#AudioTour “The Girl in Cabin 13: The Emma Griffin FBI Mysteries Book 1” by A.J. Rivers

Author: A.J. Rivers

Narrator: Claire Duncan

Length: 7 hours and 32 minutes

Series: Emma Griffin FBI, Book 1

Publisher: Altered Path

Released: Aug. 15, 2020

Genre: Thriller

Knock…knock…When Emma finds a dead body on her porch with her name written on the dead man’s hand, she uncovers a sinister clue to the mystery that has haunted her since childhood.FBI Agent Emma Griffin is sent undercover to the small sleepy town of Feathered Nest to uncover the truth behind the strings of disappearances that has left the town terrified.To Emma, there is nothing that can lay buried forever. Even though her own childhood has been plagued by deaths and disappearances. Her mother’s death, her father’s disappearance, and her boyfriend’s disappearance. The only cases that she hasn’t solved. Her obsession with finding out the truth behind her past was what led her to join the FBI.Now, she must face what may be her biggest case. In cabin 13, there lies an uneasy feeling. The feeling of her movements being watched. When a knock on her door revealed a body on her porch and her name written on a piece of paper in the dead man’s hand. Suddenly, her worlds collide.With the past still haunting her, Emma must fight past her own demons to stop the body count from rising.The woods have secrets. And this idyllic town has dark and murderous ones. Either, she reveals them or risk them claiming her, too.In Feathered Nest, nothing is what it seems. The girl in cabin 13 is about to find out that the dead may have secrets of their own.

A.J. Rivers loves all things mystery and thriller. Growing up in a sleepy small town, A.J. spent her days enthralled in crime solving novels and movies. She started creating stories at a young age to escape and create adventures for herself. As a child she dreamed of solving crimes and becoming a crime fighter. She dreamed of being as great as her favorite crime solving character Sherlock Holmes. While in college she realized that leading a crime fighting life might be more gruesome than she could stomach. She decided that the best course of action would be to fuse her love of writing with her love of thrilling mysteries together. She finds inspiration from researching true crimes and is passionate about writing suspenseful novels with crazy twists. Twists that you’ll never see coming. The inspiration for her first novel came when she read a news article about a missing young woman in a small town that was never found. Her question on who, what, and why brought her to her journal to discovering the dark twisted story behind the disappearance and to seek justice for the victim through her writing. Her thriller novels have elements of mystery, suspense, and romance. When she’s not absorbed in a novel or working on her next thriller mystery, her favorite past time is spent with her husky. She finds great inspiration while going on hikes with her dog.

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Narrator Bio

Claire Duncan is a multi-award winning actress living in NYC. She has performed Off-Broadway, regionally, and in national tours, and appeared in the Drama Desk nominated revival of The Threepenny Opera. She has played the lead in a dozen films, and received a Best Actress Award for her work as Rosetta in the dark comedy Rosetta’s Blues, which debuted at Cannes. As a singer, she had the honor of performing at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and toured the country as a travel host with Visit The USA. Claire’s broad career has shaped her into an exceptional and flexible voice artist. You can hear her on Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, in hundreds of national commercials, and in over thirty audiobooks. “Claire Duncan was a dynamo” – New York Stage Review “Simply side-splitting… a terrific comedic actress” – Show Business Weekly Proud member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA.

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Q&A with Author A.J. Rivers
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Yes. I’ve been fascinated by true crime, particularly serial killers and complex murder mysteries, since I was really young. I read The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers at eight years old and was hooked ever since. Being familiar with both famous and lesser known but really interesting murders and conspiracies is a major inspiration for me. The details are always different, and I put my own spin and twists and turns into it, but I love to weave in homages to actual crimes and events. My books have included inspirations from well-known killers such as Dahmer and Bundy, but also more obscure crimes and those with no resolution, such as Elisa Lam.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • Writing is my dream, and I always remind myself of that. There are definitely stressful moments, but when I find myself having a hard time, I think about how fortunate I am to have achieved “what I wanted to be when I grew up”, and how many amazing opportunities it gives me. The most important thing is just loving what I do. I get to tell myself stories all day, and that’s pretty awesome. I maintain my enthusiasm by thinking of myself as my first reader. When I’m writing, it’s like I’m telling myself the story, and I want to know what’s coming next. Even though I have thorough outlines and plans, there’s always something to discover when the moment comes to type it, whether it’s a line of dialogue or a little twist reveal.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I am an occasional audiobook listener. I love the actual act of reading, so I tend to lean toward reading the books myself, but audiobooks are great for road trips or when I’m cleaning the house. I like the performance value of it. I’m particularly fond of fun mysteries and comedies because I enjoy listening to the narrator give their spin to pacing and dialogue in those genres.
    • There’s also something really nice about the sections of an audiobook being paced so they are roughly the same length. It helps to create little digestible chunks so I can listen to a certain amount during an activity and use it to time myself.
  • If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
    • This is so much fun to think about. When I’m writing, I like to imagine how the scenes would play out if they were being done for TV or a movie, so this is something I’ve thought about before. I would cast Ronda Rousey as Emma. She has the intensity, strength, and fearlessness, but is also endearing, funny, and attractive. For Sam, I would choose Armie Hammer. He is tall and handsome, with a strength and steadiness about him that would make him a good sheriff, but also has a lovable boyish quality. I would choose Jensen Ackles as Dean for the dark, chiseled quality he has that makes him believable as someone who is scarred and hardened by his past, but also has the ability to be goofy and fun when he’s relaxed.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • I think that’s crazy! No one says it’s cheating if you watch TV when you could read the screenplay, or if you listen to music rather than play it yourself. It’s a different way of enjoying the same thing. The point of getting lost in a book is the story. Whether you’re curled up with a beaten up old paperback version or listening to a narrator while driving down the road or doing dishes, you’re still getting the story. I like to think of audiobooks as being a cousin to the great radio dramas of past generations. You can relax and let the performance give you a new perspective and appreciation of the story.
  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    • I am a major coffee lover, so I really enjoy celebrating wrapping up a book by getting out of my writing room and relaxing with a good cup of flavored coffee. I drink my coffee black all the time, and I’m usually drinking very dark, robust blends. My favorite is actually called Death Wish. So when it’s time to relax and “indulge” a little, it’s with a cup of still black, but flavored coffee. My current choice is S’mores, but we’re getting close to pumpkin season. Since the end of books is always the most intense when it comes to writing, I also love to let off steam when I’m done by bringing my dog Daisy out for a long walk and enjoying the fresh air.
  • In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
    • There is definitely a time and place for both. A stand-alone novel is a great opportunity to tell one focused, explosive story that doesn’t have to rely on any previous world-building or leave room for other books. It’s a shooting star situation. One bright moment that is contained within itself. Stand-alone is also great for much longer works. A series is all about creating a world for readers to live in. They get to know the characters like friends and family, and go on these adventures with them. It’s a blast to be able to revisit the same places, get to know the people, businesses, and little quirks, and keep up with them as time passes. It makes you want to keep coming back, so you keep reading the books. A series lets you explore big story arcs and delve deeper into the characters. But it also requires organization and attention to detail. You have to be able to come up with layered people and realistic places that readers will care about, as well as complex stories that can unfold a little at a time.
  • What’s your favorite:
    • Food
    • I don’t have one set favorite, but I love Indian food. Chana masala is my go-to. I am always in the mood for raw vegetables or fruit salad.
    • Song
    • Thriller, by Michael Jackson.
    • Book
    • Dream Boy, by Jim Grimsley
    • Television show
    • Murder investigation shows, Matlock, Murder, She Wrote, Golden Girls, and in the spirit of full disclosure, my guilty pleasure shows include Catfish and anything having to do with Halloween through holiday cooking or baking
    • Movie
    • The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Dirty Dancing, Ghostbusters, Nightmare Before Christmas
    • Band
    • Beatles. Michael Jackson is my favorite musician, I love girl groups from the 50s and 60s, disco, and 80s music
    • Sports team
    • Chicago Cubs
    • City
    • Richmond, Virginia
  • Are any of those things referenced in appearance in your work?
    • All the time. Because I have some pretty obscure tastes in some ways, I sometimes find myself having my characters reference things or make jokes and cultural references I then wonder if the readers will even get, so I have to go back and replace them with something easier to recognize. Especially when it comes to music and movies. I’m not a huge movie person and the ones I particularly love are pretty old school, so when I whip out references to Luther Heggs, I have to remind myself that probably isn’t going to ring a ton of bells.
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    • I’ll repeat the same thing that’s been said over and over, but that is so true. Write. Write. Write. Write all the time. Don’t just rely on your computer. Bring a notebook and pen around with you and write things down. You never know when you’re going to hear a phrase that inspires you, or get an idea, or even just hear a name that you like. Write it down. I also highly recommend talking through dialogue out loud. It can feel awkward at first, but the natural, believable conversations and thoughts are key to really enjoyable books. They make the characters more relatable and the action smoother. The best way to make that happen is to carry on the conversation. If you have a voice-to-text program on your computer, put it on and just talk through the conversation like you are the characters. Don’t worry about the spelling, punctuation, or accuracy at this point. Just talk it through as naturally as you can and let it come out. You can then take what you said and write it out in your draft with proper tags and action.
    • I’d also tell aspiring authors to take their writing seriously. There can be a lot of pressure to only seeing writing as art and something that can only be done in the right mood or situation. There is definitely art to good writing and crafting a book, and it’s always easier when the mood and inspiration are right, but if you are going to consistently create strong, enjoyable books, you have to see it as work. You have to work hard, get the words out even when they aren’t flowing smoothly, and be willing to edit mercilessly. The best advice I ever got was from my college professor who told me to kill my darlings. You have to be willing to not see every word you write as precious, but also fight for your voice and your vision when it’s important.
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#AudioTour “The Storyteller’s Diary” by J. Edwards Holt

Author: J. Edwards Holt

Narrator: Dean Ruple

Length: 5 hours 11 minutes

Publisher: J. Edwards Holt

Released: July 2, 2020

Genre: Fantasy; Children’s

Whether you’re looking for mystery, adventure, light-hearted laughs, or even something on the scarier side, The Storyteller’s Diary has it all! Set in the fantasy world of J. Edwards Holt’s Little Men, Big Treasures trilogy, this collection of short stories includes over a dozen tales, featuring all kinds of fantastic mythical creatures like dragons, wizards, elves, and much, much more!

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Born in North Carolina, United States, J. Edwards Holt always knew that he wanted to be a writer. After graduating high school, he attended college and pursued a degree in education, but later decided to change course and follow his dream to become a novelist and children’s author. Now a full-time writer, editor, and blogger, Holt spends his free time dreaming up stories and reading. He is passionate about spreading Christian messages through his writing, watching science fiction and super hero movies, and collecting comic books.

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Narrator Bio

I’ve loved to read for as long as I can remember, but I have been in love with the audiobook form since I was 13 years old – I was grounded for the week, but found an old Walkman cassette player and passed the time with some great books. While I have been narrating professionally for less than a year, I already have a number of titles of various genres under my belt. In addition to my work on ACX, I also have experience doing sports announcing for local teams. As a teacher of English for 8 years, I read to and with my students almost every day from a variety of genres. I submitted my first audiobook, Reecah’s Flight by Richard H. Stephens, in February of 2020, the culmination of years of dreams and work, and have been going strong since!

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Q&A with Author J. Edwards Holt
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • It was a fairly easy process. Thanks to ACX, I was able to find Dean Ruple, who helped make the process easy, and in the end did a fantastic job narrating.
  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
    • Definitely. Characters stories and the more interactive stories are much better to listen to in audio.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • Absolutely. With Audible and all the audiobook platforms out these days, it’s definitely something on every author’s mind.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • Well in this instance Dean actually approached me first, and I was very impressed with his audition so I chose him as the narrator.
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?
    • We kept in touch — and still do from time to time. Personally, I think we make a great team!
  • Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    • Yes, I do. Some of the characters’ names are difficult to pronounce, so I always send my narrators a list of pronunciations.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Much of my writing is inspired by stories and verses from the Bible, as well as other books and movies.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • It isn’t always easy. I would say that when it comes to writing, there are writing days and non-writing days. Some days I can just write away and other days I just know I’m not going to be able to get anything on the paper. So, my advice is this: if it isn’t working today, try it another day.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I do listen to audiobooks from time to time. I love the way you can just sit back and listen to the book, letting your imagination kick in and create visuals for you.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • Hard to say, but I think that Dean really brings the characters and stories to life!
  • What’s next for you?
    • I’m working on the first book of my next series.It’s a trilogy set in the same world as “The Storyteller’s Diary”.
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#BookReview “What’s That Growing in My Sour Cream?” by Brad Graber

Author: Brad Graber

Narrator: Derek Neumann

Length: 3 hours 35 minutes

Publisher: Dark Victory Press

Released: May 26, 2020

Genre: Humor

Why is a fly circling the deli? What can you learn from your dog about aging? Is Mahjong the real game of champions?If you’re a fan of David Sedaris, Erma Bombeck, or Andy Rooney, you’ll love Brad Graber’s new release What’s that Growing in My Sour Cream? – a compilation of over 70 humorous essays on the joys, challenges, and absurdities of life in America. Drawn from Graber’s blog “There, I Said It!” Graber introduces listeners to his sharp observations on everyday subjects such as Facebook friends, the odd messages stuffed into fortune cookies, and awkward man hugs. A bold new voice, Graber’s humor and wit are on full display in What’s that Growing in My Sour Cream?.

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Brad Graber writes novels because he grew up in a family where no one listened to him – so he made up stories about them. He’s the award-winning author of The Intersect and After the Fall, and writes a humor blog: There, I Said It! He currently resides in Phoenix with his husband, Jeff.

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Narrator Bio

Derek Neumann is actor and voice professional in the recording arts and sciences who has studied at both the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the British Academy’s Midsummer at Oxford’s Shakespeare program.

The musings and observations of Brad Graber’s What’s That Growing in My Sour Cream are not only humorous and entertaining but also relatable. From germs on planes to germs in the home (I think Brad’s a germaphobe! HA!), to food on cruises and holiday meals, to family dynamics and aging gracefully (or not), I found topics and situations I’ve often pondered and was encouraged to find I’m not the only person lamenting the extinction of authentic customer service.

Compiled of posts from Graber’s personal blog, this audiobook is perfect for a relaxing evening or drive. Derek Neumann’s smooth, unhurried narration felt as though I was listening to the observations of a good friend, and just as I was ready for more, the book ended.

Graber’s insight and wit remind us not only that it’s never too late, but also that we’re never truly alone.

Enjoy!

I volunteered to review this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Brad Graber. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Top 10 List
Brad Graber’s top ten reasons you will love listening to What’s That Growing in My Sour Cream?
  1. You see humor in everyday happenings
  2. You enjoy Seinfeld, David Sedaris, Erma Bombeck, and the Chicken Soup Series
  3. You think Mahjong is the true game of champions
  4. You’re curious about what your dog can teach you about aging
  5. You’re perplexed by the odd messages in fortune cookies
  6. You keep walking into your spouse
  7. You laugh at awkward man hugs
  8. You’ve gone to the theatre and experienced the big head show
  9. You’ve noticed that the medicine cabinet is now in the kitchen
  10. You enjoy pedicures
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#AudioTour “The Tribulations of August Barton” by Jennifer LeBlanc

Author: Jennifer LeBlanc

Narrator: James Oliva

Length: 4 hours 28 minutes

Series: August Barton, Book 1

Publisher: Jennifer LeBlanc

Released: Apr. 20, 2018

Genre: Humor

August Barton could never have mentally prepared himself for his freshman year of college: not only has his anxiety increased, but his parents are divorcing, his new roommate thinks Augie is the biggest nerd in existence, and his grandma, a retired prostitute named Gertie, has taken to running away from her nursing home. Augie just wants to hole up in his dorm room with his Star Wars collectables and textbooks, but Gertie is not about to let that happen. What ensues is a crazy ride including naked trespassing, befriending a local biker gang, and maybe-just maybe-with Augie defeating his anxiety and actually getting the girl.

Jennifer LeBlanc is a Multi-Award Winning, Bestselling Indie Author and Poet. Born and raised in South Dakota, she has always had a wild imagination and a knack for story-telling. When not slaying zombies in the gaming world or writing, she can be found getting lost in a good book, doing something crafty, indulging in photography, or watching movies with her husband, two cats, and long-haired chihuahua. Jennifer loves animals, poetry, music, art, and all things creative. She currently works in merchant banking and credit services while writing her next project.

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Narrator Bio

James Oliva is the creator/writer/director of the audio drama podcast What’s The Frequency? He’s also the voice of Michael Tate on audio podcast drama Greater Boston, Willard on Oak Podcast. James has also had guest appearances on ars Paradoxica, The Strange Case of Starship Iris, Seminar, Big Data, Jim Robbie and the Wanderers, The Haven Chronicles, and Radiation World. He was a finalist for a 2016 and 2017 Audio Verse Award in the acting category.

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Q&A with Author Jennifer LeBlanc
  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
    • It really depends on the writing style. Having it read out loud and brought to life is an amazing thing. Your characters become more real and the reader gets to become more immersed in your story. With that said, if the writing isn’t something that sounds good when read aloud it might not translate as well into audiobook format. This is why choosing the right narrator is so important because translating what’s in your mind and your story the way you see it in your head is difficult. Details and certain things like character quirks and the tone need to match what you are trying to convey to the reader in your story. If the writing is flat and has no life or is too bland, it will be bland and flat when read aloud. I have listened to several audiobooks with the same old monotone narrators that try to make the story interesting, but don’t, because the writing isn’t interesting or the story isn’t written in an interesting way. On the flip side of that though I have also heard ones where the narrator works wonders for even the most boring and flat writing so it goes both ways.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • Yes, I definitely anticipated getting my book made into an audiobook early on in the process. Because of this, I wrote the story the way I would want to hear it. It was like I was watching a movie in my head and when writing, I wrote how I would want the movie to play out. I thought about what reactions people would have if a character said or did something more interesting. This helped give my characters more individuality and spunk. They weren’t just people put together as a means to an end in the book. They became so much more and it’s definitely something you can hear in the audiobook.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • This part was scary because I knew what I wanted for the characters and how I wanted them to sound, but to find someone who could do them, and the story justice seemed really daunting. I did a search on the audiobook production platform and came across James Oliva’s profile. He conveniently had samples of his previous work available to listen to. I listened to each one several times and I just couldn’t believe the range he had as a voice actor. I was hooked and just knew he was the one. From there I sent an offer and he gladly accepted. I feel like it was just meant to be because I found who I believed was the perfect narrator on the first try. That never seems to happen and I feel so blessed to have worked with and to continue working with him.
  • 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?
    • For some of the lines yes, but for Augie he just had it. He sounded young and skittish and weird and that’s exactly what I wanted. It was the same with Gertie and for the most part all the others aside from a few things here and there that were easy to fix.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Yes, I have always been socially awkward and at times never really felt like I was confident or even comfortable in my own skin. This is a characteristic that I gave to my main character Augie because it stems from me and how I was at that age. I have also always had a special relationship with my grandmother and she’s been one of the most influential people in my life. I wanted to write a story that portrayed that relationship even though my grandmother is the complete opposite of Augie’s in many ways.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • I work a regular full-time job and write on the side when I have time. Most of the time my day job is so brain draining that I don’t have the mental energy to write afterwords. To remedy this, I try to wake up as early as I can and write before work. Before my brain is completely fried for the day. This isn’t always achievable, sometimes I don’t write very much, but a little at a time goes a long way. I also try to take advantage of long weekends and any time I have away from work. I like to walk my dog when it’s nice out to clear my head and get back into the right headspace for writing. I also try to write when I am feeling the most inspired, because I am one hundred percent in the moment with that thought or idea. I feel like this is when I do my best writing because I am completely consumed by the story playing out in my mind. Most of the time I get inspired by music and can sit for hours and hours and listen to song after song as I am writing. I write as much as I can as often as I can and while it may be sporadic or unscheduled it works for me.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • All of it, in my opinion the whole experience of listening to it brought so much more emotion out and so much more appeal for the characters. They become more real and relatable and I can’t thank James enough for the work he put into making my audiobook so great.
  • What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I really loved audio books as a kid because they essentially taught to me how to read better and how to pronounce words that I didn’t know how to. They helped me understand the tone and get into the story better. I would always get the cassette tapes from the library and then follow along with the physical book. I still listen to them here and there on occasion without the physical books. Some of them are great and others don’t grab my attention as well. It really depends on the narrator. I don’t listen to audiobooks very much anymore, but I do like them.
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    • Talk to other authors if you can and connect with the writing community, whether it be local or reaching out online. Having the support of other people in the same boat helped me immensely through this process. The knowledge and advice of other readers, writers, and authors is invaluable whether it’s good or bad. Everything helps. Learn as much as you can. Do research on self-publishing and traditional publishing and most importantly READ! To become a good writer, you must first become a good reader.
  • Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
    • Be diligent in selecting your narrator and make sure they will be a good fit for your book. Also be patient with your narrator, once you have chosen one, because they have a lot more work they have to do behind the scenes than we see or know about. There’s a lot that goes into recording and editing the content in your book. It’s a process and it takes time. It’s not an easy feat by any means and is more than worth it in the end.
  • What’s next for you?
    • Publishing book two in the August Barton Novella Series titled, The Revelations of August Barton. Once the paperback and ebook are out, James has graciously accepted the task of narrating the audiobook for this one as well. I can’t wait to dig in and get it out there for all the readers and listeners. Once Revelations is released, I plan on doing more author events around where I live and doing some more marketing.
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#AudioTour “The Unseen Blade” by Ambrose Zack Adams

Author: Ambrose Zack Adams

Narrator: Ivan Andres Ley

Length: 11 hours and 23 minutes

Publisher: Kinetic Grappling

Series: The Serpent’s Heir, Book 1

Released: Jun. 11, 2020

Genre: Dark Fantasy

When Lucian Draco becomes the youngest person to ever be accepted into the Valiant Minds School of Magic, the fact that magic even exists at all is as much knowledge as he has on the subject. After a lifetime of being sheltered by his father, Lucian is more than ready to learn where he fits into the magical community…but the answer is more complicated than he’s prepared for. Thrust into a new world of competitions and rivalries, fast friends and faster enemies, Lucian soon discovers he’s no ordinary mage – he’s the living host of a long-dormant spirit called the Dragon of the Mind, born with power and intelligence beyond his wildest dreams. But there’s a reason Lucian’s father kept the truth of this power hidden from his own son, and it’s not the only secret being kept. With supernatural threats looming on the horizon, including a bloodthirsty vampire aching to restart an ancient war, getting through school is about to become the least of Lucian’s worries.

From the time Ambrose Adams was a child, he enjoyed emerging himself in the worlds of fantasy and sci-fi. When reading books, watching television shows or movies, the mysterious worlds and creatures captivated Ambrose’s young mind and left him anticipating the next new realm. While continuing to be an avid reader through his adulthood, Ambrose started to have ideas of new worlds, characters, and stories for books of his own. However, he loathed writing, which made him hesitant and unsure of where to start. After 2 years of research, writing, revisions, more writing, and editing Ambrose wrote his first book – The Unseen Blade Book 1 of the Serpent’s Heir. He is looking forward to the doors this experience has opened and has already started writing the next book. When not engaging in his newfound hobby of writing or spending time with his wonderful family, Ambrose enjoys exercising, gaming, and training. He runs a successful Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school in College Station, TX. He was born and raised in Indianapolis, IN.

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Narrator Bio

Audio book narrator Ivan Andres Ley was born in 1992 and grew up in McKinney, Texas. From his earliest days, Ley’s parents and grandparents instilled a love of reading and a love of listening to others read aloud. He still remembers vividly the times he was sent to dreamland by his grandmother’s readings of Dr. Suess and sitting wide-eyed listening to his father read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe from C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Ley’s thirst for reading was never sated, and before long he began to read to others, beginning as early as elementary school by reading to his younger brothers. His love of storytelling and the performing arts led him to study music and stage craft, and he holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Houston. Ley currently teaches music and performs in operas professionally, but he never forgot his love of reading aloud for others. The Unseen Blade, Book 1 of The Serpent’s Heir is Ley’s first professionally published audio book. He hopes you will enjoy it and look forward to more audio books narrated by him soon.

Q&A with Author Ambrose Adams
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • This is kind of a fun story because I didn’t plan on making an audiobook. During a DND (Dungeons ‘n Dragons) session, I was telling my group about my book. I was telling them how I was wrapping up and getting ready to publish in a couple months. My buddy Ivan, the Ranger of our party, who is an opera singer, said how he would love to get into audiobook narration. I said I would love to have my book in audio, and that I would do it; but I’m terrible. He did a copy accent for me, and the rest is history.
  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
    • Not really. I’ve listened to self-help books, mysteries, to low fantasy to high fantasy. Whether you like the writing or not, that is what keeps you engaged. And how well the narrator can bring that writing to life.
  • 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?
    • Initially I was closely involved with the narration process. I constantly gave feedback on the characters, how they should sound, and how I wanted the characters to be performed. Ivan went with my suggestions and then kind of created his own performance. Which was extremely cool because I got to be like the rest of the listeners – hearing a performed rendition of the book for the first time.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • Yes, I love audiobooks. Audiobooks is actually what got me back into reading. My first audiobook was The Hunger Games. I love the fact that I can listen and read. While I’m driving, doing yard work, and any other type of physical activity I can listen. It takes me to another world.
  • If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
    • I have an idea of what the characters would look like, but the problem is the ages. Some of them would be too old to play the characters.
    • Ricky Whittle is an actor I had in mind for Lucian who is the main character. He is the main actor on the tv show American Gods. He has the look and build similar to Lucian; but, unfortunately he is a little old to play the character.
    • Chole Grace Maretz as Anna. Her portrayal in the movie Kick-Ass is something that fits a character like Anna throughout the whole story. Again, she might be too old to play the part; but, you know how Hollywood is.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • I’ve heard this and think it’s kind of crazy. It just depends who you are and what you prefer. My wife hates listening to audiobooks, and it’s actually harder for her to gather all the information through audio. Everyone absorbs material differently.
  • Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
    • No, however I have found myself thinking about different characters and the different decisions they would make – when I’m driving, watching tv, shopping to flesh out character development.
  • What’s your favorite:
    • Food – Pizza
    • Song – So Beautiful – Musiq Soulchild
    • Music Artist – Jay-Z
    • Book – The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
    • Television show – The Boys – on Amazon
    • Movie – a tie between The Matrix and Avengers End Game
    • Sports team – Indiana Pacers
    • Hobby – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
  • Are any of those things referenced in appearance in your work?
    • Combat sports is a definite influence. I used jiu-jitsu techniques to help me in writing the fighting sequences.
  • What’s next for you?
    • I am currently working on book 2 of The Serpent’s Heir. I am finishing up the final act of the story and getting ready to send it to editing.
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#AudioTour “Twelve Mile Bank” by Nicholas Harvey

Author: Nicholas Harvey

Narrator: Kim Bretton

Length: 7 hours and 57 minutes

Publisher: Harvey Books, LLC

Series: AJ Bailey Adventure Series, Book One

Released: Aug. 13, 2020

Genre: Suspense

AJ Bailey was destined to run a dive boat on the beautiful island of Grand Cayman, the Mecca of Caribbean SCUBA diving.As a young girl in England she was captivated by a story her Navy veteran grandfather told. Now, as she’s closer than ever to discovering the long-lost submarine from the story, a wealthy Argentinian arrives; a treasure hunter who’ll stop at nothing to steal the prize.Can AJ find the wreck in time?Or will the Argentinian hunter and his ruthless crew beat her to it?It’s a race against time at treacherous depths to uncover the real secret of the lost submarine.

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Raised in England, working in America and heading for Grand Cayman. That encapsulates Nicholas Harvey’s career that’s been dominated by motorsports from an early age as a driver, then race engineer, to senior manager at the top level of motor racing in the States. Poised in the background has been a second career in writing that flourished into his debut novel, Twelve Mile Bank, the first of the AJ Bailey adventure series which combines a passion for diving, an obsession with military history and a love of the Cayman Islands. Nick and his wife Cheryl can be found touring the world in search of adventure on motorcycles, mountains and dive boats.

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Kim is an accomplished and award winning actress and director with West End/Broadway theatre credits. Kim has narrated over 35 audiobooks and counting. She is also an in demand voice over talent in the commercial and corporate arena and owns her own class A recording studio in Nashville. Kim is from the UK but has lived in NYC, L.A. and now Nashville TN. She continues to work in Theatre, Film and TV as an actress and a director alongside narrating audiobooks and commercial voice overs.

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Q&A with Narrator Kim Bretton

When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?

After a lifetime in the theatre and TV both acting and directing and

also being married to a music producer and songwriter and

having built 4 recording studios it seemed the natural

progression!

How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to

maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?

I only narrate excellent books! I have really enjoyed every single book

I’ve ever narrated – so that helps. Twelve Mile Bank was easy to

get enthusiastic about. I couldn’t put it down and ended up

finishing the reading ahead of schedule!

Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook

format appeals to you?

I am. So I know how a narrator can make or break a book. I also

understand that different narration styles appeal to different

people and it would never do if we were all the same.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an

audiobook?

I love reading and being lost to a whole new world and I love a good

story. So letting the story unfold is always a treat. I love to chat

with authors about characters and find voices for them – that is

hugely creative. The characters become friends. The editing and

mastering process can be rather tedious but I have strategies to

make it a little more interesting.

What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?

Characterization and timing – particularly comedic.

Is there a particular genre you feel unsuited for? Have you ever

declined a project because you didn’t think you were right for it?

I once declined a lovely book about the wines and vineyards of Italy.

Looking up the correct pronunciations of all the Italian words was

hurting my brain and taking the flow out of the reading.

What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?

Great writing, exciting story – well defined characters and a genre I

hadn’t yet explored. I was completely taken in. I fell in love with

AJ and the gang and Nick’s stunning descriptions of Cayman. I

now want to go diving! Nick has promised he and Cheryl will take

me one day!

How closely do you prefer to work with authors?

I work really closely. I even now consider a few the authors I’ve

worked with friends and we chat outside of work.

The connection between author and narrator is intimate and intense. It

is a privilege to be chosen to read someones work and a task I

don’t take on lightly. An author bares their soul through their

words. I am in awe of that and always do my best to honour and

respect their work. I do my absolute best to exceed their

expectations.

How did you decide how each character should sound in this

title?

Nick and I chatted on the phone extensively before I started. We

discussed character traits, accents, ages and tone. Nick sent me

character descriptions and photographs. They helped

immensely. And we continued to tweak as I progressed with the

work.

What types of things are harmful to your voice?

Not enough sleep and dehydration. And an afternoon doing death

groans and attack yells for a video game…

How does audiobook narration differ from other types of

voiceover work you’ve done?

I spend a lot of my day doing corporate narration and commercials so

my books are the treaty part of my day.

Do you read reviews for your audiobooks?

Yes. And I feel pride when they’re good and a bit sad if I disappointed someone.

If so, which ones stand out to you most, positive or negative?

Picking up a series when another narrator started it can be a

challenge. Listeners expect you to copy the performance of the

previous narrator and that’s not possible.

Who is your “dream author” that you would like to record for?

I’d love to do a Phillip Pullman book.

If you could narrate one book from your youth what would it be

and why?

I always wanted to record The Winter of Enchantment by Victoria

Walker as it was my favourite book as a child. I reached out to

the author and she let me do it! That was a dream come true.

Both Neil Gaiman and Garth Nix had also loved that book as

children and they both gave me lovely shout outs.

What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as

“cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?

I’ve had someone say this to my face when I told them what my job

was. Being read to is a lovely gift. It allows you to rest your eyes

or clean the kitchen or endure a long journey or fall asleep.

Accept the gift….You’re still reading the book! It still counts!! So

much effort, care, creativity and love goes into producing an

audiobook.

What bits of advice would you give to aspiring audiobook

narrators?

Be prepared to kiss your social life goodbye and spend your days in a

cupboard talking to yourself.

What’s next for you?

Right now a Regency Romance, next a Horror and after that book 8 in

a series I love and after that three hilarious Chick Lit rom coms in

a row. I bloody LOVE my job!

Bonus question: Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording

studio?

I keep a file of my favourite outakes. It mainly consists of burps,

hiccups, jump scare screams as someone opens my booth door

while I’m in the middle of reading, trying and failing to say

“grasped” and “clasped” and one of my favourite moments was

failing to say “championing them”. It took me about 30 tries and I

was crying by the end. Ooh and recently I was narrating book 6

in a series and the author killed off one of my favourite

characters. Through tears I cursed him. I sent him the outtake

and he found it so funny it’s now his ringtone!

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#AudioTour Alexandra’s Riddle” by Elisa Keyston

Author: Elisa Keyston

Narrator: Blair Seibert

Length: 5 hours and 52 minutes

Series: Northwest Magic, Book 1

Publisher: Elisa Keyston

Released: Jul. 22, 2020

Genre: Romantic Fantasy

Lose yourself in the magical forests and charming towns of the Pacific Northwest, where picturesque Victorian homes hide mysteries spanning decades, faeries watch from the trees, and romance awaits…for those bold enough to seek it. Cass is a drifter. When she inherits an old Queen Anne Victorian in rural Oregon from her great-aunt Alexandra, all she wants is to quickly offload the house and move on to bigger and better things. But the residents of the small town have other plans in mind. Her neighbors are anxious for her to help them thwart the plans of a land developer eager to raze Alexandra’s property, while a mysterious girl in the woods needs Cass’s help understanding her own confusing, possibly supernatural abilities. And though little surprises Cass (thanks to her own magical powers of prediction), she never could have anticipated her newfound feelings for the handsome fourth-grade teacher at the local elementary school — feelings that she thought she’d buried long ago. Cass has sworn off love, but Matthew McCarthy is unlike anyone Cass has ever met. If she isn’t careful, he could learn her secret. Or worse — he just might thaw her frozen heart. But falling in love could spell danger for both of them. Because it’s not just the human residents of Riddle that have snared Cass in their web. Cass’s presence has caught the attention of the fae that dwell in the woods. They know she has the Sight, and they don’t want to let her go….

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Elisa Keyston is an author of sweet romance with hints of magic, intrigue, and suspense. She was the series lead for the first season of The Pioneer Brides of Rattlesnake Ridge, a shared-world historical romance series from Sweet Promise Press, and she’s also the author of the Northwest Magic series from Crimson Fox Publishing, a sweet contemporary romance series with a touch of magic and mystery set in her home state of Oregon. She’s a graduate of Sonoma State University with a degree in history, which inspired her love of historical fiction and modern stories set in historic places. When she’s not writing, Elisa spends most of her time gardening, collecting gnomes and fairies for her backyard, and fawning over her furbabies.

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Narrator Bio

Blair Seibert is a voice actor in Los Angeles. She provides voiceovers for non-fiction and fiction audio books, TV and radio commercials, online marketing videos, corporate training videos, phone messaging systems and more! Her voice has been called “magical,” soothing and reassuring at the same time. Her voice is warm, emotive, friendly and engaging and portrays a diverse range of characteristics, from corporate to “motherly” to sultry. She is enthusiastic, professional, and easy to work with, and strives to deliver services that exceed her clients’ expectations.

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Q&A with Narrator Blair Seibert
  • How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
    • Honestly, I got into voice acting with the goal of doing commercials or training manuals, not audio books. I enjoyed listening to and learning from audio books, but I didn’t know if I’d have the skills and stamina required to bring an author’s characters to life. Then while I was working with an agent on a commercial project, he said, “Have you done any audio books? Your voice is perfect for romance.” I wondered if that was a come-on line, but at that time I was getting frustrated and stressed over having to schedule my life around commercial auditions which were often posted on the East Coast when I live on the West Coast, so I thought, why not? And shocking to me, I won the first audition I submitted for a romance novel. So, maybe that wasn’t a pick-up line after all.
  • 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 believe a theater background is essential for success. But having a natural talent for telling stories is definitely a plus. The best narrators, even those with formal acting training, hone their craft by continuing to take acting and improv classes and workshops to stay fresh. So, what I do think is essential is constantly practicing and learning more about the craft as a whole.
  • What type of training have you undergone?
    • I’ve had voice training as well as live acting and improv lessons. I’ve done a lot of online training to learn about the audio recording software that I use to record myself from my recording studio. I’m not naturally a techie, so the computer training has been as intensive as the others.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?
    • It’s interesting you ask that because for every finished hour you hear there is between 6 to 8 hours of work. I read the entire book once before any recording begins. I mark up speakers and note tongue-twisters that might trip me up as well as making sure I know how to pronounce every name and word in the story. Finally there’s recording and editing it. It takes a focus and stamina to keep the enthusiasm going because if you’re not at the same “level” of enthusiasm in a book, your voice won’t sound the same in the last chapter as it does in the first. It helps if I really like the book, but there’s no time to read an entire book prior to auditioning. If the “snippet” they’ve selected seems like a good fit for my voice and interests, I have to go for it and hope for the best. In the end, I live with a book for quite awhile, so I try to be very selective. I keep burn-out at bay also by only working on one project at a time and taking a day or two break between them if possible.
  • What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?
    • My favorite part is reading the books and developing the characters’ voices in my head for the first time. My least favorite part is going back into the audio and replacing sections where I may have missed a word or something sounds wrong. Your voice is affected by foods you eat, the amount of sleep you’ve had, so getting back into character and making and edits sound seamless can be very time consuming.
  • Is there a particular genre you feel unsuited for? Have you ever declined a project because you didn’t think you were right for it?
    • Because my voice has a smooth, sometimes motherly tone, having much “sinister” or “evil” sounding dialogue would strain my voice, so I don’t seek work in that genre. I have declined and always will projects with non-consensual sex (or even fantasies about them) or anything with child exploitation. After working as a building architect for 20 years, a male dominated profession, I’ve experienced the discomfort of an unequal boss/employee relationship, so I won’t do work with that in the storyline as well.
  • How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
    • In order to quickly change from one voice to another I have to “build” the character as I’m reading the book. It’s very helpful if the character reminds me of anyone I know or know of, like a celebrity. For main characters I spend a bit more time getting to know them so I can embody them more believably. One tool is writing what a “Day in the Life Of” the character would be. What do they eat? What do they do? Where do they go? All these things help me develop my characters. Often the character’s voice change is not as important as the attitude change.
  • Do you read reviews for your audiobooks?
    • Yes, I make it a point to read reviews because I appreciate the time it takes people to submit them. I want readers to know their time and efforts matter. I also look at life as a place we must always continue to learn. So, I’m looking for all kinds of feedback.
  • What type of the review comments do you find most constructive?
    • I think it’s helpful to learn if the listener enjoyed the story itself, the author’s work, or if there was anything in particular they found confusing. If a listener found anything about the narration “intrusive,” then I’d like to know so that I can work on that part of my delivery. If I helped the listener escape and forget that one person is “acting” like all the characters, then I’ve done my job.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • The only “cheating” I think happens with listening to books as opposed to real reading is “cheating the clock.” Since I don’t have time to sit down and read all the books I’d like to, being able to listen to some of them makes me a happier and more knowledgeable person. My father, has been an avid reader for his entire life and my sister recently loaded a library app on his phone and he has been shocked at how much fun it is. He still reads hard copy books during the daytime when the light is good. And he listens at night to other books…says it beats everything he sees on television without a doubt. So, for any “doubters” I always say, “Just try it. I think you might be surprised.”
  • Bonus question: Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?
    • I recently purchased a heavier, more-sound absorbing recording booth. The door almost has to be slammed to get it to seal shut. After setting it up and trying it out, I was glad I had a friend outside the booth because after testing it for sound quality, I wasn’t able to get out! Thank goodness he was there and could help me open the door. While I never used to take my phone in the booth I do now along with a phone charger in case I need to call someone to let me out.
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#AudioTour “Meatspace” by Asa Tait

Author: Asa Tait

Narrator: Christopher Harbour

Length: 7 hours and 49 minutes

Publisher: The Parliament House

Released: Jul. 13, 2020

Genre: Science Fiction

“In his pursuit of the occult, the Third Reich opened the Gate to a realm of magic and brought the world to ruin. The Gate was eventually closed, but they were already in our world, and they were hungry.” (The Lost History, Library of Avergard)Azure “Azzy” Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic, where humans have retreated underground from the overwhelming dangers of the surface. But Below is no safer than Above. Magic-borne plagues continue to eat away at the remaining human cities – a sickness that doesn’t merely kill, but creates aberrations from the stricken. People twisted by magic into something dark, dangerous, and powerful. It is an existence of fear and constant dread.When Azzy’s brother Armin is infected and cast out into the Above, she sets out after him, determined to be there for him, no matter what he becomes. The world Above is full of monsters, both wild and cunning, some more human than Azzy was led to believe.Armin is captured and bound for the auction block of Avergard – a ruthless city of inhuman lords and twisted creatures. To reach him, Azzy must brave the perils of the Above and the chaotic life forms created by the Gate. To reach him, she must find allies and forge new bonds in this broken world. And Azzy must reach him, before Armin’s new power is used to open the Gate once more.



Asa is a writer, visual storyteller, and Head of Production at LEGO Entertainment. He grew up on a raspberry farm in central Pennsylvania, and went on to write comic books, direct for television, and work in interactive and narrative with the USC WorldBuilding Lab and the Institute for Creative Technology. Asa lives in Hollywood with his wife and daughter.

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Chris Harbour has been an avid reader his entire life, so it was natural to enter into the world of audiobooks. While in the military Chris would travel to visit his wife and family in his free time and listen to audiobooks on the long drives home. It wasn’t until Chris was in his final year of obtaining his Bachelors of Science in Psychology, in 2017, that his wife suggested that he take a chance and start narrating audiobooks. Chris loves that his work can bring books to life and bring them to a new platform for others to enjoy. In Chris’s spare time he enjoys scuba diving, home improvement and spending time with his beautiful wife.


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A Q&A with Asa Tait
  1. Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format? 

Meatspace is first person, and I think that does lend itself to the audiobook format because it’s written as someone very directly telling you a story, and the audiobook is just that – someone telling you a story. It also gives the narrator some more space to perform, because all of the text is effectively in character.

  1. Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing? 

This was my first novel, and I hadn’t even considered the possibility of an audiobook. Now that it’s happened, though, I’ll certainly be thinking about it next time, as it has become such a key piece of how people experience books these days.

  1. How did you select your narrator?

I worked with the fabulous folks at Parliament House to select someone from their top choices. I come from the film industry and am no stranger to casting, but this was a very different experience. Listening to the auditions and seeing that someone can not only hit the character notes but also really convey the rhythm of the writing – its a unique skill. Chris hit this great tone that I was searching for with my main character, Jim Chord. He could play the grizzled detective, but with this deep vulnerability underneath, where you can feel that the tough guy noir schtick is just that – an act.

  1. How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?

At the moment in the middle of CoVid and everything else that’s going on, the honest answer is that I don’t. Like most everyone else I think I’m walking burnout, just trying to keep shambling along. That said, when I DO pull it together to write it feels amazing, and if I can stay in that groove for a bit it really fills up my soul. But even then, I don’t put too much pressure on myself about it. At the moment I think if we all just put one front of the other, help each other, and survive, we’re doing plenty.

  1. Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you? 

I love audiobooks, but really only on road trips. I don’t have a car commute, so I just don’t have a natural place in my life for things like audiobooks and podcasts that a lot of people do on their hour plus commutes. But my family recently rented a camper van and drove from Los Angeles to Nashville, and we were audiobook wild. That was great. Maybe it come from road trips with my Dad as a kid. I remember listening to the audiobooks for all the Hitchhiker’s Guide books with him, and that really left a mark.

  1. What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?

I think that’s completely unfair. We don’t read as a literacy program, to prove that we can see words on a page and extract meaning. We read to immerse ourselves in characters and worlds, or to learn about things we did not know. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at the words or hearing them, you’re still taking in the book. And heck, I’m not one of those people who can glance across a page and take in the words as a mass. I’m only just the faster side of reading it aloud to myself in my head, so it’s not that different from an audiobook anyway.

  1. What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump? 

In both cases it’s switching formats. When I’m in a writing slump on one project I’ll swap to another, just to get my head clear, and often a few days of that and the answer to whatever wall I was running into will just spring into my head. With reading, I tend to go through phases with my media. I’ll go a couple months as a voracious reader, and then drop a book in the middle and spend a few months watching movies in all my spare time, or playing video games, or reading comic books (which is a different experience than reading prose). And then it will go back to books. It just goes in cycles.

  1. Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?

None of the characters in Meatspace, but I have dreamt about the city itself, the Outside, which has this fluid constant motion that is inhospitable humans. I’ve wandered around that space in my dreams a few times. I’m also working on a comic book project right now that is entirely pulled from a series of dreams I had. It started with a nightmare about these Harpy creatures and then over a few nights this little world just grew up around them, and I started putting it compulsively down on paper.

  1. What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Don’t give up! If you can write every day, that’s great. The more you write the sooner you can rewrite. But life is hard, and just because you can’t write every single day, or even every week, doesn’t mean you can’t write. Do what you can, when you can, and keep plugging away. The beauty of writing is its one of the arts that doesn’t require anyone but yourself. You don’t need millions of dollars, or to cast actors, or to pull together a band. You just need you and your belief in yourself. 

  1. What’s next for you?

As I mentioned, I’m working on a comic book limited series, and as I also mentioned my work on it has been spotty since the world has been falling apart. But it comes in fits and starts, and I’m really very happy with it, and that’s the thing that drives me forward. I’m also working on another novel – a teen sci-fi horror – but that’s what I switch to when I get stuck on the comic, so it’ll be a while.


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#AudioTour “Toro” by Andrew Avner

Toro is the story of a cow who wants to run like a bull in Pamplona.

Author: Andrew Avner

Narrators: Brad Raider, George Spielvogel, Malili Dib, Yolanda Corrales, Leila Cohen, Andrew Avner

Length: 2 hours and 57 minutes

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Released: Jun. 26, 2020

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

ToroA story that evokes beloved films such as Babe and Ratatouille.Alicía Catalina Cortés is a fast and fiery Spanish cow who desperately wants to run with the bulls in Pamplona – but since she’s a cow, tradition forbids her to partake in the fiesta of San Fermín. Through her journey, Alicía learns that to be noble and brave, she must follow her dream and her heart, even if it means defying tradition.Toro is set in the colorful backdrop of Pamplona, Spain during the fiesta of San Fermín and the running of the bulls, famed as one of the most exhilarating, dangerous, and spectacular events around the world.

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Andrew Avner graduated with honors from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Television. After working in Manhattan with Academy Award-winning producer David Brown, Avner relocated to Los Angeles to develop his own original material. He’s currently writing and producing short films for The Walt Disney Company while penning his next novel.

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Narrator Bio

Brad Raider (Narrator) Brad Raider is an actor, filmmaker, and meditation teacher living in Los Angeles. In addition to Toro, he’s voiced video games, cartoons, and industrials. His award-winning feature film, Kensho at the Bedfellow, is streaming free on Amazon Prime: https://amzn.to/345rhXD.

George Spielvogel (Don Murciélago Cortés, Jesús de los Jabalíes, Montie, Junior, Slim, Santiago, The Veedor, The Ganadero, Gallito, Zurito, The President of the Bullring) George Spielvogel, also known as MC Whack, has been performing for audiences since childhood. While still in his early teens, he starred in a touring children’s theatre group and went on to earn degrees from both the Meisner Studio and the Strasberg Institute at New York University. Spielvogel was the creative producer on the hit staged parody Point Break Live. He continues to produce independent content and work as a voice-over actor in Los Angeles.

Malili Dib (Alicía Catalina Cortés) Born in Puebla, Mexico, Malili Dib was discovered by producer Pedro Torres, who cast her in the popular television series Mujeres Asesinas. She soon went on to land a major recurring role in the Mexican version of Gossip Girl. After graduating with honors from the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City, Dib relocated to Los Angeles where she currently resides. Her film credits include Melancolía, co-starring Alessandra Rosaldo and Plutarco Haza, Your Iron Lady, co-starring Victoria del Rosal and Yul Bürkle, Valentina by up-and-coming director Jorge Xolalpa Jr., and The Restoration by award-winning Peruvian director Alonso Llosa.

Leila Cohen (Condesa Maria Del Toro, Doña Madonna de Doñana) Leila Cohen left Brazil when she was eighteen and bounced around the globe before settling down in Los Angeles. She received a degree in Performance and Visual Arts from Brighton University and went on to train at Central School of Speech in Drama in London and Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City. Cohen recently completed a Film and Television Screenwriting Comprehensive at UCLA and co-founded a production company with her sister, aptly named Cohen Sisters Productions.

Yolanda Corrales (Young Alicía, Waitress from the Basque country, Rosalita) Yolanda Corrales is a Spanish actress based in Los Angeles. Her career began as a professional dancer in the Royal Conservatory of Madrid. Eventually, she traveled to Mexico to work on acclaimed television series such as Juana Inés, José José: El Príncipe de la Canción, and Luis Miguel: The Series. Corrales has also performed in theatre and film and has appeared in more than one hundred commercials around the world.

Andrew Avner (Diego Del Toro, Don Julián Hernández, Billy Ray, Municipal Veterinarian, El Miguel)   

Character Interview banner

INTERVIEW WITH ALICÍA CATALINA CORTÉS
  1.     Where and when were you born?

I was born in the province of Seville just before sunrise.

  1.     Are you right- or left-handed?

As a bovine, I’m left-horned. Almost every cow or bull uses one horn more than the other, and that horn’s called the master horn.

  1.     What is your hair—I mean, what is your coat color and eye color?

My coat is gray like my father’s hide, and my eyes are brown.

  1.     Are you optimistic or pessimistic?

Optimistic.

  1.     How do you measure success?

Contentment.

  1.     How do you measure failure?

Discontentment.

  1.     Do you tend to argue with people, or avoid conflict?

(Antagonistically) What are you insinuating? Are you calling me irascible? (Smiling) I’m only joking. (Laughing) Let’s just say I’m not prone to shy away from conflict.

  1.     What is your most treasured possession?

My cowbell’s my most treasured possession. It once belonged to my mother, who I never met. But I was named after her, and I’m told she was much like me.

  1.     Who’s the funniest animal you know?

Jesús, the hog. Hoofs down, he’s the funniest animal I know.

  1. How do you deal with stress?

I run. Running helps clear my mind and dispels my stress.

STORY NOTES

Theme: To be noble and brave is to have the courage to follow your dream and your heart.

Alicía’s Outer Conflict/What She Wants: She’s a cow who wants to run with the bulls in Pamplona—but it’s the running of the bulls—not the running of the cows. Due to Spanish tradition and her overprotective father, Alicía’s forbidden to partake in the encierro, which is the running of the bulls. Instead, she’s expected to go along with a prearranged marriage to Don Julián.

Why Does She Want to Run? Not only is Alicía a natural sprinter, born nimble with talent and passion, but the running of the bulls is a way for her to prove herself noble and brave to her father and finally gain his respect and approval. Furthermore, it’s a way out of her prearranged marriage to Don Julián.

Alicía’s Inner Conflict: Through her journey, Alicía struggles to balance her personal goal (running with the bulls) and her relationship with Diego. At what price is she willing to run with the bulls? In order to achieve her personal goal, she deceives Diego. As she grows close to him and their romance blossoms, she’s forced to rethink her priorities. Ultimately, her internal struggle is one of personal ambition versus love—to balance a sense of self and a sense of togetherness.

Lesson Learned: Alicía learns that to be noble and brave is to have the courage to follow her dream and her heart. She realizes that her relationship with Diego is more important than her personal goal of running with the bulls. Ultimately, love is triumphant, and Alicía is willing to sacrifice her life to save Diego.

How Alicía’s Story Relates to the Theme: The theme is what Alicía learns through the course of her journey. By following her dream she’s led to follow her heart. By following her heart, Alicía goes on an odyssey of self-discovery, whereby she learns what is truly important—love.

Audience Relatability: Everyone has a dream. Everyone wants to love and be loved. We all try to balance a sense of self with a sense of togetherness, personal goals with relationships, business with family, selfishness with selflessness.

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