Proudly Announcing ... 2013 Books Written By My Facebook Friends

I was looking for new reads, so yesterday I turned to a talented source: my friends on Facebook. "I want to read new books written by you people," I posted. "If you wrote a book published (or forthcoming) in 2013, could you drop the title, publisher, and target audience in the comments?"

Here are the eclectic, inspiring results, sorted by genre (there may be others, but these were submitted by friends who happened to stop by Facebook yesterday):

Picture Book

When You Wander, A Search and Rescue Dog Story | Margarita Engle | Holt

The Kite That Bridged Two Nations: Homan Walsh and the First Niagara Suspension Bridge | Alexis O'Neill | Calkins Creek

Ghost in the House | Ammi-Joan Paquette | Candlewick

Bogart and Vinnie: A Completely Made-up Story of True Friendship | Audrey Glassman Vernick | Walker

Children's Fiction

Little Women and Me | Lauren Baratz-Logsted | Bloomsbury

Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom | Tym Byrd | Outlaw Moon Books

Cartwheel: A Sequel to Double Eagle | Sneed Collard | Bucking Horse Books

Emma Emmets. Playground Matchmaker | Julia Rozines DeVillers | Razorbill

Mountain Dog | Margarita Engle | Holt

Seeing Red | Kathy Erskine | Scholastic

4 Zeke Meeks chapter books | Debra Green Garfinkle | Capstone

The Four Seasons of Patrick | Susan Hughes | Red Deer Press

Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War | Helen Frost | Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Dr. Radway's Sarsaparilla Resolvent | Beth Kephart | New City Community Press

Odette's Secrets | Maryann Macdonald | Bloomsbury

Rules for Ghosting | Ammi-Joan Paquette | Walker

The Nelig Stones | Sharon Skinner | Brick Cave Books

Children's/YA Non-Fiction

When Rivers Burned: The Earth Day Story | Linda Crotta Brennan | Apprentice Shop Books

The Lightning Dreamer, Cuba's Greatest Abolitionist | Margarita Engle | Harcourt

Anne Frank's Chestnut Tree | Jane Kohuth | Random House

Young Adult Fiction and Fantasy

Cameron and the Girls | Edward Averett | Clarion/HMH

No More Goddesses | Kim Baccellia | Zumaya Thresholds

Graffiti Knight | Karen Willsey Bass | Pajama Press (Canada)

Brother, Brother | Clay Carmichael | Roaring Brook

The Gleaning | Heidi R. Kling | Coliloquy

Dream Girl | S.J. Lomas | Scribe

Paradox | Ammi-Joan Paquette | Random House

Dead is a Dream | Marlene Perez | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Faerie After | Janni Lee Simner | Random House

Feral Nights | Cynthia Leitich Smith | Candlewick

The Language Inside | Holly Thompson | Delacorte/Random House

Adult Fiction

Dark Descent | Marlene Perez | Orbit

The Bargain: A Novel (Plain City Peace) | Stephanie Reed | Kregel

Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding: An Antique Print Mystery | Lea Wait | Perseverance Press

Adult Non-Fiction

The Disrespectful Interviewer: Thirteen Interviews with Authors (e-book) | Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Handling the Truth | Beth Kephart | Gotham

Preaching and Ethnic Diversity (Title to Come) | Lisa Washington Lamb

Making Our Way Through The Traffic: A Christian Response to Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking | Glenn Miles | Regnum

Blindsided: A Game Plan for Grief | Mark Scott | Clements

And Greg Hatcher added, "Probably not your thing, but I wrote a hell-for-leather adventure story starring the Black Bat for one of Airship27's 'New Pulp' anthologies."

Congratulations, one and all. Proud to be in your company, because a book is no easy thing to create. As John Butman notes in "Should You Write a Book?" (published in the Harvard Business Review and well worth a read), "There are many valuable roles a book, and only a book, can play in taking an idea public and gaining respiration for it — that is, making it come to life and breathe on its own."

Voice Acting For Dummies: My Fantasy Studios Gig

To kick off my writing vocation in Northern California, Brilliance Audio sent me to Fantasy Studios in Berkeley to record the introduction and my own contribution to OPEN MIC: RIFFS ON LIFE BETWEEN CULTURES IN TEN VOICES.

Wait, stop.

Fantasy Studios, people.

This is where Lil Wayne heads after his Bay Area concerts, where Robin Williams voices his animated characters, where Journey and Aerosmith and the Grateful Dead recorded bestselling albums.

I walked in feeling awestruck, certainly, but secretly I was slightly cocky. After all, when I read to our boys growing up, I tried to be mesmerizing, right? They seemed into it. And when I read in church, I strive for reverence and excellence, and people seem to appreciate it. So it couldn't be that hard to read my own writing aloud, right?


Director and master voice actor Paul Costanzo gently but firmly led me through a session that lasted two hours, giving perfect examples with his beautiful voice, using inflection, pacing, intonation, and pitch to add meaning and depth to my writing. At times I swear he sounded more like a Bengali-American woman than I did.

Paul Costanzo (left), director and voice actor, and sound engineer
Alberto Hernandez (right) steered me through my recording session.
Thanks to today's experience, I certainly won't listen to an audio book in the same way. The thought, care, and talent that voice actors put into reading our novels make the purchase of an audio version well worth it. Their voices add a whole new dimension to our stories, as I sensed while listening to the audio version of Bamboo People, voiced by Jonathan Davis.

"To me, phrasing a piece of copy requires the same sensibility as phrasing a line of music," said Costanzo in an interview with the Mill Valley Literary Review. "The job of the narrator is to get the words off the page and into the theater of the mind of the listener, and the way the words take shape off the page has a profound impact on what the listener can envision."

I hope I managed to accomplish a bit of that in my own narration. The audio version of OPEN MIC releases 9.10.13, the same day as the anthology, so I guess we'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I'm browsing libraries and bookstores to find some good audio books.