Sunday, April 29, 2007

What Have You Learned This Week?

What I learned this week...

1) As you know, we lost a friend last week. Her memorial service was beautiful and truly honored the person she was. I was reminded that during ultimate crisis, it is possible to maintain your dignity. It is possible to die beautifully, peacefully, and confidently. Learn from tragedy, become a stronger and better person, don't wallow in self pity. It is possible. Melissa taught us this.

2) If you are thinking about having children, do not offer to babysit a newborn. You will not want children after the fact. Even if he is a perfect baby, he will be an incredible amount of work. Nothing else will be accomplished in your day besides changing your outfit at least 3 times after being puked on, peed on, and 'everything else-ed' on. I learned this week to admire all mothers and fathers. Whether you stay home full time with your baby or you work and come home to your are my hero! If in fact you work at home and have a baby, would you kindly let me know how in the world you do it?!

3) If it is the first beautiful weekend for you to plant flowers, don't plant them all in one day. Your hands, arms, and back have gone soft over the winter. Take it slow, otherwise you will HURT all over for days afterward!

4) Tennis shoes should be worn with socks. Period.

5) The price of flowers has gone prepared.

6) Finally, I learned this week that there is nothing more beautiful than the sound of newborn finches 'laughing' inside your newly installed bird house. Spend five minutes one evening watching and listening to a mother bird feed her young. You will be glad you did.

Oh one more thing I learned...there are many people in this world that do not appreciate this punctuation mark (...). Personally, I love it.

What did you learn this week?

Friday, April 20, 2007

In Memory of Our Friend

My husband and I lost our friend Melissa today. After six months spent battling a very rare and aggressive cancer, Melissa Greer has gone home.

Melissa leaves behind her husband, Roger, of almost 8 months and her 2 1/2 month old son, Connor, whose actual due date was only 5 days ago. Connor was delivered early in order to give Melissa a chance to fight her illness.

We met Melissa when she was hired to work alongside my husband as a meteorologist on the WBTV team. Her smile is what struck you first, big and beautiful. Then you noticed her eyes, so full of life, so full of fire. She was barely 5 feet tall, and all spirit.

Melissa dated one of our best friends for several months. Two wonderful people not destined to be together, yet the admiration continued long after the break-up. The four of us rang in the New Year together in 2006.

I believe it was sometime in June that Melissa first met Roger. Instant love from what I hear. They decided to marry and set the date for that September. I remember hearing that Melissa wasn't feeling well on her wedding day, most figured it had to do with nerves.

Sadly, it did not. Melissa, 4 months pregnant with her first son, was diagnosed with one of the rarest cancers known last November. I will never forget hearing the news soon after my husband received a call from work. It didn't make sense.

It will never make sense.

My husband and I went to see Melissa one day while she was at work. She had not put on her wig or make-up yet, she was about 6 months pregnant with Connor. She was so beautiful. Chemo was tearing through her body, yet there she sat...working on the 7-day forecast. Tiny, but oh so tough.

I saw Melissa for the last time on April 1st. Several of her dearest friends had organized the baby shower she was unable to have prior to her son's birth. She was beautiful, but she was also very tired. I told her how strong I thought she was, she explained that she had not been given a choice...she was strong because she had to be.

Melissa also told me that she no longer held on to any fear. She did not fear dying. Her faith renewed, she knew she would be going home to her Lord Jesus Christ. I'm sure her smile is lighting up His kingdom at this very moment.

Melissa fought hard and never lost her positive attitude. She was proud of the person she became during her battle. She died today with dignity. She died quickly...peacefully, surrounded by family.

This Sunday, my husband and I will celebrate our first wedding anniversary. We realize how fortunate we are to have these times together. We will celebrate, but we will have heavy hearts.

We wish Roger and Melissa could have celebrated their own anniversary. God had a different plan, and though we don't understand...we know it is as it should be.

Please take a moment to celebrate today. Breathe deeply, smile greatly, kiss your loved ones...and say a prayer for a family that has only just begun the healing process.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mrs. Flexibility

One of the best things you can be in our line of work is...FLEXIBLE! No, I'm not referring to the ability to bend backwards and touch your nose to your toes, I'm referring to the flexibility you have with your time. If our schedules are not filled to the brim, opportunity can arise!

I always try to allow for time to relax, time to get things done around the house, help out at church, etc. I've read about many voice actors that immerse themselves in work. A bit of time to eat, tuck in the kids- and it's right back to the studio. This is great, if you are being paid the same per spot as Don LaFontaine! For the rest of us, over-scheduling can cause you to miss out on great opportunities.

I am not a big believer in quantity over quality.

I've received the same calls the rest of you have. 50 spots a month for $15 a pop! Great. So, I can have guaranteed monthly work at a MUCH rate lower than I would normally charge...or I can hold out for a job that might come from nowhere and be willing to pay me what I'm worth.

Perhaps I'm a gambler after I'd take the latter!

Yesterday was supposed to be my 'free day'. I had nothing scheduled, so I was planning to finally order those wedding pictures I've been meaning to get to (yes, it's been a YEAR!) and play in the garden a bit. The phone rang at 10am. A job I had turned down last week (the rate was too low) had decided to match my fee after all (which was TWICE what they originally offered). I had promised a quick turn around- so I recorded and sent it off in under an hour. Voila! Back to the gardens and wedding pictures...

At 2pm the phone rang again. How fast could I be ready to go on camera and record a car commercial in a town 30 minutes away? Considering I had been playing in the garden throughout the day, and was pretty sure there was a bit of bird poop on my left knee from the bird bath I had cleaned only moments was the fastest shower and make-up slathering of my life!

4 hours later, a 30 minute infomercial and 30 second TV commercial had been filmed! HAH! Now, not everyday goes like this (obviously- or we would be living in a much larger home!). However, if I was committed to 50 spots for a low rate on a deadline- I would not have been able to throw on some heels and earn a decent day's wages on a moment's notice!

Stop and think before you over-commit yourself to guaranteed work for low pay. Sometimes, being flexible and AVAILABLE can bring great rewards! Be confident in your abilities, deliver a great product, and know that you are worth the money spent!

In fact, I received the call an hour ago that the agency liked my work...I'm on the schedule for 2 more commercials next week!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Dear Diary

The very first day of VOICE 2007 was an incredible experience. Most of us spent all day wondering what it would be like when 200 voice actors from around the world sat in a single room together. Would the friendships that began in cyberspace hold up when standing face to face? Would I be judged on my appearance instead of just my voice? Would there be enormous ego filling the room? Would this change my career?

The meet and greet began at 6pm, so there were many hours to be filled prior. What most of my new friends did not realize is that I had been given an unusual task to fulfill in the 24 hours of March 27th, 2007. I was to write a diary of what it is like to be a female voice actor.

It is for a book coming out in 2008 called 'This Day In The Life of Working Women'. 500 women across America had been asked to write down their thoughts, job requirements, and each event that took place within those 24 hours. Only 30 diaries will be published, and a hundred or so more will have 'excerpts' published. I was one of the women asked to partake in this project. My diary filled 9 single spaced typed pages! Who knew I had so much to say? (please keep jokes to a minimum here)

It is so wonderful to have a detailed record of each of my thoughts on the first day of VOICE. I love looking back and realizing my own nerves and insecurities. Especially now that I know how kind, warm, and generous each of the people I met were!

For those that have read many of my blogs, or for those that once listened to me on the radio, you know that I have no shortage of wild imagination. I find parallels throughout my universe, and see things in my own little way.

What is funny about my account of March 27th is my absolute LACK of imagination! It is obvious to me that I was intensely focused on that day. I was ready to network and learn. I was taking my time in Vegas very seriously. Quite frankly...I was boring.

Needless to say, I have no expectation that my 24 hours on March 27th, 2007 will ever make it to the New York Times Best Seller list. In fact, I expect it will sit on my computer's hard drive never to see the light of day.

However, I will never regret the time I spent writing down every thought. I cherish having a full account of what it is like to be me and to work my job.

In fact, this is the reason for today's blog (yes, there is a purpose here). I challenge each of you to spend more time recording your own thoughts. You can do it on the This Day In The Life website, or you can write things down in your own diary. Take 24 hours of your life on an average day or an extraordinary day and record every thought you have. Trust me- you will be thankful to have it to look back on and share with your friends and family. We are each interesting- even on our boring days!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

VOICE 2007

As you can imagine, I took many notes throughout VOICE 2007. We were provided a detailed book with notes from each presenter, but I chose to write everything in a separate notebook I purchased before boarding the plane to Vegas. The good news is that I finally got through enough laundry that I was able to get to this notebook in the bottom of my suitcase this morning! Here are a few of the things I wrote down…Now, these are not ‘quotes’ necessarily, this is my interpretation of what was said…

Rodney Saulsberry….Wednesday 9:15am

-When preparation meets opportunity, you get ‘luck’.
-Its not how you sound, its how you interpret the copy.
-Each line is its own entity when voicing a movie trailer.
-Lush technique- little breath of air at the end of each sentence of a movie trailer.
-Comedy means melody…with a smile.
-Positive Attitude…let it be your brand.
-Put together a good ‘team’…friends, coaches, agents, etc.

Rodney’s home studio consists of:
The Snowball Mic (USB-light sound)
416 Seinheiser

-Always have a positive slate.

(Thanks Rodney!)

Connie Terwilliger….Wednesday 11am…Self Evaluation

-Self Evaluation…what do you sound like? What is your potential? Where do you fit?
-Do you have what it takes? Talent, Business, Marketing, Technology?
-Know what you have to sell.
-Listen to all things voice over.
-TV requires fewer ‘notes’ than radio…radio requires melody and inflection.
-Read a long book into your mic…do you like it?
-Read this book over two days…does the audio match? Maybe you would be good at audio books.
-Know and analyze your competition.
-Spend time listening to professional demos…strive to better yourself.

(Connie’s session was fantastic- I recommend learning as much as you can from her!)

Frank Frederick…Wednesday 4pm…Love Notes Branding

-Your brand should have Familiarity, Seduction, Mysteriousness, EMOTIONS!
-When people think of the words voice actor- they should think of YOU!

(Thank you Frank…you are wonderful!)

Chris Wagner…Thursday 9am…Websites

I took over 4 pages of notes from Chris’s session. I will post them later…he was completely informative!

Pat Fraley…Thursday 10:45am

As you may or may not know, Pat is my mentor and my hero…

-Smile to avoid a ‘popped P’
-Make vowel sounds when ‘falling down stairs’- don’t say ‘oh, oh, oh’- say ‘ah, eh, oh, uh’…do a Heimlich on yourself!
-When slating you could shake the paper before saying the name of the character…edit the slate to your edited audition to make it sound live!
-Or have a professional studio say ‘we are rolling, go ahead’ to make it sound bigger and better!
-Never slate in character
-Always slate in character
-Series of 3…best choice, contrast, and best choice again…the 3rd take will be the blend of the first two and will be the keeper.
-Voice over is chess, not checkers- Interpret each line differently
-Disregard punctuation
-There are 8 ways to move around a mic for emphasis. Practice them.
-Make one sound each day you have never made before.
-Step out of the box, be different, have no fear!

James Alburger and Penny Abshire…Thursday 2pm…Psychology of voice Over

Please forgive me…James and Penny had such great notes in the book I didn’t take any on my own. They are so full of passion and life, true success stories!

Gregory Best…Friday 9am…Negotiate Your Best Fee

-Telephone negotiation is risky. You skip things, have bad math, and there are no visuals.
-Screen your calls…let them leave a message…call them back on your own terms.
-Don’t be pressured by ‘perceived’ deadlines.
-Everything is negotiable.
-Respect yourself, value your services, eliminate negative self-talk.
-Learn to say NO.
-Listen, don’t be thinking of your counterpoint while the other person is talking.
-Ask questions, learn!
-Have high aspirations, believe in your product.
-Make a list of questions you can use for every job…is the audio dry, what is the length, do I need to use an outside studio?? Etc.
-Be patient.
-Be flexible, look at things from both sides.
-Be willing to take risks…Be a problem solver.
-Be willing to walk away.
-It isn’t personal, its not about personality.
-Slow down, Be nice, Have style.
-Keep your ethics.
-Never accept the first offer!
-Never make the first concession.
-Ask what their budget is.

(Thanks Greg!)

Bettye Zoller…Friday 10:45 am…Audiobooks

Bettye was very interactive and hands-on…I loved her instantly! I took very few notes because most of it was on-mic practice.

-You are not selling…you are telling.
-Audiobook demos should be 4-5 minutes long
-Each cut should be 30-45 seconds.
-Vary the cuts from fiction, to non-fiction, to mystery, to dialogue, etc.
-If a script has dialogue, read in character!

MJ Lallo…Friday 2pm…Characters in Animation

Again, MJ was very hands-on, so it was almost all on-mic practice. I was very disappointed I wasn’t chosen to go on-mic during MJ's session. It was mostly by raffle drawing…the voice over gods were not in my favor :) I did learn so much from her though!

-Character demos should be all contrast.
-Do impressions on a separate demo, not on your character demo.
-Give each of your ‘voices’ a name…make them real.
-When negotiating fees, ask yourself- where is it going? Who will hear it? Is it a buyout? Then add $500, or whatever you feel is right.
-Non-union? Then go 20% below union fees, no more…don’t sell yourself short!

(Thanks MJ- I would kill to have private lessons with you!)

DB Cooper…Friday 3:45pm…Master of All Things Gaming!

DB is incredible. Her passion for gaming is inspiring. After her session- I wanted to voice even MORE games (than I already have). I also would love to play against her in a game…I would lose, but it would be FUN!

-If you want to voice video games, you have to play video games. Period.
-VO in games includes: intros, dialogue, explanations, and fighting/moving sounds.
-Let’s go blow some Sh1t up!

(Love me some Deirdre!)

I’m officially pooped…I will have more notes soon, especially those from Chris Wagner. He has inspired me to completely re-do my website…professionally! Chris, you will be hearing from me soon!

In the meantime- please click on the links below for Vox Daily and Bob Souer. Stephanie over at is writing much more detailed notes and reviews of each session, and Bob has some great stories from Vegas! Be sure to check the blogs of others that attended VOICE- there was SO much to learn and I‘m sure each of us took away something different!

More Poop Talk

As an update to my previous post about worm poop and voice overs...I have been using the Terra Cycle All Purpose Plant Food for over a month now, and I can honestly say my plants have never looked better!

I was at the store yesterday and noticed Terra Cycle also has orchid food, garden food, and lawn food all made from worm poop. They are cheaper than all other plant foods, eco-friendly, and earth conscious. So- I bought them all and will let you know how they work out.

No, I do not own stock in this company- my mother is not the owner. I have no other connection to them other than the fact that I find their story inspiring. I believe my first post about them was sometime in early March if you want to learn more :)

As for me, I recently 'fertilized' my studio with a new pre-amp and will be buying a new mixer soon. I spent the week in Las Vegas 'harvesting' new friends and 'watering' my brain with voice over knowledge. I believe the 'seeds' are taking root and my business will continue its steady growth! I am still subscribing to the Terra Cycle philosophies and the outlook couldn't be better!

As MJ Lallo says...KEEP GOING!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Look Me In the Eye

Having just returned from a fantastic week in Las Vegas where I attended the VOICE 2007 conference, I hope you will forgive me for the brevity of this post. I hope to gather my thoughts once I am caught up and write out the details of my unbelievable experience!

I did want to write one thing...

Eye contact is so important. Actually seeing your co-workers and friends any chance you get is invaluable. [Are you wondering if sleep deprivation has finally gotten to me?]

As a voice actor, most of my time is spent in a padded closet or behind a computer. Even when I am outside in the gardens, I am often alone. Sure, I see my husband on a regular basis, and we make time to spend with friends and family. However, it is very rare that I am able to see my fellow voice actors face to face.

We e-mail, we chat, we work together via ISDN, we even talk on the phone occasionally. It is not the same as looking each of you in the eye.

Now that I know what a wonderful community I work in- I am even more proud to tell the world, I am a professional voice actor! I know I am in great company.

Take the time to meet the voice actors you work with. Look them in the eye. They have beautiful souls.