Audio Intensive

I used to act in plays and musicals, took a few theater classes in college.  But then my focus turned to academic and creative writing and I moved on.

About a year ago I decided to revisit my interest with voiceover acting – the voices in radio commercials, animated movies, your car’s navigation system, and audio books.  I bought the necessary equipment for a home studio:  microphone, maximizer, mixer, and a multigate.  I had to learn what those things are and do.  For me, that was the hardest part.  Seriously, I can change the input on my television to get to my DVR and my DVDs, but I didn’t have any real understanding of how it actually worked.

Then I had to find a voiceover teacher.  And, I lucked out.  The first place I went was a complete scam and one of their ‘marks’ had written a blog post about his experience.  I contacted the blogger and he told me about Chuck McKibben.  Chuck’s bio is amazing(voiceoverisland.com), but what leaps out is that he was the personal recording engineer and audio producer for Mel Blanc.  You know, Bugs Bunny!  Daffy Duck!  Porky Pig!  All of those Looney Tunes characters.

Chuck was INCREDIBLY patient as – over the phone — we hooked the various machines together and set up the software on my laptop, but we couldn’t get a decent recording of my voice. The multigate was broken. So, my voiceover lessons stopped for about four months.

Last Wednesday I drove up to Philadelphia.  We looked at websites for audiobooks, one of my primary interests, and listened to demos.  Then I used Chuck’s studio to record two commercial practices and an excerpt of one of my own short stories, “Hand-Holding,”  published by Third Wednesday in their summer 2012 edition.  I’ve posted it on the “Voiceover” page.  Give it a listen and please tell me what you think.

Chuck gave this great speech “What’s in it for me?” about finding your character’s motivation and then making your inflections and tone convey that motivation.  It was really interesting, as a writer, to hear how an actor needs to decipher motivation based on text.  For example, the first audition take was about healthcare.  I read it out loud and tried to project a professional, neutral voice.  But, no.  That’s not the message I’m supposed to be sending.  I’m supposed to convey that the listener doesn’t need to worry because they have this health coverage, I’m supposed to be soothing and cheerful, not removed and erudite.  OOOHHHH.   And….that’s why I need a teacher.

Then, Chuck *read* the phonebook using about ten different emotions and told stories about when he’d worked with actors like Kirk Douglas and Jack Benny and Jack Palance.  Remember the guy who did the one-armed pushup at the awards, he asked?  Yes, I remember.  And then there was another great lesson about how to use breath in your acting.

I filled up six pages in my notebook as my excitement built.  This is fun!  I felt this way after my workshop at The Gettysburg Review, this finding something you’ve forgotten.  Bonus part?  A few days ago my new Multigate arrived in the mail.  I’ll turn it on at my next lesson.  One step closer to producing  audiobooks and recording commercials.

Love,

Sherri

Finishing it UP!

That’s what I say at the end of a set in my weight-lifting class.  As if, by being louder, I can make that last rep any easier.  Well, I’m saying it now in regards to the school year.

Yes, my older children finished school on Tuesday.  The two weeks before that are just nuts.  Other moms have written hilarious blogs about those two weeks of field trips and sports days and picnics and graduation slide shows.  I had to write out WHAT LUNCHES TO SEND IN on a calendar because some days the kids aren’t supposed to bring a lunch, sometimes they are supposed to just bring a drink, some days the lunches must be in a brown paper bag, and some days everything in the lunch bag must start with the letter ‘a.’  (Okay, I just made that last part up, but I wouldn’t put it past any of these end-of-the-year rulemakers)

Well, I WIN because I didn’t even have TIME to write a hilarious post.

Here’s the thing.  I was so turned around that I took the twins to THE WRONG BALLET RECITAL.  Here’s the second thing.  THEY WENT AHEAD AND DANCED IN IT.

I went rushing into preschool after the first of the month waving a check because I’d gotten the bill tucked into some other end of year papers.  I thought that they’d be kicked out of their graduation, turned away from education, but the preschool was very forgiving.

And, at the end of school, you have to find any missing library books and send in lunch i.o.u. money and end of year gifts.  Somehow I was in charge of the class gift this year and WE LOST IT.  Then we found it, but there was much blaming and running about in a disorganized way for those twenty minutes.

We made it to Evelyn’s 6-month post-chemo check up.  Her labs are looking good.

Made it to Diana and Chance’s well check-ups right after Diana’s 11th birthday.  Apparently she hasn’t had a visit since her 5th birthday.  I said, “She’s been well.”  They weren’t amused.  Anyway, the only reason I took them was for the summer camp form.  I didn’t know they were going to get shots, but I still got the stink-eye from both of them.

We finished swim school.  I was put-out because we missed lessons and their policy is not to do make-ups.  I explained that three kids missed two days which is six lessons that I paid for and I was just asking if Evelyn could also attend Sylvia’s two make-up classes (from missing when she broke her arm), but the answer was no.  So, I rocked in the rocking chairs and pouted for a bit.

I did a re-write for an online magazine and wrote a short story for a contest.

Overcome with too much responsibility, I returned Tenders and Hot Wings to the farm.  They are, according to Farmer Kathy, BFFs and hang out together while the rest of the chickens walk around and scratch at the dirt.

Then, Sunday, we dropped Diana and Chance off at camp.  We drove over to the boys’ side of camp.  There was literally a kid hanging from the rafters of the cabin.  They all had lax sticks (glad Mike thought to grab Chance’s).  There was much milling around.  Sleeping bags, still rolled up, were tossed onto bunks.  “When’s dinner?” was the predominant question.  I also heard a parent ask about showers.  I’m pretty sure the counselor hedged as he said that the boys would swim every day.

On the other side of camp, Diana’s cabin was huge.  Each of the girls had brought sheets for under the sleeping bags (I did, too).  Cute stuffed animals were perfectly arranged.  Some girls had brought rugs and slippers for beside their beds.  The bathroom and showers were inside the cabin.  The counselors were gathering the girls into a circle to play name games.  Where were they gathering? IN FRONT OF A BEAUTIFUL RIVER STONE FIREPLACE.  Obviously you do not need a fireplace in the summer, so colorful candles were artistically arranged in front.  Of course.

And….Diana and Chance were equally estatic with their cabins.

So, Evelyn and Sylvia will graduate from preschool on Thursday night.  Their gowns and caps are hanging up in the closet.  We’ll take pictures.

On Friday we will pick up Diana and Chance from camp.

And then I will flop over.  Summer will really and truly be here for the Woosleys.

Hope you are already enjoying yours!

Love,

Sherri

Baby B

I’m feeling a little sad today.  I have several writer friends who are in Gettysburg right now HAVING AN INSPIRING TIME and I’m smiley for them (and can’t wait to critique the work that will come out of this Gettysburg Review Workshop), but I’m also second-guessing whether I should have not gone to AWP and held out for this instead and whether I’ll sign up for next year and Lee won’t be teaching and May and Julie and George and Warren won’t attend….that’s me.  I second-guess myself.

There’s the stress of end-of-year multiplied by (pseudo) graduations from preschool and 5th grade and all their accoutrements.  There was the losing of the class gift by my daughter this afternoon and then, luckily, finding the gift card tucked into her soccer bag (No, she isn’t currently playing soccer.  I have no idea how it got there.)  Twins went to bed late last night and are super-cranky while Diana and Chance had a half-day and have been arguing ever since.  (Why have a half-day when there are only two days left of school.  Does anyone else wonder about this?)

I’m also worried about this “Two Sides” story.  The editors of a magazine liked it, but asked me to revise.  I don’t know whether they’ll like the revisions or if I’ve blown it.  I changed the ending, like was asked, but that meant I had to change the beginning.  There was a comment about the action not being believable so I changed it from being planned to being accidental.  So, um.  Yeah.  I changed the whole story.  Not the title.  I kept the title.  And they are going to pass on it.  I know they are.  I don’t even want to re-submit it.

And there’s another story I’m working on. I’ve known about the contest deadline (June 15th) for a couple of months.  No problem, I thought.  My subconscious is writing it in my head.  Only not so much.  ‘Cause subconscious doesn’t give dictation so well and my fingers still have to type in the morning.

So, feeling kind of glum over here in Baltimore while the remnants of a hurricane water my empty garden.  But, I’ve got a brilliant shiny story for you.  One full of strong Ethiopian sunshine.  It’s not quite over and I know prayers will be appreciated to get to the finish line.

This is the story of Baby B.

I started following Andrea and Nate’s blog while my daughter was being treated for leukemia.  There was this sadness and hope in the entries that echoed my own heart.  Frustration with waiting, trying to understand and be okay with the waiting.  Then it turned out Andrea and I were the same age.  We had been married the same number of years.  She was my pastor’s daughter.  And she believed that God had a plan, but she didn’t know if it was a plan for disappointment or joy.  And, how could I not cry over that?  How could I, waiting through Evelyn’s procedures and chemo and counting down the days until we would see if the cancer would come back, how could I not cry for this woman who wanted to be a mother?  Who had started the adoption process and was waiting…waiting…waiting and she didn’t know the countdown.  She didn’t know.

My whole church was with her on this journey.  Just like they’d been with me.  So, imagine the response to this picture.

It's a Boy

Then Grammy Long (Andrea’s mother and Baby B’s grandmother) started baking.  She made a Facebook page called “Grammy’s Cupcake Obsession” and that woman baked.  She baked and she baked.  She baked herself right into a plane ticket so she could be with her daughter when Andrea met her son.

Wanna see happiness?  Want to? Want to? Want to?

Happiness

LoveBaby Biruk and his new mommy.

The court date went GREAT.

It’s not over yet.

 

 

 

 

Follow:

http://NateandAndrealifeunexpected.blogspot.com

 

I hope this squeezed your heart super tight and made you happy.  This is real.  You can’t make it up.  God is good.

Love,

Sherri

A hedgehog, a frog, and two chicks walked into a bar…

So, what happens when you put two blonde chicks in with a misanthropic hedgehog?  I had the video camera all ready….

NOTHING

Seriously.  Not a thing.  Hufflepuff walked to the corner of his cage and showed his hiney to the new girls.  They, in return, gave his quills a couple of friendly, exploratory pecks.  Then they pooped.  Checked out his food bowl.  Looked at his water bottle.  Gave it a couple of friendly, exploratory pecks.  Then settled under his heat lamp.  So much for a super-cute video of the chicks imprinting on a hedgehog and following him around.  So much for Hufflepuff puffing up and huffing to defend his territory against the blonde interlopers.  Nope.  Plain old boring.

But, let me back up.  Perhaps you are wondering why the Woosley family currently has 1 pygmy frog, an African hedgehog, and two chickens.    It’s because my husband won’t let us get a dog.  Too much responsibility.  I can also blame Stein.  He’d just gotten baby chicks when we stayed at his house in Virgina last month.  He made them look easy to care for.  Heck, he let us hold them with their downy softy-soft fur and their funny feet.  The way the little blondies fell asleep in the palm of your hand.  The way they drink and throw their little necks back to swallow.  The perfect little nail on the end of each toe.

Back in Maryland, then, Diana’s 11th birthday was approaching.  She asked for a horse and a car.   Chickens suddenly seemed reasonable.  My friend Mrs. Kathy Peter was soooo nice.  She is loaning us two chicks.  The twins and I went to pick them up and Diana was able to have them when they were two days old.

DSC04977 DSC04980

The one on the right has a little dark spot on her head.  Her name is Hot Wings.  The girl on the left is Tenders.

Because we’re a family that needs more chaos, right?  The chicks grow fast.  In fact, while we were camping over Memorial Day, they learned all about flapping their wings and this thing called flying.  Our friend Isabel came in to feed/water them and ended up finding Tenders strolling through our family room and Hot Wings pooping it up in my closet.

Being almost two weeks old, I guess they are in their early teens in human years.  They are sprouting tail feathers and ‘developing.’  I kinda wanted to make a chicken bra with two half coconuts, but I got distracted looking through the Polly Pocket bin trying to find coconuts that small.  They don’t need their incubator anymore and are moving out to the garage until they learn to tidy their cages and use deoderant.  And, also, stop spilling their water.

They also like to roost and feel out their independence.   Here’s the chickies helping Diana with her homework.

chicks

So, no viral video of Hufflepuff and the Chicks, but right after I put the camera away our neighbors came over to play.  The girls let the chicks perch on a toy pirate ship and we were trying to figure out to make Hot Wings walk the plank (about three inches off the ground, no animals were harmed during these reenactments!).  Suddenly the door flies open and there is my neighbor’s 3-year-old son with a sword in one hand and sporting a crooked eyepatch with the elastic folding over his right ear.  His face is absolutely filled with horror.  “No chicks on the pirate ship.  No chicks allowed.”

Yeah.  Where was my camera then?

 

Love,

Sherri