A dragon, a castle, and an audiobook

It’s always exciting to get packages in the mail, and the best way to ensure this is to buy yourself presents.

Recently I bought myself a present that (I fondly imagine) is currently winging its way across the ocean. I’m not sure I could have waited for it to get here, so fortunately I arranged a sneak preview.

Dragon and castle

Dragon, cat, and castle
Yes, this is an accurate portrayal of me and His Royal Fluffiness. And my dragon and our castle.

The original is a painting I commissioned from the lovely and talented Carolina Russo, which she is kindly letting me share with you. (You can read her post about creating the painting here.)

Now please excuse me for just a minute while I squee with excitement. Because dragon! And cat! And castle! And that’s me!

I stumbled across Carolina’s blog quite by accident, and kept going back to look at her gorgeous watercolours. Then one day she posted about a painting she’d done for a writer, and I had to have one.

She asked me what defined me as a person. (Not in those words, but in words that were equally mind-emptying.) Omg, I write fantasy–why can’t I think of anything interesting about myself?

I toyed with the fear I’m actually a dull person. Then I started thinking about dragons.

That’s His Royal Fluffiness patting at the dragon. Don’t worry, it’s not going to eat him. And that’s my castle, all pennoned-up. You can come and visit me there if you promise to wipe your boots.

My month of reading fantasy

You might recall I had four fantasy books lined up to read in February. I didn’t quite make it. I read The Star-Touched Queen, The Obelisk Gate, Wake of Vultures, and I’m about 70% of the way through The Wise Man’s Fear. (It’s really long!)

I finished the first of the two beta reads I had planned, and I’m nearly done with the second. I also read a couple of non-fiction books.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased. Next step is to finish The Wise Man’s Fear, and then I’ll have Sebastian and Rain report back on what they thought of it.

I drew a winner for my fantasy book prize draw and emailed them, but I haven’t heard back yet, so check your spam folder. (It’s really hard to say “you won a book!” without looking like spam.)

In the forest, without a dragon

My new plan

I also have a plan for this month. Audiobooks! I don’t think I’ve ever listened to an audiobook (in English, at least), but I’ve heard so much about them recently and they seem like a great way to read more books while getting useful things like housework done.

I have a few doubts.

Doubt 1: American accents

There’s a good chance an audiobook I buy will be narrated with an American accent, and I’m sorry, but American accents can be quite grating when you’re used to Kiwi accents.

If the book is set in New York, an American accent is understandable. But people in non-Earth fantasy worlds DO NOT speak with American accents. At least, not when I read them.

We’ll see if I can get over this one.

Doubt 2: This is my world, what are you doing here?

Reading a good novel is an almost magical experience, and it’s an experience I prefer to have alone. Taking another person with you creates an additional shackle to the physical world and makes it that much harder to get immersed in the world of the book.

If I try to cram the narrator into the world of the book with me, will it be too crowded?

On the other hand, as a child I loved being read to. Maybe I can overcome my hangups about sharing and just enjoy the story.

I’ll give it a try and report back when I have a verdict.


Have you tried audiobooks, and are you a fan? Do the accents bother you? Anything I should watch out for?

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This is my forest

Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

19 thoughts on “A dragon, a castle, and an audiobook”

  1. LOVE the painting! It’s fantastic! Is she framing it also, or is that up to you?

    I’ve only done one audiobook that I recall, waaay back in the days of cassettes! I picked up Clive Cussler’s Cyclops form the library. I really enjoyed it, but this was one that used at least two different voice actors IIRC – one male and one female. There were some faint sound effects as well, I think. Just atmosphere type stuff, like a very gentle wave sound when they were on a boat, things like that. When a freighter exploded, they didn’t try to do that. It reminded me very much of a radio drama.

    But that was back when I was driving almost 45 minutes one-way to work, and had the time to devote to an audiobook. These days I’m less inclined both because of time, and because I’ve found I don’t do as well listening to someone read.

    1. It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?! I assume it’s up to me to frame it, and then choose a perfect spot to hang it. If I had a writing nook I’d hang it over that, but I tend to write on the couch.

      I don’t view audiobooks as an alternative to actually reading when I can read, but when my hands are busy doing other things they could give me extra reading time. I hope. I’ll report back on how it goes. Commuting time would be great for audiobooks, but I already use it for reading Latin.

  2. That’s a pretty picture! I don’t like audiobooks. Mostly because I’m deaf, but also because when reading, I’m a flipper; I often flip back to check something, especially in books with complicated plots .. wait, who the hell is Ronnie, again? *flips* oh, him, OK, read on …

    1. I know. I love it!

      Haha, that’s a pretty good reason not to like audiobooks. The flipping thing is something that irritates me about kindles. What if I want to check out the map in the front of the book as I read? Or the family tree or character list. I know I *can* do it on a kindle, but it’s much easier with a physical book. I tend not to get too concerned if I can’t remember who all the characters are. If I don’t remember them they can’t be that important, right? 😉

    1. I know, right?! I’m still thinking about where to hang it. I would hang it over my writing desk, but I write on the couch. Perhaps in the library…

  3. I don’t really think I listen to enough audio books to have much of an opinion. It’s not them, it’s me. I don’t really seem to focus the same way listening to a book while I’m (whatever-ing.) For me, accents range from the ones I’m not consciously aware of to the ones that are more nails-on-a-blackboard, negatively aware of them every second. It’s personal preference, of course. I’d definitely listen to a sample of the audio book before I bought it.

    1. I know exactly what you mean about nails-on-the-blackboard accents. I started listening to audiobook samples yesterday, and some of the accents were so strong that after 10 seconds my husband would be screaming for me to turn it off. It’s hard enough finding a book I want to read. Now I also need it to be narrated by a voice I like… 🙁

  4. Thank you Alecia for such the nice post! I loved to create your painting very much and I like to see it on your Blog! Like every painting I do there is my heart and soul into them and isn’t easy to let them go, but I know that in your hands would be loved! You would be very happy when you receive the “Original” as tangible art gives wonderful feelings! I wrote a post about it on my Blog here is the link https://yesterdayafter.com/2017/03/04/dragons-and-castles-behind-the-scene-of-a-commission-painting/
    Thank you again have a great weekend! <3 Carolina

    1. You’re welcome. I’ve added a link to your post in mine.

      Thank you again for creating such a beautiful painting for me. I can imagine it must have been hard to let go, but don’t worry–it will have a wonderful home here and will be well loved. 🙂

  5. That’s an amazing painting! How awesome!

    I’ve never tried audiobooks, and the accent’s one reason for me – even in movies and TV shows I find they can grate. But I’m also really bad at concentrating on audio – I’ve tried it for learning French, and unless I actually sit and actively listen I find I’m thinking of next week’s shopping list ten minutes in. I keep thinking they’d be a great idea, but I’d definitely have to work on my attention span!

    1. Hmm, I can see why attention span could be a problem. I’m terrible at multi-tasking, and tend to focus one-pointedly on whatever I’m doing, so I can totally see myself doing housework while listening to an audiobook and not hearing a word of it. But maybe that’s something I can train myself on. 🙂

  6. Awww poor grating American accents! I have never been able to handle audiobooks but I suppose it is the ultimate way of being able to read do something else simultaneously…like drive!

    1. Don’t mock! The pain of listening to an American accent is real. 🙂

      Driving is definitely one of the first things that came to mind, but I currently read Latin on my commute.

  7. What a beautiful painting! 😀

    I haven’t tried audiobooks. I suspect I wouldn’t have the attention span for listening, and I’d hate to rewind if I missed something. Ooh, accents, they’re such a peeve. What’s worse to me than a genuine American accent is a fake foreign accent. I don’t know if this is common in audiobooks, probably not, but I’m currently playing Deus Ex – Mankind Divided where half the voice actors are faking a Czech accent. Ow, ow, ow.

    1. Omg, fake Czech accents. That sounds terrible! I have no idea if voice actors try to do accents in audiobooks, but I really hope not! (As well as being ghastly to listen to, that could come out as really offensive.)

  8. That painting is seriously cool. I have jealousy issues right now. It’s going to bug me all week that I don’t have a painting of myself in a wonderfully fictional setting. I might just have to get one commissioned too!

    Audiobooks: awesome when you have a lot of housework/ironing to do because you’ve neglected it so long. I usually find after a chapter or two I’ve zoned out the accent and just listen to the story. But it depends. Some are really bad. The hardest thing for me is the slooooow speed, I read way faster than an audiobook. Obviously. But it does take some adjusting to just settle into the story and accept it will take triple time to listen to.

    1. Haha, you should get your own painting!

      That was my idea with the audiobook–anything that encourages me to do housework is a good thing. I did wonder how much of an irritation the speed would be. I read quickly, and I was browsing some audiobooks that ran for 30 or so hours. That’s a reeeally long time. Clearly they’re long books, but they’re also dragged out long books. I don’t know. I’m still keen to give them a try.

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