Monday, October 25, 2010

Learn by Listening by James Tate

Hello. My name is James Tate and I’m addicted to audio books on CD.

This is where you say, “Hello James. Tell us about your addiction.”

Unlike many addictions, I’m not ashamed to say that I listen to several books a week on CD while driving around in my truck. I know your probably thinking that’s a lot of time to spend in my truck. You see, my job requires me to run across town, or bolt to Beaumont, or span the bridge into Bridge City to check out a cabinet job. I drive way too much. But instead of using the time to listen to songs I’ve heard a thousand times, I catch the latest chapter of a James Patterson novel. Instead of listening to the same news, (most of it depressing anyway) I relive my nightmares with Stephen King. How many opinions can you hear on the radio about why the Cowboys need to fire their coach? (Did I just say that?) Sorry bout that, Cowboys fans. The point is, the time could be better spent listening to a book by a new author, someone I’m not sure if I want to spend ten bucks on without trying them out first. This way, if I don’t like the first chapter or two, I return the unused portion to the public library for a full refund. (Hint! It was free to check it out)

Anyway, back to the addiction thing. When I first started listening to these audio treasures, I wasn’t sure if I’d like them. Then a funny thing happened. I found them to be very engrossing. Now don’t get me wrong. My return ratio is about 50/50. Some I barely make it through a track or two, some a chapter or two, because if it gets to rambling—or just plain bogs down with too much detail, I hit the eject button faster than…than…my last rejection letter. That hurt. But the ones that make the cut can keep me entertained for miles of blacktop. *Warning* If you tend to get engrossed in a good story, the road may blur into a movie scene from the Paramount Studios in your head—you know, the place where the words from the page are converted into visions in your minds eye. Be sure and keep one eye on the road.

From a writer’s point of view, these audio books can also be great learning tools. We’ve all heard that one of the best ways to edit our work is to read it out loud. You would be amazed at how much you can learn from listening to a complete novel being read to you. Pay attention to the tone, the pace of the story. What did you like or dislike about the way it was presented? How do your scenes, characters, dialogue compare to what you’re hearing. Try it.

Okay, I said I wasn’t ashamed of my addiction, but there was this one time I sat in the Walmart parking lot for ten minutes waiting to find out if the killer was who I suspected it was. I know. I know. Pitiful! Maybe I’ll start a support group. ABA. (Audio Books Anonymous) What do you think?

James R. Tate is the author of Hot Rod Jones & the Mystery of Gut Shot Creek. He's published in print magazines, and is currently marketing his first full length adult novel while writing his second. His goal is the top of the heap, not the top of the slush pile.


  1. Ha, ha. I like to listen to audio books while I'm slogging along on my treadmill.

  2. James, you sound like me. I've sat in my carport for upwards of thirty minutes waiting to find out who dunnit. My family and neighbors think "there's that crazy woman just sitting in her car again."

  3. Great post. hearing your work oread out loud is such a great thing to do. I always ask someone to do that when going over my work. I haven't gotten i nto the audio books. I will have to tey it. Thanks.