Inspired by a close friend whose vision is failing and a total stranger who asked When can I hearyour book? I started pondering the possibility of offering Banged-up Heartas an audiobook.
A few months ago, at a monthly meeting of the New Mexico Book Association, the program speaker, Laurie Bower, riveted my attention. Laurie, an audiobook narrator, talked about the process of producing an audiobook. I asked her for her business card and a couple of weeks later, I called her. Laurie suggested doing a fifteen-minute reading for my reaction By this time I’d started writing a second memoir and couldn’t envision taking the time to be coached on how to read an entire book -- there’s a lot to it. I emailed Laurie several pages of text that included dialogue by six characters.
Plugging my ear buds into my laptop, I listened to Laurie read. And then I asked my husband Frank to listen. “Marvelous,” he said. I agreed. Within days, I signed a contract with Laurie. “I’ll read a few chapters at a time and download them though ACX (an Audible affiliate) for you to listen to and edit,” she said. “I should have this completed by January 20thso we can meet your goal of having it out by Valentine’s Day.” I liked the idea of having the audiobook out by February 14th, the date my paperback had been published two years earlier. What I didn’t foresee was that I would be consumed with moving from our house in the village of
Galisteo into a brand new house closer to Santa Fe the month of January. By the time I completed my proof-listening, I was behind the eightball. Laurie told me that ACX would require time to put the audiobook through a process called “Quality Assurance.” In fact, it didn’t take long, but I missed my February 14thtarget by one week. On February 21st, ACX sent me a congratulatory email: “Banged-Up Heart: Dancing with Love and Lossis now on sale at Audible, and it will be available on iTunes and Amazon within the next few days.”
I’m eager to know what listeners think about the audiobook. You can post reviews on Amazon or comment on FaceBook and Twitter via my website: www.shirleymelis.com.
Feedback from one listener: “As familiar as I am with your story, I am more enthralled than ever to be hearing it read aloud. You certainly chose well in deciding on Laurie Bower. I continue to be impressed with the depth of her voice quality and with her ability to articulate clearly.”
I do not have children and yet, I don’t recall deciding not to. In my twenties, living in Greece, I became pregnant. I had stopped taking birth control pills while living apart from my Greek lover – a way of showing him I would not be sexually promiscuous while separated. When we got back together, I started again taking The Pill but, apparently, not soon enough. The would-be father, my lover, a physician who had practiced medicine in Germany, was unemployed. He talked about our having children when he could support a family financially. After the abortion, I felt grief-stricken. My feelings baffled me because I knew I had made the right decision.
A few years later, back in United States, I married a man 21 years older than I. At the outset, before we married, he made it clear that at his age – in his fifties -- he did not want children. He was haunted by memories of his first wife who, after suffering a miscarriage, succumbed to tuberculosis and died two years after their wedding. He blamed himself for her pregnancy, which he thought had weakened her, making her susceptible to TB. I did not object to his not wanting children. Nearly 35 years old, I was not aflame with desire to be a mother. “We can concentrate on your career,” he said, mindful that his would soon be waning. And we did.
Now in my seventies, I do not regret not having children of my own. Pondering the road not traveled is a futile exercise although I sometimes wonder what kind of mother I might have been. And if I’d had children, how would I have evolved? Giving my energies to my work and my husbands – I have been widowed twice – allowed me to evolve into the person I am. And now, married to a man who brought a fully formed family – three grown children and six grandchildren – into my life, I am enjoying this new chapter to the hilt. Family gatherings around holidays and in-between are special occasions because family members are scattered geographically from New York City and Chicago to Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and Santa Fe. This month we’ll be spending holidays together in Mexico, exploring Mayan ruins and doing a bit of snorkeling.
I'm Shirley Melis. You may know me as Shirley M. Nagelschmidt, Shirley M. Bessey and now, Shirley M. Hirsch. Each reflects a particular phase of my life. Banged-Up Heart is a slice of my life's journey and in telling my story, I'm giving voice to my long silent "M" by reclaiming my maiden name, Shirley Melis.