This Is Happiness: A Warm Hug of Awesome For Your Ears

By Tasche Laine

 

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Photo by Pixabay

 

Do you remember what it was like to be read to?

 

Imagine a young child of around age three to five, cozy in bed and snuggled up to Mom or Dad. As she fights to stay awake, one last plea leaves her lips, “Mommy, will you read me a story?” She feels a sense of wonder and awe as the story unfolds and is soon lulled into dreamland by the dulcet tones of the story’s reader.
 
It was a great feeling, right? Being read to? Feeling safe and warm and cozy, and closing your eyes while creating the world you’re listening to in your imagination?
 
Reading out loud is a time-honored tradition that goes back thousands of years. In fact, story tellers have been around since even before the words were ever created on any printed page. We, as people, were auditory learners first. We learned to speak by mimicking the sounds we heard.
 
According to the Read to Me International website, when parents read aloud to their children, they are “laying the foundation for their (children’s) educational success.” The site further states that “reading aloud nurtures a child’s sense of security and worth” and that “reading aloud creates a bond between the reader and the child.” https://www.readtomeintl.org/read-aloud/
 
Is it any wonder then that audiobooks are so widely popular? Perhaps, in today’s high-tech, multi-tasking, overachieving society . . . we long for simpler days. Perhaps we just want someone to read aloud to us.
 
Audiobooks are the grown-up’s answer to being read to. Not only can we listen to a great book, oftentimes we can get some of that multi-tasking done too, saving time in the process. Instead of sitting down to read when we may not feel like we have the time, we can enjoy listening — while driving, exercising, cooking, gardening, folding laundry, and other tasks that don’t require much thought.
 
What makes an audiobook so good? The narrator, of course! Let’s face it, a narrator can make or break an audiobook. That voice can have us spellbound — or scrabbling for the mute button — in a matter of a few minutes.
 
And what’s the secret to being a good narrator? Besides personal preference?
 
A really talented narrator breathes life into the characters. The ultimate narrator takes the words on the page and makes the story come to life. I recently had the pleasure of working with such a narrator.
 
My ears were opened to the wonderful world of audiobooks by the amazingly talented and very kind, highly esteemed and award-winning Audio Sorceress, Marnye Young. She walked me through the process of converting my print book into audio — a world I knew nothing about. Marnye was professional, and very informative. She went above and beyond by answering all my questions with patience and poise. She is a delight and a pleasure to work with.
 
And her voice? Wow, Marnye has an incredible range! She has the voice of an angel. And a psychotic male, and an 11-year-old girl, and an elderly Japanese woman with an impeccable accent. She created a unique voice for every single character in my book. The characters and story were alive — living and breathing and exceeding my expectations beyond my own imagination when I wrote them. That’s talent.
 
Marnye is personable and very sweet as well. With over 75 audiobooks to her credit, she is immensely experienced in any genre you could throw at her. If you’d like to get a glimpse into how she does what she does, read this article written by Marnye herself. http://booksbywomen.org/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-narrator-by-marnye-young/
 
If you are an author interested in turning your book into an audiobook, I highly recommend that you use Marnye Young, Audio Sorceress. If you are an audiobook reader, I highly recommend that you listen to books narrated by Marnye Young, Audio Sorceress.
 
I, for one, definitely want Marnye to read to me.
 
And who’s the number one audiobook narrator? According to sources at Audible and Kobo, it’s Jim Dale, the voice of the Harry Potter series. It is said that he created 134 different voices for these books! I think he deserves top-billing for that. Don’t you? Have a listen for yourself.
https://www.audible.com/blog/videos/behind-the-scenes/jim-dale-narrator-of-the-harry-potter-series/
 
If you’d like to check out Marnye’s reading of my book, Chameleon, you can do that here. And if you want to hear more of Marnye Young, Audio Sorceress, click here.

 

What Inspires Your Creativity?

By Tasche Laine

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Have you ever wondered where your favorite authors get ideas for their books? Were they inspired by true life experiences? Did inspiration come to them in a dream? Or did they just make the whole thing up using nothing but their imaginations?

 

In the article, “How an Author’s Life Influences Literary Works,” by Angela Janovsky, “Every person has individual experiences that affect his or her personality, and an author is no different. History, gender, race, and other factors have a strong influence on (an author’s) writing.”

https://study.com/academy/lesson/how-an-authors-life-influences-literary-works.html

 

Before I wrote my latest book, CHAMELEON, I got an idea for a psychological thriller. Using the worst character traits from every guy I ever dated, and borrowing a couple from friends’ dating horror stories, I came up with the scheming, manipulative, and narcissistic psychopath, Geoffrey Jensen. 

 

We’ve all met guys like Geoffrey, to a point. But Geoffrey is that maniac who cut you off on the freeway last week—on steroids times ten! He’s every girl’s dream guy and worst nightmare rolled into one.

 

Once I had the idea for my main story, I began to flesh it out  

 

Since many of my readers shared with me that they didn’t understand some of the choices Tara made in CLOSURE, my first book, I decided to continue with that character and let her explain herself—in CHAMELEON. It turns out, Tara had more to say.

 

Even though my first book is a fictional memoir, and the character of Tara is based on me and events in my own life, I thought it would be fun to let the fictional character take over in the next book. So, I turned her life into a domestic thriller!

 

Since CHAMELEON continues where CLOSURE left off, I brought in Joe and Jalina, who are both loosely based on my ex-husband and daughter. But again, they’ve been fictionalized.

 

The only character in my latest book who is based on a real-life person is my favorite character—Dorey Dalton. In the book, she’s single and Tara’s best friend. But the real Dorey was so much more. She is the true inspiration behind CHAMELEON. She is the person who inspired me to follow my dream of becoming a published author. And she gave me the gentle nudge I needed when I didn’t think I could do it.

 

The real-life Dorey Madrid was a beloved high school English teacher of twenty-four years, devoted wife and mother to two amazing kids, and my friend. She loved to laugh, fish, travel, read, and cause mischief. 

 

She was a friend to all who knew her, and feisty until the very end. She fought valiantly for four years, remaining hopeful and optimistic with every round of chemotherapy. She touched thousands of lives, inspired many students to follow their dreams, and is missed every day by her former students, family, friends, and me.

 

Sadly, Dorey lost her battle to breast cancer last summer. I wrote her into my book because I needed a part of her to stay alive—if only in my writing. I believe writing about her, even if it was a younger fictional version of her, helped my grieving process. I only hope I captured a glimpse of her essence, honored her legacy, and made her proud. 

 

Thanks for reading some of the inspiration for CHAMELEON. If you would like to pick up a copy you can do that here. And watch for the audiobook to be released in June! 

And if you have an interest in writing a book or publishing it yourself, here are two great articles to check out! https://self-publishingschool.com/how-to-write-a-book/ and https://selfpublishing.com/self-publishing

Be The Change You Wish To See In The World

By Tasche Laine

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 I am grateful to be here. I am grateful to be alive, grateful that I beat cancer, and grateful to have a voice—so I am using it.
 
In June of 2012, I had a thyroidectomy.  A third of my thyroid was surgically removed because it had a fluid filled cyst, the size of a small plum, attached to it. The mass had been sitting on my voice box and a mere millimeter from my carotid artery.
 
When I asked if the surgery was necessary, Dr. Lee said, “You want to live, don’t you? If the mass moves and hits your carotid—you’re dead.” I liked this guy. He didn’t have much of a bedside manner, but he told it to me straight, and I appreciated that.
 
After the surgery, Dr. Lee was there when I woke up in recovery. He handed me a pen and a clipboard with blank paper on it, and asked how I was feeling.
 
“A little groggy, I guess, but pretty good,” I said easily. “But what is this paper for?”
 
“Wait, what? You’re talking? Tasche, you’re not supposed to be able to speak,” said a bewildered Dr. Lee, who had given me the paper to write my reply.
 
What was he talking about? Was I hearing things? Maybe it was the pain meds. I mean, yes, he did warn me that I might never speak again, but I didn’t think he meant it! Doctors are always going on about the risks of surgery. You know, yada, yada, yada. I didn’t really pay much attention to it when I signed all those pre-surgery forms.
 
He explained how my voice box had been completely crushed during surgery, and that he had painstakingly tried to re-shape it and make it “3-D” again. He admitted that he thought his efforts had been futile and was positive I’d lost my voice. And then he pointed at the ceiling and said, “Somebody up there likes you.”
 
The fact that I could speak was a medical miracle. The fact that I had zero knowledge of this grim prognosis before entering surgery, I think, was also a miracle. Why worry about something I had no control over? Especially when it turns out there was nothing to worry about in the first place? I can speak!
 
***
 
Four years later, in November of 2016, I had a radical nephrectomy. This surgery removed my left kidney and the 5.7-pound cancerous tumor that was attached to it. Because the tumor was so large, it required a twelve-inch incision (sternum to lower gut) that looks like a 7 or an upside down L, to remove the tumor intact—to prevent the cancer from spreading.
 
The surgery went better than anyone had hoped, and to this day I am cancer free. I’m alive!
 
So when I tell you I am grateful to be here—I mean it. I feel I have been given another chance at this thing called life and I want to do something with it. I have a voice and I want to use it.
 
I’m launching my first book today. It just went live on Amazon as I write this. Yes, that was a surreal sentence to write.
 
I wrote CLOSURE for a few reasons. First, this story would not let me rest until I told it. I felt I had a story to tell, and even though it is deeply personal, I felt an obligation to tell it. I want to be a voice for the people who feel silenced. My story addresses formerly taboo topics such as rape and depression.
 
It is time to acknowledge the prevalence of these issues—the first step as a catalyst for change. I was inspired to speak out by Milck’s song, “Quiet.” I can’t keep quiet anymore—and I want things to change. This is something I can do with my new life; and if it helps one person, makes a difference in one reader’s life—it will be worth it. I’m taking Gandhi’s advice and I’m “be(ing) the change (I) wish to see in the world.”
 
CLOSURE is a hybrid of two genres—fiction and memoir. It is based on a true story of events in my life, but some aspects have been fictionalized for literary effect, and names have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved.
 
I hope that you will see this book as more than just a story about two kids who fell in love. Because life is so much more complicated than that. Yes, there is a love story here, but it is also a life story.
 
I am alive. I am grateful. I am celebrating. Life with all its crazy ups and downs is messy, but it’s also beautiful—and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
 
If you’d like, you can view CLOSURE here.