#AudioTour “The Burning Son” by TH Leatherman

Author: TH Leatherman

Narrator: Russell Archey

Length: 7 hours 59 minutes

Series: The Burning Son, Book 1

Publisher: Fivefold Publishing LLC

Released: Aug. 12, 2020

Genre: Science Fiction; Space Opera

Pilot Mark Martin must flee his homeworld of Yale when the Erethizon theocracy overwhelms the defenses. His father, an influential senator, is captured. Now Mark must find a way to save his dad before the resistance is crushed, and with it, all hope of ending the occupation. A chance encounter with a smuggler captain may be his only hope. Will they help, or will the crew sell him to the alien invaders?

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TH Leatherman is a writer from Firestone, Colorado. He enjoys science fiction, fantasy, winemaking, and the Rocky Mountain lifestyle. When not busy writing his next book, he can be found hiking with his wife and two sons or walking his rescued dogs. He worked as a stockbroker for twenty years before he started writing full time. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Regis University with a degree in Business Management and a minor in Psychology. He has released four books, The Burning Son, Marque of the Son, Son Rise, Twin Sons and The Son Set, an omnibus edition of the first three books.

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Russell Archey loves the spoken word. Whether you need a story told, a product marketed, or a character brought to life, he takes both great pleasure and pride in voicing your project. Let him bring his passion and skill for the art to your creative venture. ​Clean, warm sound. Full and rich narration. Villainous vs. Heroic. Energetic and Upbeat! Smooth or Gravelly. Serious and heavy…or Light and Humorous! Lurch with a heart of gold or sinister evil lurking in the shadows. ​Russell is what you need him to be!

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Q&A with Protagonist Mark Martin
  • What’s your name, age, and race?
    • Mark Martin, 26, Terran
  • What do you do?
    • That’s a bit tougher. I’m a navigator, but with the war going on, I haven’t really had a ship to navigate. The need fighter pilots, so that’s what I am now.
  • What is your goal?
    • Protect my family, protect my homeworld, and drive the Erethizon from the galaxy.
  • What was life like for you growing up?
    • My Dad’s a senator, so my childhood was kinda nice. I went to private schools and played sports. I grew up on Yale, so an arts education is required. I learned to play the guitar, and I can sing pretty well.
  • What do you do for fun?
    • Um, flying, playing pod ball, and singing folk songs. Although lately it seems all I do is fly missions.
  • What is your biggest fear?
    • Oh, man. I really hope that we don’t lose to the Porcu-bears, the Erethizon I mean. If the Theocracy takes over the galaxy, their priest will turn it into a police state with mandatory worship five times a day, every day.
  • What do you feel are your strengths?
    • Wow, um. I guess I’ve got guts. When things go sideways, I’m the first guy to jump in and fix stuff. My sister is a doctor and super smart, so I’ve never really thought of myself as in her league. Um, oh! I’m pretty good a poker. My Grandpa taught me a lot about reading people’s body language and I’m pretty good at reading people.
  • Where could you improve?
    • Ugh. Politics. Reading people is not the same thing as being able to get them to do what you want. I just don’t have the patience for those kinds of games.
  • What is your relationship status?
    • Single. I mean, I’ve had girlfriends, but my last girlfriend cheated on me and I only found out because my friends told me. I’ll probably find another girlfriend someday, but with the war and everything, it hasn’t been a priority.
  • What is your relationship with your parents like?
    • My Dad is pretty cool. I mean, he wants me to follow his footsteps and go into politics, but that’s not really my thing. My Mom died when I was pretty young. I don’t remember much about her. My sister and Dad don’t talk about her that much, so I often wonder what she was like.
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#BookSale “Population: An Alien Invasion SciFi Romance (Population Book One)” by Elizabeth Stephens

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First they took the world. Then they came for mine.

Aliens invaded eleven years ago and now they’ve taken the last of the family I had left. Prepared to fight my way through Population to save her, I know what I’m up against: Ruthless human scavengers, violent gangs, and rogue aliens that are built for conquering and have a taste for human blood and flesh.

When I come across a dying alien, I loot his corpse, the good little scavenger that I am. I don’t expect him to come back from the dead, hunt me…or save my neck. And when he looks at me, I begin to think that he might be hungry for something else.

He’s my enemy for life and I have every intention of keeping my distance, until he offers me the one thing I can’t turn down.

He offers to help me get her back.

Set in a post-apocalyptic Pacific Northwest, Population is a full-length (97k word), action-packed, alien invasion SciFi romance featuring a strong female lead kicking butt alongside a possessive alien alpha. Population ends on a cliffhanger, but finds its happily ever after in book 2, Saltlands – available right now for #99cents. All other books in the Population series are standalones, though I do recommend reading them in order.

*Readers should note that this is a violent read, and off-screen assault does take place in this book and may be a trigger for some.

FREE for a limited time! Download today!

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#CoverReveal “Tripping the Multiverse: Jade and Antigone #1” by Alison Lyke

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I’m thrilled to share the cover of Alison Lyke’s upcoming release, Tripping the Multiverse! This is the first installment of an exciting new series! Stay tuned for the book tour in January!

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Tripping the Multiverse: Jade and Antigone #1 Expected Publication Date: January 21st, 2021 Genre: Science Fiction As a science journalist, Jade has seen more than her fair share of peculiar oddities—none weirder than her socially inept fellow reporter Antigone. When the test of a teleporter using an electron collider goes awry, the two women find their world changed in subtle ways, with anomalies breaking out in their personal lives. Their increasingly unstable dimension gives Jadethe ability to shapeshift while Antigone can see portals into other worlds. A fellow journalist who attended the experiment is trapped in another dimension and Jade and Antigone hold the key to saving him. Of course, their task is not just a simple rescue mission. Realizing they will continue to drift into increasingly stranger worlds until they straighten out the paradox, the women reluctantly agree to travel through the multiverse in search of a solution. If you purchase the book prior to the publication date of January 21, 2021, they may use the promo code: PREORDER2020 to receive a 15% discount. Pre-Order Here! You can also pre-order on Amazon! About the Author Alison Lyke I’m an author and an English and Communications professor from Rochester, NY. I’m an insatiable reader and a dedicated writer. I’ve spent many years honing my skills and I now enjoy helping others find and explore their own voices. I write fantasy and science fiction and I aim to captivate and inspire. I’ve written two published novels: a modern mythology titled Honey, which came out in 2013 and Forever People, a cyberpunk science fiction slated to come out in the spring of 2019. I also regularly contribute poetry and short stories to literary magazines.

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#BookReview “Reprobation (The Reprobation Series Book 1)” by Catherine Fearns

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4/5 stars!

Science and religion have a tenuous relationship in real life and it doesn’t get any better in fiction.

When a murdered young man is found tied to a cross, the suspect list is wide open. A religious fanatic? Crazed serial killer? Unpaid drug dealers?

DI Darren Swift—leading his first major case—and DC Colette Quinn are two sharp investigators that put together a stellar team and dig deep to break the case, but it’s the unlikely pairing of a conflicted, Calvinist nun and a jaded, cynical, foul-mouthed, metal musician that keeps this read moving.

Even before Helen Hope’s tragic history was revealed, I liked her. Pragmatic and practical, the eschatologist was able to see a bigger picture than her life as a nun and question her own actions and judgment.

And the woman thought nothing of taking a risk.

After Swift and Quinn question Helen about the religious implications of the murder site, Helen searches on her own and finds startling similarities between what the police told her about the crime scene and Total Depravity, a Norwegian metal band led by Mikko Kristensen.

When Helen and Mikko team up to find answers, each of their belief systems is challenged leaving both to wonder if they know themselves at all.

Swift is intent on following a drug angle in the murder case, but Helen finds someone is mixing the concept of predestination with junk DNA and genetic markings—does it get any better than that?

Reprobation is spot on with religious detail and the hard science of gene therapy without being high-brow and boring. Characters are well-developed and memorable and will put you firmly on the side of good… or evil. Mikko is my favorite character because he will say anything to anyone. Not for shock value–okay, mostly not for shock value–but, because that’s who he is.

Plot twists are well-planned, perfectly timed… and foreshadowed. Pay attention!

As much as I enjoyed this read and the details, it loses a star because, for me, there were times it was too detailed.

Most chapters end with a situation, plight, or dilemma that had me in a hurry to get to the next page only to be met by deep, detailed descriptions of the locale and/or the historical references connected to it before getting back to the story. Extremely frustrating and took me out of the story each time.

Still, despite that, this is a smart read with a fresh plot that will challenge readers on several levels.

The ending is satisfying but wide and vague, leaving the door open for another adventure with Helen and Mikko?

I hope so, and soon!

Enjoy!

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Are you one of the elect?Reprobation cover

Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.

When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.

Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.

Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.

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#BlogTour “Reprobation (The Reprobation Series Book 1)” by Catherine Fearns

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Are you one of the elect?Reprobation cover

Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.

When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.

Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.

Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.

Purchase Link: mybook.to/reprobation

~~~

Author Bio

Fearns

Catherine Fearns is a writer from Liverpool. Her novels Reprobation (2018) and Consuming Fire (2019) are published by Crooked Cat and are both Amazon bestsellers. As a music journalist Catherine has written for Pure Grain Audio, Broken Amp and Noisey. Her short fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Toasted Cheese, Succubus, Here Comes Everyone, Offshoots and Metal Music Studies. She lives in Geneva with her husband and four children, and when she’s not writing or parenting, she plays guitar in a heavy metal band.

Social Media Links – Twitter: @metalmamawrites

Facebook: Catherine Fearns

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#BookTour “Sea of Forgetfulness” by Lanie Mores


Father of Contention series, Book 3

 Science fiction and fantasy, Paranormal, Christian

Date Published: July 21, 2020

Publisher: Tellwell Talent

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CAN CHOICE EXIST WITHIN THE CONSTRAINTS OF A PROPHECY?

Angelika Juris unexpectedly becomes legal guardian to her sister’s rejected child, Dani… a child with the potential to develop supernatural abilities.

After witnessing a horrific event, Dani develops mental health issues, but is able to overcome her inner turmoil through treatment and her parents’ love. Their lives fall into a comfortable routine filled with dance classes, sleepovers, and video game marathons.

Until the accident.

At the age of thirteen, Dani is involved in a tragic highway disaster, and as a result of her injuries, her powers manifest. Afraid to tell her parents about her newfound abilities, and even more afraid of harming them, Dani is lured away to find her estranged mutant brothers, seeking answers about her origins and how to control her new power.

Guided by an amulet and map—a gift sent from her brother, Tomas Scholz—Dani embarks on an adventure where she meets a young boy, Jonathan. He is lost, with no memories of his identity, his family, or his home. With nowhere else to turn, Jonathan joins Dani on her quest, and together they battle pirates, the undead, and finally, her evil family—a family that is a far cry from what she expected.

Will Dani deny her destiny and resist the evil plans of her siblings, or will she succumb to her role in fulfilling the prophecy—being the path and the key—that ends in the fall of mankind?


Excerpt

Agent Markus Drake assisted Dani and Jonathan to their portside seats inside the pilothouse. The driver then tossed them a couple of life jackets, before taking his seat at the helm.

The boat edged away from the dock, the engine on low. Rob waited tall and stoic on the dock until they pulled fully away. Dani watched him through the window, shrinking down until he was a tiny doll‑sized man and then tiny zombie dolls came running at him, charging onto the dock. The shots from Rob’s gun echoed across the water. The tiny zombie dolls flew backward one after the other. And then she couldn’t see the island anymore. Water surrounded them.

Turning back to face the front of the boat, she yelled over the sound of the motor at Agent Drake, “How long until we reach the mainland?” She assumed the patrol boat would cover the distance much faster than the barge had travelled.

“A few hours. There are some apples and sandwiches in the cooler.” He pointed under their seat. “Help yourselves.”

Dani wasn’t all that hungry, not after the carnage they had just witnessed. But, surprisingly, Jonathan grabbed himself a sandwich and devoured it in four bites.

Dani couldn’t help being pissed off. All the effort of getting her and Jonathan this far…wasted. Now they were retracing their steps, returning home. And then what? Her parents would be fuming, probably never trust her again. She would be punished, grounded forever, no longer able to venture anywhere on her own. And they would continue to keep the truth from her, who her biological father and brothers were, and where her brothers now lived…why she wasn’t allowed to see them. Now she would never meet her brothers or learn to control her power.

She couldn’t help wishing there was still a way for her to get there…to Mount Hekla…which wasn’t too far away from them but was quickly receding into the distance with each passing minute. This boat, although quite large, sped through the water with astonishing velocity. The time to turn around was slim, and the handsome driver with shoulder‑length brown hair, wearing Ray Bans and a military-style jacket, was uncommunicative. He was doing his job, escorting the kids back where he was ordered to and that was that. Convincing him to change course would be impossible.

If only Dani could get control of the boat. Then she could turn it around and steer in the opposite direction, where she thought Mount Hekla was located. Of course, that was crazy thinking. She couldn’t drive a boat, and she had no way to know for certain how to reach the active volcano. Resigned, she settled back into her chair, the oversized fluorescent orange lifejacket she wore rubbing uncomfortably against her chin.

A bang on the stern side hull of the boat caused the deck to vibrate beneath their feet, gaining Dani’s attention. The driver seemed not to notice; his attention focused forward on steering the large watercraft through the choppy waves. A can of oil rolled across the deck of the boat into Dani’s view through the pilothouse window.

Where did that come from?

Then a loud moan came from directly outside the aft door.

“Jonathan, did you hear that?” she asked the blond boy who was crunching hungrily on a red apple.

Mouth full, he mumbled, “Whot?” Then another moan. This one he heard. Eyes wide, he turned to Dani, choked down his apple and mouthed, “Zombie?”


About the Author
Lanie Mores has her Honours Bachelor of Science Degree and a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology and is a certified hypnotherapist and personal trainer. She lives in Ontario with her husband, son, and forever barking fur babies, Batman and Petri. Sea of Forgetfulness follows Father of Contention and the awardwinning Guardian of Angel in a fourpart series.

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#Spotlight Sam Stea, author of “The Edge of Elsewhere”

Science-fiction, climate change converge in thrilling debut novel seeking to rediscover Earth’s beauty in wake of disaster.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania Bridging the generational and cultural divide, physician Sam Stea’s debut novel imagines new solutions to the greatest global crisis of our time: climate change. “The Edge of Elsewhere” (Sept. 8, 2020), is a thrilling science meets climate-fiction adventure that follows refugees from the not-too-distant future in a race against time.

In a world reeling from ecological collapse, Abbey Lane’s waking life is a bleak routine. Between protecting her asthmatic older brother, Paul, and scouring gloomy ruins of  Princeton with her best friend, Max, Abbey’s world couldn’t be more different from the technicolor eden she imagines in her dreams. But after discovering an old scientific notebook in the ruins of Princeton University, the trio find themselves in a world and a time they could never have imagined: New York City, 1971. There, they rediscover the beauty of the natural world, and meet a tragic music legend whose fate may hold the key to Earth’s destiny.

Born from his experience in the health care industry and his passion for literature, film, and music, Stea crafts an earnest coming-of-age story about the resilience of the human spirit in the wake of the most extreme circumstances.


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Q & A with Sam Stea

  1. What inspired you to write “The Edge of Elsewhere”?

“The Edge of Elsewhere” was inspired by my need to lend my hand to the climate crisis, which I see as the greatest health issue of the 21st century. With my busy medical practice, I cannot serve as an effective climate activist. But I can write. In my free time, I write. And I know the power of a good story.

  1. How has your work as a physician informed you as a writer?

Each patient is locked in their own story. I don’t know the end, but I can, I hope, impart something to them — call it wisdom or simply keeping them human along with myself along the way. But to see them rise from the ashes! That is something. A patient getting a long-awaited transplant. Or someone recovering from critical illness. The hope and despair, frailty and strength — these simple things I see in them inspired me to write this book. It is mostly written for them, my patients.

  1. What role do you think health care providers should play in addressing the climate crisis?

Health care providers need to lead us out of this climate mess. We must serve as the bridge between the hard climate scienctists and the public. We still retain the public’s trust — for now.  I cannot understand this disconnect and cognitive dissonance. Not acknowledging the climate crisis for what it is, a growing existential threat to human health and survival, goes against everything physicians have sworn to uphold.

  1. What do you think future generations will think about our actions on the climate?

Future generations will curse us if we fail to act, if we fail to break out of our simple, blissful complacency. In “Elsewhere,” we (those alive in the here and now) are called “sleepwalkers,” the seemingly ignorant and apathetic masses whose lack of action is incomprehensible to their grandchildren and great grandchildren. 

  1. What do you hope readers take away from “The Edge of Elsewhere”?

That they can see things differently, cherish the simple things, like clean water, a flock of birds, sunlight, or a cool breeze. If they can hold their children and think about their future just a bit more, that’s what I hope for. It’s all up for grabs right now!


SYNOPSIS

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IT IS THE YEAR 2079. Fourteen-year-old Abbey Lane dreams in colors that don’t exist anymore. Her life is a drudging routine of protecting her asthmatic genius older brother Paul from dust, and scrounging the ruin of the world with her best friend Max. But when they discover an old notebook in an abandoned university, possibilities open she never imagined. The three set out on an adventure into the past–to 1971 New York City and beyond. Along the way they rediscover nature, eat pizza, become hippies and befriend a tragic, legendary musician who may hold the keys to Earth’s destiny–if only they can save him!

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Sam SteaSAM STEA is a practicing physician, proud husband, and father of a wonderful son and daughter. Some time ago, Stea took a simple and deliberate step back from the complexities of life to see himself in a much bigger picture, within a context of past and future, within the balance of the human species with nature, and with what is truly lasting beyond one’s own years.

His great hope is that others in health care, physicians, nurses, therapists of all kinds, scientists and administrators, and young people everywhere will join him in his fight to better inform the public that climate change is the greatest imminent health challenge humanity has yet to face.



#BookSale “The Galactic Sentinel: Ultimate Edition: 4 Books with 2000+ Pages of Highly Entertaining Sci-Fi Space Adventure” by Killian Carter

Grab all 4 books in the thrilling GALACTIC SENTINEL series, in this great value 2000+ page sci-fi box set!

Because you know you love ancient aliens, genius monkeys, and epic space adventures.

Includes a Free New Exclusive.

Jason Grimshaw has one job. Get the cadets to Colony 115. Just another day. Just another milk run.

Or so he thought.

When scanners pick up an unidentified alien vessel, it’s already too late. With his ship blown out from under him, and his crew scattered across a war-torn planet, his day just keeps getting better. The good news? One of the pilots survived. The bad news? She’s the biggest pain in his ass, and she’s stranded miles away.

When Clio Evans said she wanted to fly for Fleet, crash-landing a starship in hostile territory wasn’t what she had in mind. She may not be the most experienced pilot, but she sure as hell has a few tricks up her sleeve. With an army standing between her and the rest of her crew, she’ll have to pull out all the stops, even if it means exposing a secret that’ll see her hanged for treason.

And that’s just book one!

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#AudioTour “Dark” by Paul L. Arvidson

Author: Paul L. Arvidson

Narrator: Benjamin Fife

Length: 9 hours 2 minutes

Series: The Dark Trilogy, Book 1

Publisher: Mr. PL Arvidson

Released: Sep. 14, 2020

Genre: Science Fiction

In the strange labyrinth of pipes on the planet called Dark, things are falling apart. Dun doesn’t want to be a hero, he just wants to find an answer to the terrifying dreams he’s been having. But the answers, the real answers, are going to take him places he’s never imagined and tear him from the only home he’s ever known.With a half-finished map from his missing father, an old friend, a new friend, and the mysterious Myrch to guide him, he journeys through parts of his world he’s never imagined. Are his dreams real foretellings? Who can he trust to be who they say there are? What are the strange forces that seem to be literally pulling their world apart?As he travels through a world that is much bigger than he thought it was, what he won’t know will kill him. And everyone he knows.

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Paul Arvidson is a forty-something ex lighting designer, now SFF author who lives in rural Somerset, UK. He spends his non-author time bringing up his children, fighting against being sucked in to his wife’s chicken breeding business and preventing Morris the Dashund contributing to his typing. His SFF works form ‘The Dark Trilogy’. Dark is the first book in the trilogy and came out in 2017. The sequel Darker came out in 2018 and the series will be completed by a final book in 2019. There will not be a prize for guessing its title.

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Narrator Bio

Benjamin Fife has always had a passion for learning. With a mind that remembers all sorts of numbers and useless trivia, he regularly wins local radio shows and enjoys confusing people with sci-fi quotes. Fife grew up in Southeast Idaho. He attended college at Idaho State University, where he met his future wife in their music theory class. They have been married nearly 20 years and now have six children and a whole menagerie of animals. When their oldest daughter was three or four years old they started reading aloud from novels every night at bedtime, and have continued the tradition ever since. The family loves exploring various worlds and topics through Fife’s wonderful reading skills, which get better every year. They all have his Christmas Carol voices memorized (and the older kids are known to quote along with portions), since he has read it to them every December. Benjamin enjoys all kinds of sci-fi and fantasy – both books and shows, is an extreme eclectic music lover, and prefers his chocolate to be of the 90% cocoa variety. Above all, he loves to be with his family. He loves recording audio books, and is delighted to tell people, “I’ve finally found what I want to be when I grow up!”

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Q&A with Narrator Benjamin Fife

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

Going way back to 8th grade (‘92?) – in my speech class we were required to do a read aloud from a book for the class.  I chose the novelization of The Empire Strikes back & did the iconic scene where Darth Vader reveals (SPOILER ALERT) he is Luke’s father.  I did it complete with a jar for the Vader echo.  Still love that scene.  Fast forward a few years & when I met my wife, we started reading aloud to each other. I started thinking about doing it then (early 2000’s), but life was busy happening.  We had our first kid in 2003 & from about the time she was 5 or 6 years old, we’ve taken turns picking what we wanted to read as a family every night.  We’ve read silly, serious, Fiction, non fiction.  I found it somewhat maddening when I read Jane Eyre to the kids – The oldest couldn’t have been more than 11 or 12 – and the two oldest girls were able to guess the plot points before they happened.  Right down to (Spoiler alert) “I Bet his wife will jump off the Roof.”     Though we do sometimes take turns, I’ve probably read 4/5ths of the books at least.  I didn’t really know how to get into doing audiobook narration, but I knew it was something I wanted to do. 

How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?

Almost 3 years ago, I got home from work one day & my wife said, “Hey, you should check out this ACX thing.”  That night I set up my account.  The next day I attended an uncle’s funeral.  When one of my cousin’s I hadn’t seen for probably a decade asked me what I’ve been doing, after the normal update of job, kids etc, on a whim I said “And I narrate Audiobooks.”  My first official audition was for one of his books (Prior to the conversation, I didn’t know he was an author).  For the record – My audition was abysmal & he thankfully went with a different narrator – however, earlier this year I narrated Walls of Glass for him (J.W. Elliot) My audition for that one he said was head and shoulders above anything else he got. I quit the dayjob in April (which was part of the plan before all the covid junk started happening) and haven’t looked back. 

Did you find it difficult to “break into” audiobook narration? What skill/tool helped you the most when getting started?

Short answer – No, not really. I would say the best tool & skill that has helped me to move forward continually & exponentially, is passion though.  I LOVE narrating.  I LOVE storytelling & bringing books to life. My wife told me I should put on here years & years of practice as well. The biggest thing that helps me now that its my fulltime job – Planning & sticking to it. Focus on what I’m doing & look forward to future projects. 

A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?

I took Drama for 3 years in High School & I’ve always had a dramatic flare.  I’ve never been cast for more than a bit part though, but it’s also not something I’ve ever tried to actively pursue.  For years, I kind of felt like I really wasted those 6 semesters worth of time in Drama, but in the last 6 months especially, I’ve come to see that many of my “instincts” were trained then – now over 20 years ago. Including studying dialects and so much more. The acting ability of a narrator is essential however, and now that I am narrating, I’m using a lot of the skills I developed in Kay Jenkins’ Drama class more than 20 years ago. I’ve also always enjoyed improv games that I initially learned in that class.  There are 2 main schools of thought I’ve found in audiobook narration – That of the “Strait read” or that of the “Characterized Read.”  I’ve listened to both & by far I prefer the latter, but my imagination can fill in the blanks on a strait read as well.  

What type of training have you undergone?

Aside from my 3 years in drama studying dialects & the 12 guideposts, I sang in choirs in college at Idaho State University & University of Idaho – both under some brilliant conductors – Scott Anderson (ISU), Rager Moore (U of I), and Dan Buckvich (U of I).  Scott & Rager’s rehearsals were more of a group vocal lesson.  Dan’s was in a VERY large jazz choir & he was amazing at getting hundreds of people to enunciate incredibly clearly. Years later, my wife & I ran a music store and I had a number of private lessons with Paul Harms, who had been principle tenor of the LA opera theatre for many years.  Paul was a very nuts & bolts vocal instructor. I’d also have to say my continual reading to my kids from all kinds of genres is an ongoing training ground. 

How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?

I haven’t gotten incredibly burned out on anything yet.  If I do find myself getting burned out on something, I’ll take a break from it.  I also find a good way to keep my skills up & enthusiasm up is to keep auditioning for new titles. The downside of that (sort of) is that if I get selected for all of them, I’ll be booked for a decade or so.  But I also don’t audition for something unless it interests me at least a little. Since I’ve transitioned to being a fulltime narrator, I’ve improved my editing skills & sometimes I might get a little dragging on a title, but really – I still absolutely adore what I do.

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

ABSOLUTELY!  When my wife & I were in college, we delivered newspapers ridiculously early & would frequently check out books on tape from the library. I’ve gone up & down with listening, much more UP of late.  My day job for years was a 40 minute commute, so it’s perfect for listening.  Now that I’ve canned the dayjob, I’ve traded the commute for an hour walk every day because I still want my listening time.  I’ve listened primarily to classics on Librivox up until recently (in the last 2 years I’ve listened to or read the complete works of Charles Dickens). I now am trying to listen to an audiobook a week from a newer narrator/author.  I try to review everything I read & listen to, so I listen to at least some of it at 1x speed.  If it’s non-fiction, I’ll pump the speed up to about 1.9 & if it’s fiction I listen at about 1.3.  At present though – I’m WAY behind in actually reviewing what I’ve listened to… But I’m right on schedule for my narration gigs!

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?

I LOVE storytelling.  I love it when I’m in the recording booth and I’m so into the performance that I’m just… emoting.  When I get goosebumps when I’m narrating, its a pretty good indicator that I’m doing it right (and also that the author did their job well.  I also LOVE voicing Dragons.   On the flip side…I hate waiting. (Inigo, Princess Bride).  Waiting to find out if I get picked for the book, waiting for my schedule to free up so I can get to the one I REALLY want to narrate, waiting for the author to get me back any changes, waiting for ACX to approve it & make it live, waiting to see if anybody likes it.   

I pretty well love everything else though.  But I’m not incredibly fond of when an author is Uber picky in the editing process.  I did one (no disclosure here as to what it was/ who wrote it, etc) that if I read “Said [character]” instead of “[Character] said,” they wanted me to fix it.  In that book the author gave me basically one correction a minute, some of which were due to their writing errors. Not gonna lie, I got burned out on that title.  That being said, I think my accuracy has improved from the experience. 

What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?

I’m a really good storyteller.  I love doing it & creating characters with the author.  One thing I like to do with authors is kind of assemble who they would cast as such and such a character. With Dark, Paul had me listen to Phil Hartmans performance from an animated show – I don’t remember which one – for the characterization on Padg in particular.  I’m also pretty darn versatile when it comes to styles and accents.  The other day I was chatting online with a publisher from New Zealand.  He had listened to samples of most of my books & asked me where I was originally from.  He was sure it would have been Ireland, or UK, or at least Eastern Canada.   Nope.  Born & Raised in Idaho.  (I did spend a couple years IN eastern Canada, but aside from that… Just Idaho.) I love doing character voices & I think I’m pretty good at it.  There’s a character in Dark, and several other books, where I was essentially told… Saruman… Do Christopher Lee’s Saruman.  I don’t pretend that I hold a candle to him, but I love voicing over the top characters.  Dragons in particular. 

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?

Horror. Erotica.  Just zero interest in either. I try to keep my narration to PG-13 or less. But I’ve read about any other genre to my wife & kids & I’ve already narrated a good many different genres.  I love it all.  I’ve certainly opened audition scripts & decided, “Nope. Not for me.”  I have recorded a couple of books under another name for various reasons. 

What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?

I actually approached Paul about it.  I read an interview he gave to some online reviewer, it sounded cool, so I emailed him & said, How about an audiobook?  Reading some of the reviews & hearing it described as Hobbits in space certainly piqued my interest. He opened it up for auditions & I was a little worried I wouldn’t get it, but, ultimately I got it.  I wanted another good SciFi series from another author (C.D. Tavenor is my other SciFi author I’ve worked closely with on Chronicles of Theren).

How closely do you prefer to work with authors?

As Closely as they’ll let me. Though nobody wants to be micromanaged.  But I like to be able to pick their brain.  And Its THEIR book first & foremost.  If they’re not happy with my performance, I want to know why & be able to fix it.  I’m very excited for Dark & some of the other projects I’m involved in now because of just how involved the authors are with me. 

Who are your “accent inspirations”?

For Dark – Kind of going with Space Hobbits, I did a little bit of Elijah Wood for Dun.  Some of my other general inspirations – Bruce Boxleightner, The Star Trek Universe – Avery Brooks, George Takei, Marc Alaimo.  It’s something that I’ve never been a “fast reader” because I’m reading aloud in my head even when I’m just reading to myself.  I assign an actor to be the voice of various characters in my head (Marc Alaimo has always been my Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn since the 90’s).

How did you decide how each character should sound in this title? 

Paul gave me a bit of an “ideal cast” and I started from there.  Getting Padg right took a few takes.  Was originally going for a Merry & Pippin kind of thing, but then made him more sarcastic after reviewing a Phil Hartman performance Paul recommended (He died way to soon)

What types of things are harmful to your voice?

Guillotines.  Sulphuric acid.  Goa’uld Symbiotes. Sword Swallowing. Head colds.  Allergies. Sometimes Teenagers (or my paternal knee jerk reactions to them – my own teenagers that is). 

Has anyone ever recognized you from your voice?

Not yet.  If anything, quite the opposite. I have had several friends & family members hear one of my narrations & say “That’s YOU?” I was on a zoom meeting with fans of the Jane Austen’s Dragons series & some of them were chatting & saying “He sounds completely different in person!”  To be fair, I don’t normally speak with a British Accent, so right off the bat, I’d sound different from my performance there. 

Have there been any characters that you really connected with?

In this series, Dun, Padg & Myrch.  In Jane Austen’s Dragons, Lizzy, Darcy, Walker, April, even Longbourn, Kellynch & Laconia.  In the upcoming King’s Warrior, I LOVED narrating Brant (he’s got some pretty heavy emotional baggage). I definitely try to get in the head of any of the characters I’m voicing though.  I really liked Rabbi Wheaton, Frank & Phil from Father of the Bride of Frankenstein.  Herman Rolfe in Earthbound, Theren in First of Their Kind, Raith from Flight of the 500, Yawri & Tisbero from Call to Purpose.

If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go? 

Absolutely.  First, I’d want to go to the future when interstellar travel is possible & they’ve worked out all the relativity issues. But I’d love to just be one of the Doctor’s companions for a season.  Just get me out of there before I’m killed or have my memory wiped. (As an aside – I wasn’t sure I was going to like the new Doctor.  We finally watched her first season.  BEST WRITTEN SEASON OF DR. WHO EVER, which is saying something because I loved David Tennant & Matt Smith.  But Jodi Whitaker owned it from day one, every bit as much as they did. The writing in 2nd season gets a little bit on the beating a dead horse as far as in your face about how screwed up 21st century earth is.  Peter Capaldi was mainly just grumpy & arrogant.  More like Doc’s 1-3.  Though I adore 2&3 also).

How does audiobook narration differ from other types of voiceover work you’ve done?

I haven’t actually done other voiceover work yet, though I’d be willing.  I have been told by some that narrating audiobooks is the Marathon of the voice acting industry, and I can’t say that I’d argue.  I guess when it comes to voice acting, I love marathons.  Just don’t ask me to run an actual marathon (You know the first guy who did collapsed dead at the end, right?)

Do you read reviews for your audiobooks?

Daily.  I love seeing what people think.  I check and see on all my titles if there are more new reviews.

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

Both! One of my favorite comments on Jane Austen’s Dragons: “I’m beginning to think Benjamin Fife is part dragon.”  I love to hear that my performance of something brought the book to life.  I’ve also had people point out that my pronunciations weren’t right (for Lonbourn for example – Sorry purists – I’ll try to do better, but its set for this series).  I had a review on a non-fiction book that I did that the listener said they were distracted by my unique voice.  Honestly took it as a compliment since the first book in the series was narrated by the author who was exceedingly dull in his read. (He needed a real narrator). When a review is particularly excellent, OR particularly abysmal, I try to reach out to the reviewer to say thanks & I appreciate their feedback.

What type of the review comments do you find most constructive?

As little recapping of the plot as possible, but specific commentary on the narration style, what they liked, didn’t like, etc.  What I don’t like is when they leave a 3 or lower star rating or review & they don’t mention why at all. Or things that are hard to quantify, like “he sounded like he had rocks in his mouth.”  I reached out to that one for clarification actually. 

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

Timothy Zahn.  I was introduced to him via Star Wars in the 90’s, and I love all of his Non Star wars stuff.  He’s got a pretty big list of books with no audio.  I’m planning on approaching him/his agent later this year. 🙂  I’d also love to do anything Patricia Wrede or Shannon Hale. 

Also Charles Dickens – I’ve already recorded A Christmas Carol. It’s on soundcloud for free here: https://soundcloud.com/user-29643215/sets/a-christmas-carol-by-charles-dickens-narrated-by-benjamin-fife

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

That’s kind of a tough one.  All of them?  The Chronicles of Narnia at least.  Maybe The Westing Game?  Or The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper?  The Great Brain? Wait you said one.  I don’t do well with one. 

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

Grow up.  Ok, I wouldn’t really say that, but folks who say this if you ask me have some pretty serious superiority complex issues.  Decades ago there were studies showing that kids who were read to daily by their parents were smarter, healthier etc.,  why would it be any different for adults who are read to? I meet plenty of people who can’t get into audiobooks because they have a hard time paying attention to them, and I get that.  It actually takes some concentration.  Just like “traditional” reading. But people who do listen to audiobooks listen for any number of reasons.  I recently met a librarian who is no longer physically capable of reading due to her eyesight & audiobooks have been a miracle to her. 

What bits of advice would you give to aspiring audiobook narrators?

Read copiously.  Listen to other narrators.  Get your own style. Read what you love. Read to your kids.  Don’t be afraid of the microphone.  Start with what you can afford/do & go from there.   There’s no “1 way” to do anything. There are probably MILLIONS of people who consider themselves authors.  There’s a whole lot of material to work with.  Rather than viewing other narrators as competition, view them as compatriots. 

What’s next for you?

OOh…  Lets see… I just finished up 3 books for Brad Swift  – A childrens to Middle grade series: The Zak Bates Eco-Adventures. That’s forthcoming along with the first of a fantasy series by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt – King’s Warrior.  Those & book 5 of Jane Austen’s Dragons are currently caught in the QC bottleneck at Audible. I’m currently editing my recording of  Book 6 of Jane Austen’s Dragons for Maria Grace, Recording a Kids book Tony & The Haunted Goldmine for Steve R Romano with my daughter Rosy, Just starting Finding Home by Jessica Sims (doing a bunch of southern Black voices from the 1920’s – interesting challenge & very moving book), Memoir of the Minotaur by Tom Shachtman (narrating under a different name due to some of the… Greek content…), Darker – The next one in this series – Should be starting on it by the end of the month), then the remaining 3 books of Jenelle’s fantasy series… And whatever else gets in line. 🙂  I love being so booked. 

 Bonus question: Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?

In the middle of narrating Longbourn – as Lizzie is fleeing Hertfordshire – I was rather into the narration at about 9:30 pm.  My studio is a converted prebuilt shed outside our home (If anyone can guess why I call it Rex Iter studio, let me know & I’ll send you a free code to ALL of my books that I still have codes for).  It has one little window right off of where I stand to record.  So, emotionally fraught chapter, dark & quiet outside.  My studio is not quite soundproof, so I’ll hear the occasional thing happening outside.  I heard a couple of little bumps or something.  So my subconcious brain is going, “If it affects the audio, I can do a retake, but I’m doing really well with this part and will just push on through.”  Then I hear the bump-tapping again & look up.  Ms. Awesome with Gowron Eyes watching me in the window. 

Normally, I scream like a girl when startled.  What got recorded is a cry of utter terror, followed by her coming in & laughter.  Enjoy. This just sums up our relationship. https://soundcloud.com/user-29643215/lonbourn-blooper-reel

In narrating Dark, I tried a few different things to get some of the sound effects, including my own teeth, trumpet, rocks & more.  You’ll have to listen & see what you think. 


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#BookBlitz “Sea of Forgetfulness” by Lanie Mores

cover

Father of Contention series, Book 3

 Science fiction and fantasy, Paranormal, Christian

Date Published: July 21, 2020

Publisher: Tellwell Talent

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CAN CHOICE EXIST WITHIN THE CONSTRAINTS OF A PROPHECY?

Angelika Juris unexpectedly becomes legal guardian to her sister’s rejected child, Dani… a child with the potential to develop supernatural abilities.

After witnessing a horrific event, Dani develops mental health issues, but is able to overcome her inner turmoil through treatment and her parents’ love. Their lives fall into a comfortable routine filled with dance classes, sleepovers, and video game marathons.

Until the accident.

At the age of thirteen, Dani is involved in a tragic highway disaster, and as a result of her injuries, her powers manifest. Afraid to tell her parents about her newfound abilities, and even more afraid of harming them, Dani is lured away to find her estranged mutant brothers, seeking answers about her origins and how to control her new power.

Guided by an amulet and map—a gift sent from her brother, Tomas Scholz—Dani embarks on an adventure where she meets a young boy, Jonathan. He is lost, with no memories of his identity, his family, or his home. With nowhere else to turn, Jonathan joins Dani on her quest, and together they battle pirates, the undead, and finally, her evil family—a family that is a far cry from what she expected.

Will Dani deny her destiny and resist the evil plans of her siblings, or will she succumb to her role in fulfilling the prophecy—being the path and the key—that ends in the fall of mankind?


Excerpt

The next day, Ang was showered and dressed in beige slacks, a white lace blouse and a powderblue scarf by eight oclock in the morning. Not only did she have a funeral to plan, having an appointment with the Lakehead Funeral Home scheduled for later that afternoon, but most importantly, they had their first family therapy appointment at nine o’clock.

“Anthony, time to get up.” Ang nudged the mound of snoring covers as she left the bedroom and crept up the stairs to Dani’s room. The door was ajar.

Strange.

Dani always insisted on sleeping with her door closed. Ang suddenly had an overwhelming sensation that something was wrong. Fear dampened her skin.

“Dani?” she called out before entering the darkened room.

The butterfly comforter was rumpled and thrown aside in a heap. The bed, empty.

“Dani!” Ang hollered, looking around the room and finding it vacant. Sprinting down the hall to the bathroom, she found it, too, was empty.

“Dani!” Ang yelled. Why wasn’t Dani responding? Surely, she could hear her, no matter what part of the house she was in. Frantic now, Ang scrambled back down the stairs, hair on end, muscles tense.

Anthony, hearing his wife’s screams, met her at the base of the stairs.

“It’s Dani. She’s not in her room.” Grabbing Anthony’s forearms, she desperately searched his eyes, “Have you seen her?”

“No, not since last night,” he replied. “Where would she go? She hasn’t left her room in days. Relax Angel, she’s in here somewhere.”

“Or Tomas has her.”

“We can’t jump to conclusions. We’ll find her…don’t worry.”

Together they scoured the upstairs, looking behind sofas, in closets, Anthony even running outside and checking the backyard behind the bushes where Dani had hidden before.

No Dani.

One place remained unsearched. The basement.

Dani would never go down to the basement. The child had been so terrified of Ronnie, it hadn’t even crossed Ang’s mind to look there, but they had run out of other options. Unless Dani had left the house, it was the last place she could be hiding.

Stumbling down the stairs, legs weak from fear, Ang then entered Ronnie’s room. It had been ages since she had gone down there, hadn’t even bothered to clean up after her ever since she discovered Ronnie was using drugs. Denial? Perhaps. Even when the police searched the house, Ang had remained upstairs. She knew eventually she would have come down to pack up her sister’s belongings, but procrastination had set in. The task too difficult to withstand just yet.

She was immediately accosted by the smell of her sister, and although stale and sour it sparked childhood memories…back to times when they were less hateful toward each other.

Ang flicked on the light. She didn’t see Dani at first. A heap of unwashed blankets blocked her view. Then she noticed a little pink slipper poking out. Dani’s foot? Her heart dropped out of her chest.


About the Author
Lanie Mores has her Honours Bachelor of Science Degree and a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology and is a certified hypnotherapist and personal trainer. She lives in Ontario with her husband, son, and forever barking fur babies, Batman and Petri. Sea of Forgetfulness follows Father of Contention and the awardwinning Guardian of Angel in a fourpart series.

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