Shannon's Daughter By Karen Welch

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Shannon’s Daughter
The last thing he expected to find in Ireland that summer was the inspiration to go on with his life, and certainly not in the form of an adolescent heiress.

New York socialite Peg Shannon has everything—wealth, position, beauty and limitless prospects for happiness. Or so the world believes.
Aspiring London violinist Kendall Gregg is talented, handsome and charming. While hardly well-to-do, he has connections and ambition which should take him far. Or so it appears.

Thrown together briefly by a twist of fate, Kendall quickly becomes young Peg’s hero, while Peg proves to be Kendall’s unlikely salvation. Through the decades, their deepening passion and shared secrets forge an enduring bond, destining them for a love affair that comes but once in a lifetime.

Set in the mid-twentieth century, Shannon’s Daughter chronicles the complex relationship between two people constrained by family responsibility and a tragic secret, while delving into the history of one of the most intriguing characters in the Miracle at Valley Rise series.

Shannon’s Daughter—The Making of an Audiobook

Recently I invited the readers of my personal blog on a little journey, one I never even dreamed of taking. Shannon's Daughter--a book I never dreamed of writing, come to think of--was about to be made into an audiobook via the Amazon platform, ACX. This territory was so foreign to me, I couldn’t envision the process. I know writing, self-publishing, and the ongoing trial and error of promotion. Posting my titles on ACX in hopes of finding a producer/narrator willing to bring them to audio life for the mere pittance of “Shared Royalties” was something I decided to give a shot, kind of like buying lottery tickets (not something I’m even willing to try, actually) or entering those holiday drawings during our local Downtown Open House Day. Nothing would come of it, but why not?

Therefore, the initial silence did not particularly dampen my interest in this venture. As I posted one after another of my titles, I rationalized that surely out there was one talented voice seeking the satisfaction of creating for virtually nothing, in which case we were obviously meant for one another! I reached out to narrators who seemed well suited to read my sweet, mildly inspirational romances, and each and every one responded with a thank you, but no thank you. Their “schedules were already booked with higher paying gigs, but good luck on my project!” I tried not to be discouraged. I had only started this on a whim, right? But rejection, even of a whim, stings, so I took another run at it.

In a blatant act of defiance, I decided to post my historical romance, Shannon's Daughter—the book I consider my red-haired stepchild. Although it is inspired by a character from my Miracle at Valley Rise series, it is neither sweet, inspirational, nor a traditional romance, ie no happily ever after. The reviews have been a bit of all over the place, but primarily positive, which frankly surprised the heck out of me. If there was a book I felt compelled to write despite my own doubt in its success, this is the one. But I love this book for its characters, its settings, and frankly, its quirks. So, all that said, I shook my fist at the creative gods and posted Shannon’s Daughter to ACX, with absolutely no expectations.

What happened next was downright stunning. It turns out Amazon has this wonderful thing called a stipend program. Through whatever mysterious combination of algorithms and sorcery, they choose certain books and offer narrators a stipend per completed hour to produce them. I'll never know how Shannon’s Daughter was chosen, but I've got the email saying "Congratulations" to prove it was. Up went the little green banner on the post, which works like a magnet where auditions are concerned. No sooner had I received that stunning email than the little audio snippets started to appear.

One by one, nine amazing voices reading my words, nine talented individuals of varying ages, from all over the country and even abroad, lined up for my consideration. Heady stuff, that. They were all impressive. With each one, I felt more and more conflicted. But there was one, and only one, who gave me chills. I even sent him a message to make sure he understood the payment offered, because I was afraid to get attached and find out he wouldn't really work for less than I'm sure he's worth. But no, he assured me he was "more than interested" in recording Shannon’s Daughter. In the final analysis, it was clear that the undeniably talented Matthew Lloyd Davies was The One, the voice destined to bring Shannon’s Daughter to life for audiobook listeners everywhere!

When I write, as I'm sure is true for most writers, I hear, see, sometimes smell, and even feel my characters. They are flesh and blood individuals from practically the moment they "walk" onto the page. I often wonder how my image compares to that of the reader's. I hope for close. I hope they can picture the features, the hair and eye color, the timbre of the voice, but I accept that we each perceive differently and as long as the reader enjoys the story these characters tell, I'm cool with that. But when Matt was reading Shannon's Daughter in preparation for the recording, I spent some agonized brain time wondering just what he was seeing as he read, and more importantly, what he was hearing. I know these characters, I gave them life, but now it's Matt's turn. How well will our two creations mesh?

I wasted that brain time. The characters on the recording are in complete accord with those in my head! If I hadn't already fallen in love with Kendall Gregg when I wrote Shannon's Daughter, listening to him would definitely have done the trick! Matt gives him precisely the right polish without the least hint of "posh-ness." The pitch of his voice and his accent are enough to send shivers down any feminine spine, but there's nothing roguish about him. Kendall comes across--just as I know him to be--as a sensitive, somewhat battered, and basically honest young man with a painful secret. With teenaged Peg, his kindness towards--and kindly amusement at--the often outrageously outspoken young heiress come shining through. By the time Peg has grown to a young woman and she and Kendall meet again, his "heart on his sleeve" admiration of her produces the above- mentioned shivers by the barrel.

Peg Shannon, who I "heard" as a cross between Katherine Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy, is precisely that, a bit of Yankee twang overlaid with just the right touch of breathiness. I'm never sure just how much I like Peg, but I love what Matt did with her character! I feel I know her better now, this woman whose head I could never get into sufficiently to tell the story from her POV.

But it's the secondary characters, even the tiniest bit players, who come to life in this recording and fill the "stage." I laughed out loud at times. Having played my share of walk-on roles, I am delighted that each of these folks is given a distinctive voice worthy of the finest character actor. I love my secondaries. Many of them are based on people I've known and loved. They are often tributes to real "characters" from my personal journey. I'm so grateful to Matt for giving them their proper due.

For a preview of just what a wonderful job he did, hop over to the sample and have a listen.  http://www.amazon.com/Shannons-Daughter/dp/B00RNA3I2C/ref=la_B007ILHX90_1_3_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423158598&sr=1-3