to deliver compelling and engaging audio content, from radio commercials to TV shows and video games. Their ability to convey emotion and personality through voice enhances the overall quality of the broadcast, making them an indispensable part of the media production process.

Like

Theo Owen
Theo Owen
Jul 14

I had the pleasure of interacting with Simple Mobile's customer service team and I must say, I was thoroughly impressed. The representatives were not only knowledgeable and efficient, but also incredibly friendly and patient, find customer service contacts on https://simple-mobile.pissedconsumer.com/customer-service.html . They took the time to listen to my concerns and provided me with clear and concise solutions. The overall experience was seamless and hassle-free, making me feel valued as a customer. I would highly recommend Simple Mobile to anyone looking for top-notch customer service in the telecommunications industry.

Like

Alan B.
Alan B.
Jun 25

So, now that you've read your book, what do you think of it as a reader? Does it give you a bit of a different perspective in your writing going forward?

Like
Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Jun 25
Replying to

Yes.

The next time I write fiction, especially, I will take the time to do this when the manuscript is done.

I find things I would have written differently.

But, as I noted, I do love this story!

Like

Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Jun 24

I noticed in your podcasts and your Saturday show that you have a lot of "personality" in your voice, which translates well to the audio book. In your podcasts and online shows, you sound like a "Sports Talk" type radio host, which is why this comes so natural to you.

Like
Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Jun 24
Replying to

You're welcome. You have it down, right down to the "pauses" that talk radio personalities always use. (EX: "Let's make today..................a great day!")

Like
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