I originally posted this on my page regarding LibriVox activity, but since most people probably hit this main blog first (or only!), I'm copying it over here.
Yeah, I said in a post below that my blog was moribund... and then it was (perhaps) getting a new start... but really, let's stick with moribund. I'm not a writer, or the long file I maintain of story ideas would be filled with stories, instead.
But here I am in 2021, ten months of social isolation behind me, and, despite promises of vaccine within the next month, probably looking at months and months more. So I've spared a thought toward my lovely and faithful LibriVox listeners and want to say "thanks" again for making me an international recording star! At the end of 2020, you've downloaded my 78 major solo works (through LibriVox or our vault, archive.org) 28.5 million times!
Lest the exclamation marks make you fear I'm getting a fat head, I'll note that my commercial works collectively have sold about 5,000 copies. So on average, between my free (FREE!!!) Librivox recordings and my paid work, the value of a book narrated by me is pretty close to nothing. I actually took that hint some years back and stopped doing commercial work after 2015.
Some of you may be confused by my assertion that most of my recordings are free. I know of at least four companies that took selected recordings of mine (and other respectable LV narrators), stripped out the LibriVox statements from each chapter, put a new cover on the books, and sold them on Audible. One of these companies even passed the narrations through a filter to change/disguise the voices, and made up the names of the narrators who supposedly produced them. I hope you didn't get my work through that route.
Why don't we stop these pirates, you wonder? Well, they're not pirates, really. Actually, what they do is within the letter of the law. When we record for LibriVox, we give up ALL rights in the recordings. That's right - even the right to have the work attributed to us. I think it's scurrilous to sell on Audible what we produce for free on LibriVox, but it's certainly legal.
NOT coincidentally, that's why we only read works in the public domain. We can't just choose to read a copyrighted work and post it; that's against copyright law. So, LibriVox titles also are free from pesky legal issues from the writers' point of view, too.
Hey, I got a message some years back from a pair of professors who were trying to build new synthetic voices for people who have lost their voiceboxes through accident or surgery. They said they had used several of my books to feed their algorithms, for they were attempting to teach artificial voices to modulate naturally. They invited me to read scripts for them to create an artificial voice that sounds like me. I was flattered... but declined. Their organization proposed to sell these artificial voices to patients that needed them, and I didn't feel like doing the work for them so they could make money. LibriVox and retirement both make me inclined to donate my time and experience where needed or wanted. (That organization is still around and doing well; I get occasional updates from them.)
My main blog details that I also have taken up board game design. When I get an idea, I write a 2-3 page design document that lays out what I know already of how it will work. I gravitate to whatever idea draws me most at the time (usually the most recent) and work on fleshing it out. I'll make a paper prototype and test my rules. When I think I have a solid design, I'll work up all the art and send it to a publisher to make a single copy. Then, my family and local game buddies are invited to play. So far, they have put up with 44 different games! I have another in artwork now.
So these board games have been competing with narrating. And so have photography, and image photoshopping, and yes, game playing! But I did restart my LibriVoxing after a couple years of trying to break into the commercial market. So, the listing below will bring this part of my blog up-to-date.
The Black Arrow, by Robt. L. Stevenson. I find I like Stevenson's work quite a lot, even the ones like The Ebb Tide, which I narrated some time back, that no one's ever heard of! I've also done Treasure Island and Kidnapped, if you're looking for suggestions you have heard of.
The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas. LV's first version of this, a collaborative work, had 10 chapters I narrated, and I finally decided I ought to do the complete book!
The Prophet, by Khalil Gibran. I had always heard great things of this work; they were warranted!
Blake of the "Rattlesnake", by Fred Jane. I had read an article about books published around 1895-1900 that attempted to kick the British Admiralty into the modern era, by writing about sudden wars with European powers that left the Royal Navy baffled and powerless. (The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers, also available on LV, is one such.) Fred Jane's book is one of those. Jane went on to found the magisterial annual review of the world's navies, usually known simply as "Jane's".
When We Were Very Young, by A.A. Milne. As a great fan of Pooh 'n Piglet 'n friends, I delved into this gentle childrens book... which isn't about Pooh 'n Piglet 'n friends, but does mention a Pooh.
Americans All - Immigrants All, by The U.S. Department of the Interior. Listening to all the talk about the US-Mexico Wall made me want to hear another perspective on immigration. Actually, one of my commercial readings, No One Is Illegal, by Davis & Chacon, had already given me a background in Mexican immigration; the Dept. of Interior's book looked at immigration from around the world.
The Mark of Zorro, by Johnston McCulley. I was a fan of the Disney TV series Zorro many decades ago, and this was a popular part of the source material. McCulley wrote a number of other books on Zorro, largely not yet in public domain.
From the Earth to the Moon, by Jules Verne. This was one of my first exposures to science fiction, and the idea of shooting men to the Moon with a gigantic cannon really captured my young interest. So, unlike most of my narrations, I had already read the book before narrating it, albeit almost 60 years before!
Round the Moon, by Jules Verne. As of this date, this is in progress and half done. It's the sequel to the previous book and describes what happens when you miss the Moon with your gigantic cannon!
Although it's not yet started, I have firmly decided my next book will be The Lost Horizon, by James Hilton. This book was widely acclaimed in the 30's and has just hit the public domain. Heard of Shangri-La? It's from this book!
After that, I have a yen to do the Federalist Papers so I can get a broader perspective on the Founding Fathers and what they hoped they were creating when they created our Republic.
02-22 UPDATE: It turned out The Lost Horizon is not yet PD, so I regretfully gave up on it. The Federalist Papers are complete - running to about 24 hours!