#AudioBookBlogTour “The Tree That Grew Through Iron (Panagea Tales #1)” by McKenzie Austin

Audiobook Tour: The Tree That Grew Through Iron by McKenzie Austin

Author: McKenzie Austin

Narrator: Gerard Marquez

Length: 15 hours and 30 minutes

Series: The Panagea Tales, Book 1

Publisher: McKenzie Austin

Released: Aug. 6, 2019

Genre: Epic Fantasy

The world’s end was his beginning.

Whole chunks of earth are withering away from the mainland and falling into the sea. Natural disasters are claiming thousands of lives. Prayers are no longer answered by gods. Prayers are answered by machines and the Time Fathers of Panagea.

Nicholai Addihein, one of the eight ruling Time Fathers, struggles to save the lives of his people. After a single moment of misunderstood treason, he must also save his own.

While running from the wrath of Panagea’s other Time Fathers, Nicholai lands in peculiar company. Can a fabled immortal, a crew of societal rejects, and a silver-haired woman with a mysterious past breathe life back into a world on the brink of death?

With all of existence at stake, Nicholai and the others prepare to fight until their last breath to change the fate of Panagea. Who would ever guess that success might be just as fatal as failure?

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Like many authors, McKenzie took to writing early. She crafted numerous tales throughout childhood that served as an escape from the solitude often accompanying the inability to ‘fit in’ with the normal crowd.

The award-winning author now resides with her family in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where she draws inspiration for her fantasy novels through copious amounts of craft beer and cheese.

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Narrator Bio

Gerard got his start at an early age, performing with various Opera companies and teams throughout Australia. After moving to America as an adult he made the transition into musical theater, and voice-over. Gerard has worked with various Opera and Musical theater companies throughout southern California and LA. Gerard has been working as a narrator now for the last couple of years, and was incredibly honored and excited, when McKenzie Austin approached him to work on this great series.

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  1. Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook. Oh, gods. It was a peculiar mixture of terror and excitement. I had never dipped my toe in the audio pond before, not as a book lover (I prefer paperbacks) and not as an entrepreneur, either. I had no idea what to expect. I put a few scenes up on ACX, wondering if anyone would even audition. I ended up getting somewhere around fifteen auditions. Not only was Gerard the first, but man, that guy did his homework. I don’t know if it was research he did about the characters before the audition or what, but he nailed personality types on the first go. Luckily, he knew way more about the audio world than I could ever hope to know, so he was very keen on walking me through the process step by step. Hearing your words come to life like that is an indescribable feeling. I encourage other authors who are on the fence to give it a go, even if they never pull the trigger after the audition process. 
  2. Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing? Never. It didn’t even dawn on me as a possibility until whispers of the wonderful world of audio started floating around in my book marketing groups. They said it was “on the rise”. I thought I’d roll the dice on it, and give it a try. 
  3. How did you select your narrator? The other narrators who auditioned were awesome; I give huge credit to anyone willing to put themselves out there in the creative field. Ultimately, I chose Gerard because he perfected one of my more ‘animated’ characters in his sample. Many of the others who auditioned realized the characters were, for lack of a better word, ‘pirates’. Because of this, I believe they defaulted to a stereotypical gruff, baritone ‘piratey’ voice. That is not at all who Brack ‘The Rabbit’ Joney is, and Gerard managed to capture his persona. I realize it’s sort of a silly thing, since Brack is a minor character at best, but if he could dedicate that kind of accuracy to the minor cast members, there was no fear that he’d give anything less to the main characters. 
  4. How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters? Gerard had exquisite communication skills. Very timely in his responses. We didn’t talk much over the course of recording, but when we did, it was always swift, efficient, and enjoyable. We didn’t talk much about pronunciation (other than to verify how to pronounce the name of the land mass). At one point, he did reach out and ask if I wanted him to re-record his pronunciation of Chronometer, but I found his pronunciation charming, and chose to leave it. 
  5. Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing? I heard once, and I don’t remember the source, that every writer has a little bit of each character inside themselves. I believe that to be true. Since The Panagea Tales series is heavily character-based, a lot of my own feelings and psychological assessments come through in their mannerisms, but it’s always fluid. Some days, you’re a Kazuaki Hidataka, blind-raging your way through sh*t with no remorse. Other days, you’re a Nicholai Addihein, slipping into a naive state of martyrdom and kindheartedness. The feelings in the series are inspired by real life; and I’ve been told by a few readers that the content feels ‘real’, in the sense that our world is moving further and further into a depleted state. I can only hope that changes some time in the near future. I rather enjoy living here, and don’t wish to watch the world suffer. 
  6. If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the  primary roles? Oh, man. I’ve never really thought about it. Nicholai would need to be played by someone who captures that naive willingness to do ‘good’. I think Tom Welling would do an excellent job; he was great at it in Smallville. Emma Watson would be a wonderful Umbriel; her kind heart exudes through her in a really compelling way. And Kazuaki? If Hugh Jackman played Kazuaki, I would have a gods-damned heart attack. Hugh-freaking-Jackman. UGH. Is there nothing he can’t do? How does one man manage to single-handedly be an authoritative badass while still wearing a thin veil of empathy on the surface of his expressions? Hugh Jackman is amazing! (Is my husband reading this? Don’t mind my gushing, handsome face, you know I love you.) 
  7. What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”? I never fully understood people who put time and energy into ripping apart the preferences of others. Is driving a car to work ‘cheating’ because we have legs to walk? Is writing on a laptop ‘cheating’ because pencil and paper have been around for far longer? We live in a technology-based world, where luxuries are constantly evolving. There are people out there who want to make our lives easier through new avenues of exploration. Audiobooks still spark imagination, the same as any eBook or paperback. If anything, I think it breathes new life into a story, the same as a film adaptation would, or turning a series into a graphic novel. It’s just a different way to enjoy something – and you’d have to be a pretty big dick to want to deprive someone of joy. 
  8. How did you celebrate after finishing this novel? I bought a bottle of wine that I had no business buying, because no normal human being on a budget would ever spend what I spent on something that was going to be consumed in the blink of an eye… It must have stared at me in the wine rack for weeks while I neared the end of the novel. When I finished, I opened that bugger and drank the entire thing. The hangover was worth it.
  9. Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams? No. I wish they would. They’re probably like, “Ugh, we spend enough time with this chick anyway, we don’t need to see her in her dreams at night, too.” To be fair, they’re probably wise to steer clear of my dreams. An unleashed, unpredictable imagination can be a terrifying place to be. 
  10. What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors? Do it. Do the thing. Put it on that digital paper, my friend. Take it one step at a time. When you have it down, and edited, and polished, publish it. Send it out, or do it yourself. Either way. Is it frightening? Unequivocally. Will you lose sleep at night after you receive your first bad review? Without a doubt. Will it all be worth it? Whole heartedly. What an experience it is, to write a book, and to have people read it. Forever and always, you’ll be able to hold it in your hands and say, “I did this. I was brave enough to do this.” That’s not something a lot of people can say. And even if nobody else in your life thinks you should, I want you to know that I believe in you. I believe in dreamers. You can do this. If you’re courageous enough to take that first hard step, I’m already your biggest fan. 

 

 

 

Top 10 List

McKenzie Austin’s Top 10 Songs that Inspired Her Work

Music is incredibly inspiring. I’ve listened to my fair share of tunes while writing The Tree That Grew Through Iron (actually, the whole of The Panagea Tales series, really) and there are certainly a few that stand out as having been played on ‘repeat’ during several scenes.

  1. Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise by The Avett Brothers – This is/was the very mantra of Nicholai Addihein. Throughout the series, he’s surrounded by this looming ‘darkness’, and it takes many different forms depending on which book you’re on, but he always holds fast to this (often times idealistic) dream that he can make things better for everyone. He wants so badly to do what’s ‘right’, but must come to the realization that what’s right for some will never be what’s right for all. This song is actually what inspired the title for the final book in the series (The Canary That Sang to the World).
  2. The Sound of Silence by Disturbed – This particular song resonated more with book two in the series (The Gods Who Harvested Men) but the message still applies to The Tree That Grew Through Iron. ‘Silence like a cancer grows’ is, perhaps, the strongest line. Things deteriorate as far as they do because we’re often too scared to speak up and change the circumstances. Nicholai is so desperate to help everyone, to ‘reach them’, but the outcome of his efforts often fail to yield the results he hopes for. The most admirable thing is that he keeps trying, regardless of how often he fails.
  3. Pompeii by Bastille – This song encapsulates the entirety of the series, but touches The Tree That Grew Through Iron in a far more literal way. Everything around the primary cast is changing. The physical landscape of Panagea, their mental endurance to continue fighting for a revolution, their emotional reactions to their circumstances… but through everything, through all of the shifts and challenges and obstacles, at the heart of it all, one thing hasn’t changed at all. Camaraderie runs deep, and is a critical component of their interactions with one another.
  4. Leave a Light On by Tom Walker – I know these are supposed to be about The Tree That Grew Through Iron, but I can’t help falling back to songs that remind me of the series in its entirety. In book three (The Serpent That Swallowed Its Tail) this song really resonated with me, as several of our characters let their obsessions consume them in a rather unfortunate way. There’s always that one rock for the individual who is slipping though… the one who will ‘leave a light on’ for he or she who is lost in the dark.
  5. Lost by Coldplay – This one reminds me of Nicholai in particular, but certainly fits the bill of the crew, as well. “Just because I’m losing doesn’t mean I’m lost.” And poor Nicholai, he loses. Quite a bit. His good intentions often blow up in his face, but he gets right back up and tries again.
  6. Radioactive by Imagine Dragons – This song paints a picture of Panagea to me. “Waking up to ash and dust” couldn’t possibly be a better fit to the world our characters are living in. The vibe captures the raw spirit of desire for a change, too. For a revolution. I love it.
  7. broken by lovelytheband – What better lyrical song to highlight the unnatural relationship of Kazuaki and Bermuda? Traditional love songs just wouldn’t do. He adores her dearly, but doesn’t know a damn thing about lovey-dovey sentiment. I like ‘broken’ because the nicest thing that’s able to be said is ‘I like that you’re broken’, which is hardly a compliment at all, but somehow, the way it’s said, you know it’s meant as a term of endearment. It’s Kazuaki and Bermuda, for sure.
  8. Long Time Traveller by The Wailing Jennys – One of the more obscure songs that reminds me of the series, but this one goes through my head each time a character dies. It also reminds me of Kazuaki’s perpetual journey to find a way to terminate his contract with immortality, so that he, too, could join those he bonded with in the afterlife. “I’m a long time traveling here below, I’m a long time traveling away from home” guts me in a way, when I think of the psychological ramifications that would stem from watching lifetimes of loved ones rise and fall.
  9. All of Me by John Legend – I feel a little silly posting so many ‘love’ songs in this list, since the few romantic relationships that exist in the Panagea Tales play a far less poignant role than the camaraderie and the general pursuit of completing the primary goal… but this is another one that reminded me of Kazuaki’s affection toward Bermuda. Maybe I enjoy them so much because he rarely puts his sentimentality on display, so it’s fun for me to think about that (almost) non-existent side of him.
  10. Someone You Loved by Lewis Capaldi – I can’t really dive into why this one represents the book(s) without ruining some pretty big moments in the story. Just know that it’s as applicable as it is heartbreaking, and that’s why it made the list.

 

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#AudioBookBlogTour “The New York Saga, Book 2” by Diana Rubino

Audiobook Series Tour: The New York Saga by Diana Rubino

Author: Diana Rubino

Narrator: Nina Price

Length: 12 hours 34 minutes

Series: The New York Saga, Book 2

Release date: May 1, 2019

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Genre: Historical Romance

It’s 1932. Prohibition rages, the Depression ravages, and Billy McGlory comes of age whether he wants to or not. Musical and adventurous, Billy dreams of having his own ritzy supper club and big band. On the eve of his marriage to the pregnant Prudence, the shifty “businessman” Rosario Ingovito offers him all that and more. Fame, fortune, and his own Broadway musical – it’s all his for the taking, despite Pru’s opposition to Rosie’s ventures.

Meanwhile, Pru’s artistic career gains momentum and their child is born. Can anything go wrong for Billy? Only when he gets in way over his head does he stop to wonder how his business partner really makes his millions, but by then it’s far too late….

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Diana Rubino writes about folks through history who shook things up. Her passion for history and travel has taken her to every locale of her books, set in Medieval and Renaissance England, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, and New York. Her urban fantasy romance, FAKIN’ IT, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society, and the Aaron Burr Association. When not writing, she owns CostPro, Inc., an engineering business, with her husband Chris. In her spare time, Diana bicycles, golfs, does yoga, plays her piano, devours books, and lives the dream on her beloved Cape Cod.

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Narrator Bio

Nina Price is a Renaissance woman: a conservatory trained musician, a Silicon Valley businesswoman, a radio personality, a licensed acupuncturist and master herbalist, and a voice actor/storyteller. She especially loves books with an element of history in them: historical novels, memoirs, biographies, although she’s narrated books in many genres. Born and raised in New York, the characters and places in the New York Saga are very familiar to her, and dear to her heart. She loves to travel the world and listen to the way people speak English.

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Q&A with Narrator Nina Price
  • When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
    • I host a morning drive radio show on a radio station in the Silicon Valley, which I’ve done for 25 years. A segment of my show each week called “Unbedtime Stories” features me reading a portion of a book by an up and coming author. When audiobooks became popular I figured that since I’d been reading stories on the radio, I should narrate audiobooks – so I started auditioning and narrating audiobooks.
  • How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
    • One day, I casually mentioned to a friend and her mother that I was interested in narrating audiobooks. The next day I got a message from my friend’s brother, one of my radio buddies, telling me that his mother heard that I was interested in narrating audiobooks and would he please tell me about his experience. He explained how the system works and what to do. I just followed his suggestions and was amazed that I got to narrate the first book I auditioned for.
  • Did you find it difficult to “break into” audiobook narration? What skill/tool helped you the most when getting started?
    • No. My friend’s suggestions helped me get started and I learned what I needed to learn as I did more books. I’ve done about 40 books to date.
  • A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
    • I don’t have a theatre background but all the actors who narrate audiobooks claim that it is essential.
  • What type of training have you undergone?
    • I completed a very intensive voice acting training at Voice One in San Francisco, several years ago and continue to hone my skills constantly working with various coaches and taking classes.
  • What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
    • During the past year I discovered that the books I love narrating the most include the element of history and romance. The audition piece was the scene with Vita meeting Theodore Roosevelt and I really enjoyed preparing that scene. I also auditioned for Bootleg Broadway and got to do that book as well. I guess the publisher thought after that I should also narrate the 3rd book: The End of Camelot.
  • How closely do you prefer to work with authors?
    • I really like to work closely with my authors. Diana Rubino and I work very well together and I’m now narrating several of her other books. I really like to pronounce names and words correctly and relied on Diana to teach me the correct “neighborhood way” to say some of the vernacular expressions in the New York Saga.
  • Who are your “accent inspirations”?
    • For the New York Saga – I grew up in New York, in Manhattan, and have listened to the way New Yorkers speak my whole life. The character voices in the New York Saga come from the way people I’ve known or have heard speak.
  • How did you decide how each character should sound in this series?
    • As I prep each book I play around with the characters voices and I find that the voices either stick or they don’t as I’m developing them. I’m more kinesthetic than visual so I notice how each character feels in my body and in that way I know where to find each voice.
  • Have there been any characters that you really connected with?
    • In the New York Saga I connected most strongly with Vita and Vikki who are the heroines of the 1st book and 3rd book, respectively. I connected with Billy, the hero of Bootleg Broadway because he’s a musician and because I spent so many hours being him. However, like his family, I had trouble connecting with some of the choices he made.
  • What’s next for you?
    • Right now I’m narrating several of Diana’s other books: For Love and Loyalty which involves King Richard III and time travel, and Fakin’ It a modern day rom com which involves what happens when a popular hero steps out of a novel and into real life.

 

 

 

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#PromoBlitz “The Moore Family Saga” by Michele Sims

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MOORE FAMILY SAGA SERIES BY MICHELE SIMS

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ACT I SEED ON FIRE

Twenty five years before the events in the novel, The Fire God Tour, Kaiden and Alicia Moore, originally from North Carolina, were enjoying a life full of love and passion.  As a young, beautiful and an upwardly mobile professional couple who had made their home in New York City, they were busy balancing their careers with the demands of their new marriage which as fate would have it, included an unexpected bundle of joy. They got pregnant on their honeymoon and so began their adventure in this novel, The Seed on Fire, a sexy contemporary romance of a multi-cultural couple with elements of fantasy that is also the prequel to the novel The Fire God Tour.

Nothing about their lives together has ever been typical and their relationship will forever be changed by a series of nightmarish events that threaten their love and the life of their unborn child. Will their commitment to each other and support of their close knit family be enough to cope with their challenges? Come and join them on their journey as they experience the joys and excitement awaiting the birth of their son, Miles Aridio Moore, a process, to their surprise, also fosters a period of significant self-growth.

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ACT II PLAYING WITH FIRE

This is the second installation of Cade and Lecia Moore’s romantic suspense story. Cade’s music career is taking off. While finishing a schedule of gigs in Paris, he gets a call from his brother Vincent back in the states, who has been watching over Cade’s son, Miles, and his wife, Lecia. Vincent has some surprising news. Miles, now seven, is showing extraordinary abilities that allow him to produce fire. As a member of the Network, a secret society with nearly bottomless resources, Vincent has been able to determine that Miles’s abilities aren’t unique but an extremely rare genetic mutation.

Cade returns to the states to be with his family, but it’s clear that life cannot go on as normal when Miles suffers from an intense illness that leaves him immobile and mute for days. Through Vincent’s Network contacts, Cade and Lecia are able to find adequate care for Miles at a facility that understands his condition.

Aside from his unusual ability, Miles shows an affinity for several other skills, from writing as a result of his extensive vocabulary, to singing and dancing. But a dark side also appears: in the notebook he uses to list new words he learns, he’s keeping a separate list—of people who he plans to make disappear.

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THE FIRE GOD TOUR

Miles Moore, baptized in the faith and raised in a spiritual family but…every thing he does isn’t Christian. Bella Wahlberg can’t save his soul but, she had the power to claim his heart.

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ABOUT MICHELE SIMS

Michele Sims is the creator of the Moore Family Saga and the Fire God Series. She loves writing hot love stories and women’s fiction with multidimensional characters in multigenerational families. She is the recipient of the2019 RSJ Debut Author Award, 2018 RSJ Aspiring Author Award and first runner up in the Introvert Press Poetry Contest for February 2018.  She is a member of the LRWA, in Charleston, SC and the From The Heart Romance Writers’ online group.

She lives in South Carolina with her husband who has been her soulmate and greatest cheerleader. She is the proud mother of two adult sons and the auntie to many loved ones. When she’s not writing, she’s trying to remember the importance of exercise, travelling, listening to different genres of music, and observing the wonders of life on this marvelous planet.

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