Outside the Walls – Fantasy Short Story – New Release

Outside the walls

It’s here – revised and expanded for 2015! The first incarnation of Outside the Walls appeared in Bellator – but we’ve expanded the story to close on 10000 words.

Written with my friend Diana L. Wicker – author of the fantasy series set in Feyron – it was such fun to be writing together again.

Please see her author profile and website:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6573605.Diana_L_Wicker

https://talesfromfeyron.squarespace.com/

When war comes to Havenforth its fingers touch high born and low born alike. Many flee its pernicious grasp but as the refugees flood in who will be left outside the walls to fend for themselves? Duchess Eleanor shows kindness to a wounded man, when others simply left him to die and finds courage and loyalty abound in the shanty town.

A short tale of love, war and courage.

#fantasy #shortstory

http://www.amazon.com/Outside-Walls-Alexandra-Butcher-ebook/dp/B014G6X9FG/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Outside-Walls-Alexandra-Butcher-ebook/dp/B014G6X9FG/

https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/its-here-bellator-an-anthology-of-space-and-magic/

Soon to be appearing on Smashword and the associate stores.

Author Interview Number Ninety-Four – Christopher Bryant – Fantasy/YA

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Welcome to Christopher Bryant             

Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky.  I have been trying to escape ever since.  There’s nothing wrong with the state, its beautiful horse country, but it’s not where I see myself calling home.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc.I write fantasy adventure books for young adults.  I am also in the process of creating children’s books.  My first published book is The Sword of Hope Destiny Awaits, the first in a series I’m writing.  The second book, Dark Origins is complete and looking to be published.  The third is in the works.  For the children’s books, I am basing them off my mom’s and my grandmother’s dogs.  Each book will have its own theme, but told from the dog’s perspectives.  I’ll call the series The Adventures of J. Bird and Space Monkey (the dogs’ nicknames).

Where do you find inspiration? I find inspiration everywhere and in everything.  One of my favorite things to do when I get writer’s block or need some new inspiration is I go driving.  It could be something small, like a cross made of two stick tied together with a small yellow ribbon on the side of the road or maybe a house that’s built into the side of a hill covered in dead trees.  There’s always something out there that can make a story really pop.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? Yes, my favorite character is Tiberius.  Aside from the fact that the name is awesome, he’s a kid who wants to prove he can do more than everyone thinks he can. In my series, that plays a big role in his personality.  Proving to himself and everyone else that he can do more.  He’s not just the help.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? There is only one character so far I don’t like, but at the same time he’s kind of awesome.  His name is Chingon AKA the black knight.  He was a good guy turned evil and he stands just under 5 feet tall.  His armor is made of charred remains of his body, harder than any man made steel and a helmet of great evil to match.  I like him for that and the wicked blade he carries.  What I don’t like about him is he shows up everywhere taunting the boys and causing problems.  If there’s something going down, he’s usually behind it.

Are your characters based on real people? In a way, yes.  A lot of the character aspects are based on me and my little brother and the turmoil we face in each other’s company.   Also, for book 3, the people who have been helping me along the way are getting their own characters in their own town that contributes to the series as a whole as thank you.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? I have yet to use a person I don’t/didn’t like and kill them off in the book, but I did have to kill off a character, which surprisingly was hard to do.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? Research is super important, if not for an actual geographic example to write from, for the little things like the way the wind blows, the feeling you get when the sun is in your eyes, a cross on the side of the road, etc.  Research is very important.  Same thing goes with books that are nonfiction or are fiction based on an actual location.  How can a person write about it if they know nothing about it?

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? Yes, there is a very important message conveyed within my writing.  Not only does each book contain its own message, the series as a whole does too.  The first and third in the series are told from the good guys perspective and the second and fourth are from the bad guys view.  Aside from the story itself being a growing up tale for the main two characters, each learning to become the person they were meant to be or knew they could be, the series is written from both sides to show the differences between good and evil.  How difficult, but rewarding, it is to be the hero.  Having to follow the rules and not do bad.  It also shows how chaotic and freeing it is to be the bad guy, having no rules, doing what they want and possibly the consequences of their actions.

I do feel it’s important to have messages like that in a book just because if we don’t put them there, how will a child ever learn the differences, the meanings, to follow their dreams, to never give up, etc.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) Solid plot, great world-building, great characters, technically perfect.  I chose this order because without a plot, there is no story.  Once you have a plot, the next thing to do is create your world.  You can’t have characters without a world for them to live in.  Although, it can be done either way, characters first or world first.  Once your characters are right, your world is complete and everything fits well with your plot, its technically perfect.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? My book is available in ebook and also paperback.  We are currently working on creating a graphic novel based on the series as well as an audio book for all books in the series.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I self-edit and I also get my books professionally edited.  I do believe a book suffers without professional editing.  No one is perfect.  What harm can come from having someone else look over what you’ve looked over and make suggestions?

 What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? A book, compared to a movie or video game can provide a much richer experience.  Sure, you get actual faces and see the locations on a game or movie, but you can’t get that detailed view of an area or a person or even their personality without a book.  An author paints a picture with words in a way that a movie or a game can’t.  Books also contain much more than a movie or game shows, a backstory, scenes or chapters that weren’t added, etc.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

Never give up.

If someone tells you no, don’t let it discourage you.  Keep fighting for what you believe in.

Stay positive.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I’m a red head and red heads have no souls. lol

Book links, website/blog and author links:

www.theswordofhope.com

http://tinyurl.com/pyh4c5h (amazon)

https://www.facebook.com/Sword.Of.Hope

https://twitter.com/TheSwordofHope

Character Interview Number Twenty-Nine – Dii’Athella

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Tell Us About Yourself
Name(s): Dii’Athella, or just Dii. I’m told it means Flower of the Dawn in the Elvish language.

Age? I’m not sure. About 25 summers or so, I think.  I was never allowed ‘birthdays’ as you call them. Elves live longer than humans, even in captivity, so for my people I am quite young. Unless, of course, hardship or disease takes us. I’ve heard of elves living several hundred years but that is very rare these days. There is magic which prolongs life, but it is little known, hard to cast and the price paid very high.

Please tell us a little about yourself. I’m an elf, and a Forbidden. In the land of Erana that means I am a slave, or at least I was. Elves have no rights, we are property. We have no recourse to law, our culture is nothing but fragments of a lost glory, and we cannot move freely. I am also a sorceress. Although that, too, is illegal. The Order of Witch-Hunters deem magic to be wicked, and elves to be the bringers of the greatly feared Plague. I’m a mage, my blood flows with magic. Even in hiding that is so. Either one is magical or one isn’t. I cannot change that any more than my Elven birth.

In my former life I was used as the plaything of rich men. I was given or sold to them, to pleasure them. My Keeper thought it amusing to have an educated slave – it brought me even lower I suppose. Literacy is not common, especially amongst elves. The Order of Witch-Hunters don’t encourage knowledge and people thinking for themselves. This leads to questions, and the seeking of answers about the world. For them, this is bad. I love to learn. Ignorance helps to divide us. Knowledge is power.

Now I am a healer, herbalist and a scholar. I am also a rebel and a traitor, or so you’d say. That is correct yes, when one fights against the established rulers? If so, then I am proud of it.

There is more, but you’ll have to follow my adventures to discover that.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. Red curly hair, tattoos, slender, beautiful (so I’m told).

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Morals in Erana are not quite the same as in your world. We have love, honour, friendship, trust and all those things but there is no law, save what the Order decide. It is not law for it serves not the people, it serves the Order and slavers. I am, by my birth, my magic and my race a criminal and so I break what passes for law in our land.

I have killed, although I try and avoid it as I am a healer. I have stolen to feed myself, although I am not sure apples count. I have harboured criminals, I have lied and I have stood by whilst others died. I have led people into traps, but they were Witch-Hunters and deserved it. Morality is relative to one’s position. I cannot afford to follow the ‘moral code’ the Order espouse. I spent enough time as a slave, and in the Order dungeons to know that.

I am devoted to my family – my real family – not the bastard who stole me and raised me in his house.

I am kind, and I will defend my friends before myself. I like to help people. Archos told me it is because I was so eager to please as though not to be beaten, or worse. A lonely child longing to be liked. I have no idea if this is the truth but I suppose it explains a lot. It was a way to protect myself and now is habit.

I think I am trustworthy and discrete. When one’s life is a lie then one gets used to keeping secrets.

Would you kill for those you love? Yes. I would also kill for a cause I love. Freedom.

Would you die for those you love? Yes, and technically I have. Or close enough.

What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?

Weaknesses:

I don’t think I am very brave.

I am emotional – I suppose it is because of my earlier life. There are all these awful memories in my head and I can get upset about things. Archos says I am strong, a survivor. I don’t see it. Sometimes my emotions get the better of me.

My magic.

Strengths:

I am clever and resourceful. I had to be.

I’m kind and except for the Order I don’t tend to hate.

I learn fast.

My magic.

Do you have any relationships you prize above others? Why? Archos. He saved my life. He is kind, clever, fascinating and unbelievably desirable. Mages tend to be passionate and we are. He does not treat me simply as another elf. Finally my life has some worth.

Olek – Olek is like a brother to me. I trust him with my life. He’s amusing, he is loyal to Archos. They have a special friendship, very close with much shared between them. He was with Archos long before I came to live in Tremellic and they value the friendship. Thus so do I. Olek is very complex. One of those people who is not what he appears.

Ozena, my dear friend. She has also suffered much at the hands of slavers. But she is feisty and speaks her mind, far more than I. I suppose I was used to not being allowed to, or no one caring what I thought. Ozena is much bolder. When we first met she stood up to Lord Archos, challenged him on points and won the argument. Not many people would dare, or if they did dare they would most likely regret it. Archos still chuckles about it. I think he likes the challenge.

Do you like animals? Do you have any pets/animal companions? I have a raven, well to be precise she’s a Spirit Bird – a familiar you might call her. Ethnii chooses to be with me and I am honoured. She’s named after the Goddess of the Sky. She has some magic of her own, and she is very clever. The Shaman Kherak Var gave her to me, as a protector.

There are several horses too, plus goats, chickens, and such like in the manor grounds and the paddock.

I was never allowed a pet in my old life. My….foster brother had dogs but I was not allowed to pet them or make a fuss. I used to put crumbs down for the mice and sometimes the squirrels would come to my window but they don’t count, I suppose.

Can you remember something from your childhood which influences your behaviour? How do you think it influences you? *Looks sad.

My childhood? You want to know about that? It was difficult… cold, frightening and devoid of much love. Malana, my Keeper’s mistress tried to be kind and protect me but she was often as frightened of him, or sometimes would do nothing so she would not be beaten.  I was often hungry and I was used….

I never got to know the parents who brought me into the world.

Do you have any phobias? Being returned to the Witch-Hunter dungeons. I’d rather die than return there.
Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself.I know Shadowplay – at least a bit. Not many people do.
Tell Us About Your World

Please give us a little information about the world in which you live. Erana is a world of magic. But it is a world in which magic is forbidden. It is a world of inequality, martial law and prejudice. Yet it is a world of possibilities if one is brave enough or fortunate enough to find them. It’s an old world, full of surprises and strange creatures. Parts of it are very beautiful. Tremellic is a secluded valley close to the Jagged Peak Mountains, it is very fertile. The plains I have not seen very much. Then, of course there’s the Shimmering Forest.  The forest elves say it is alive, I don’t mean in the usual way, I mean sentient and cunning. There are many myths about the ancient forest, not all of them are simply myths.

The Tree of Always – the oldest tree in that part of the forest is supposed to be the mother of all the apple trees which grow. The tree is so old it has seen the elves rise and fall, it has seen the world change. Is it really the oldest? Who knows, there is nothing living to disprove it.  There are many lost magics and lost creatures – hiding from the scourge of magic until such time as it is safe to return.

Does your world have religion or other spiritual beliefs? If so do you follow one of them? Please describe (briefly) how this affects your behaviour. Officially not really. The humans nod in the direction of the gods when it suits. There are temples to Syltha – the goddess of healing and the gods in general but it is more a vague belief, hedging one’s bets you’d call it. Racial memories perhaps.

The trolls are the most spiritual – they have gods and spirits for pretty much everything. Our neighbours, the Var tribe, worship the Goddess of the Sky, called Ethnii’a by them or Kal Rean by the trolls. I suppose you could say she’s the mother goddess. She’s powerful and capricious. Her children are the sun and the moon.

Archos is….well that would be telling, let’s just say he honours to Sky Goddess above others.

There are minor gods, demigods and nymphs. These are, or were, magical beings from the early times. There are but a few left and those in hiding. We found a nymph, Oeliana in the Shimmering Forest. She guards the forest pools.  There are elementals too. Creatures of magic which are the essence of the world, the essence of magic. Once they were common, but even an elemental can be hunted and slain. Once they were worshipped and honoured, now if they are remembered at all it is with fear.

 

I think the forest elves have many local spirits and gods, but as I’ve said their culture is almost gone so it’s hard to tell. The city elves cling on to the old beliefs – they have little except faith and hope.

The Witch-Hunters don’t encourage belief in the gods – that’s close to magic for them, but I’ve been told individuals may belief, all be it vaguely. The gods exist, or existed. Acknowledgement is another matter.

Does it affect my behaviour? Of course. I’m a mage, we KNOW the gods are real, we KNOW the magic is real and won’t be tamed. We tend to follow the Lady of the Skies and the goddess of healing. I’m a light mage so of course I honour Syltha too. It pays to honour the local gods – after all one may need their assistance. Magic is magic.

Name and describe a food from your world. Once we had roasted Salamander. Olek eats anything so he liked it. No one else did. Giant Salamanders spit acid and they are disgusting and slimy. Not the best meal. We didn’t have much choice. I learned long ago one will eat anything if one is starving.

We have many forms of wine – some from grapes from the warmer lands, and other fruits such as blackberries, rosehips, and elderberries.  There are cider orchards too – both pears and apples.

The trolls eat a seed bread. It is much flatter and harder than other bread, like a cracker from your world. Wheat doesn’t grow that well in their lands but there are the hardy mountain grasses which provide a kind of flour.  It is easy to store and doesn’t go stale.

Ozena tells me her village ate mainly what could be gathered or farmed from their goats. Milk, goat cheese and yoghurts. They have hunters too – so wild pig, deer and birds are on the menu.

Tremellic has many farms – sheep and goats, pigs for bacon and a few cows for their milk. We have makers of cheese, a few hunters now and Archos is contemplating getting some deer to add to the food stores.

Our housekeeper makes divine honey cats. Oats, butter, honey and sometimes fruit. She has a secret recipe.

Does your world have magic? If so how is it viewed in your world? You need ask after all I’ve told you?

Does your world have different races of people? If so do they get on with one another? The humans blame the elves for the Plague, for the ills of society and for, well, being elves. The trolls tend to keep themselves to their mountain villages but do sometimes trade. It’s not that they don’t like the other races, just most humans either haven’t seen one or have odd misconceptions about their ways. Foolish ideas such as trolls eat people. They don’t, well not unless they get REALLY hungry. Something about a seven foot tall horned warrior who can shapeshift into a bear or a trollish shaman who can predict the future seems to worry many people. A lot worries the humans.

The elves are generally too oppressed to trust anyone much. The humans enslave them, and the trolls are distant. Once the elves, trolls and humans worked together.

Tremellic is probably more forward thinking than anywhere else. That is Lord Archos’ doing. He sees the advantage of alliances with trolls and elves. What’s that phrase on your world? ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ The Order are strong, they rule by force after all – so any alliances against them is valuable.

On rare occasions trolls will marry an elf or human. There are a few half trolls around. Half-elves are common – usually an elven mother – willing or not. Half-elves are slaves as much as elves.

Then there are the fae and the keres… Which shouldn’t exist but do.

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Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links:

The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book I

http://www.amazon.com/Light-Beyond-Storm-Chronicles–ebook/dp/B0088DQO9C

The Shining Citadel – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book II

http://www.amazon.com/The-Shining-Citadel-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00D4CF6W8

The Stolen Tower – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book III

http://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Tower-Light-Beyond-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B00U8A9044/

THUNDERCLAP.

As Book I has just been re-released here’s the promotional Thunderclap. Please support, like and share.

http://thndr.it/1E6kCII

(For further links please see the links on the linky pages.)

 

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

A. L. Butcher is the British author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles fantasy series, and several short stories in the fantasy and fantasy romance genres.  She is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet and a dreamer. When she is grounded in the real world she likes science, natural history, history and monkeys. Her work has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as evocative.

 

Blog: https://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6430414.A_L_Butcher

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alexandra-Butcher/e/B008BQFCC6/

Twitter:@libraryoferana

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarkFantasyBeyondTheStorm

 

Author Interview Number Ninety-Three – Robert Eggleton – Spec Fiction

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Welcome to:  Robert Eggleton

Hi Alex and thank you for inviting me to be interviewed.

Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., but I grew up around Charleston, West Virginia. Let me elaborate a little because your question ties directly into the plot and character development of my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow.

Shortly after I was born, my father graduated from television repair school in Cleveland. My family returned home to West Virginia. Even though I didn’t remember living in Cleveland, during my childhood I would brag to my peers that I’d been out-of-state since I was born in Ohio. It boosted my social status because very few of my peers had been anyplace other than their own ghettoes.

Similar to the protagonist’s father in my novel, my own father had PTSD caused by World War II traumas that he treated with alcohol. Before I started elementary school, he had become so dysfunctional that my mother would run him off. He would return when sober, “fall off the wagon” and my mother would run him off again, and again. Since we couldn’t pay the rent regularly, we moved frequently — shacks and dilapidated houses in one impoverished neighbourhood after another, into and out of the rural hollows outside of our small town. Typically, I would change schools three or four times a year. Everyplace that we moved, I would brag to my peers that I’d been out-of-state, and they were impressed.

After my father died in a house fire, my family moved into a housing project when I was fourteen. At sixteen, I no longer needed to lie about having been out-of-state because I’d gotten my driver’s license and it was true. I moved out of the Project my second year of college, got married, graduated from West Virginia State College, and was awarded a Masters of Social Work degree by West Virginia University in 1977. I have been employed in this state for over fifty-two years, more than forty of which were in roles related to child advocacy. Today, we own a small house in a low-income neighbourhood on the West Side of Charleston, West Virginia.

The theme, “out-of-state” was incorporated into Rarity from the Hollow. The protagonist is Lacy Dawn. Her mother, Jenny, begins the story as a down-trodden victim of domestic violence. After an off-planet comical adventure, Jenny doesn’t need to brag anymore about having once gone out-of-state.

“Out-of-state” was also an element of a scene during which Lacy Dawn delivers psychotherapy to classmates at school. In this scene, a boy’s father is unemployed because the coal mine had shut down. The boy is being treated by Lacy Dawn for anxiety related to the family’s intention to move out-of-state so that the father can look for a job in Cleveland.

“Out-of-state” was also used in two scenes involving the android. In the first scene, the android had been assigned by Universal Management to perform a job on another planet. He had to leave Earth, leave Lacy Dawn. At this point in the story, the android was beginning to fall in love and to modify his programming so that he could feel more human-like emotions. In this scene, the android sheds his first tear because he has to leave the Hollow and go “out-of-state” for a new job.

The last scene that mentions “out-of-state” involves the android’s return to the Hollow from the out-of-state job. In this scene, he is introduced to Jenny as Lacy Dawn’s fiancé for when she’s old enough to marry. Following is an excerpt showing, in relevant part, Jenny’s head thoughts at one point in the scene:

It’s unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again…They’ve been together for a while and I ain’t seen a mark on her. That’s unusual too. He ain’t got no private parts and that’s another good thing. Hell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. Id better play it smart. I don’t want to lose my baby.

A book review of Rarity from the Hollow published by The Missouri Review noted its “out-of-state” theme:

“And just when you think enough is enough, this world is too plain ugly…Lacy Dawn, her mother and her dog take off for a trip to the mall ‘out of state’ with Lacy Dawn’s android friend, now her “fiancé”…  In the space of a few lines we go from gritty realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip….”

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. The broadest genre classification for my writing is mature speculative fiction. Similar to the way that Heinlein used juvenile voice to address very serious and complex social issues of his day, my writing reads like YA, but it is not intended for younger youth, or anybody of any age that is not open-minded about contemplating emerging controversies and debates. It is not YA or any of its subgenres. In the 1970s, Ursula K. Le Guinn coined the term, “social science fiction” and Rarity from the Hollow fits better within that subgenre than any other, but I don’t want to limit myself to even that categorization because I tend to move into magical realism and other subgenres in some scenes.

The SF/F cross-genre that I’ve used is a backdrop. It is not hard science fiction and includes elements of fantasy, everyday horror, paranormal, true-love type romance, mystery, and adventure. I do not write to fit within a particular genre or subgenre, but I am willing to tone down a story to fit YA expectations as long as the story does not lose its essence if a market is available. I also enjoy inserting satire into otherwise dramatic scenes, as well as puns and even potty humour when it fits the character, and to contrast tragedy.

Where do you find inspiration? I’ve held back my creative juices for so long that it’s not a matter of “finding” inspiration as much as it is managing it toward a structure the results in productivity. At this point, anything and everything in my present or past experiences, regardless of how mundane, can trigger inspiration. I even dream about characters and plot twists.

Do you have a favorite character? If so why? Lacy Dawn is my favorite character because she is so flexible. She can be smart or dumb, colloquial or prim, beautiful or plain…. Like a chameleon, Lacy Dawn adapts to dominate, sometimes subtly, scenes that a rigid character would have difficulty. Maybe she’s my favourite character because she reminds me a bit of myself, especially when I was younger. For example, when I was fifteen my two front teeth were knocked out by a policeman. I wore a partial plate for several years. Anytime that I went to a junk yard to buy a used auto part in those days, I would take out my partial, change the accent of my voice, dress for the occasion, and I always got the best prices. Other guys would ask me how, and I would shrug but the truth is that I was playing a Lacy Dawn before I had given her a name.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? Sometimes I absolutely hate Lacy Dawn. She can be so hard headed. If a scene or an action doesn’t make sense, she refuses to play the part. I assert that I’m the writer and, thereby, in charge. Sometimes, like a bad parent I tell her, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out.”  She’ll turn her back on me and just wait it out until she gets her way. It really ticks me off, but looking back, she’s always been right when we’ve had an argument. Please don’t tell her that I said that or I’ll never live it down. I guess that any writer who doesn’t create characters that are not both loved and hated is not a very effective God.

Are your characters based on real people? Yes, my characters have always been based on real people, and I have met a lot of people. I have been a professional social worker for over forty years. This work has involved interacting with a lot of “characters” – “street” people, homeless folks, those who had mental illnesses or addictions, as well as, corporate leaders, business owners, supportive and abusive family members, governmental authorities, legislators, rich benefactors and food stamp recipients of all ages, races, genders…. If Sears still produced a catalogue, it would run out of pages before I could blurb about all of the characters inside my head.

My protagonist is based on a real person. One day in 2006, during an adolescent group psychotherapy session that I was facilitating, a traumatized a little girl sat a few feet away from me, around the table used to complete therapeutic worksheets. When it was her turn to talk, she didn’t stop with mere disclosure of detail about her trauma – acceptance of it was just a stepping stone. She spoke of hope and dreams, a future involving a loving family that would respect her physically and spiritually. Her presentation inspired other victims. It inspired me to pursue my life long dream to write fiction.  During that therapy session, my protagonist was born. This little girl was my role model of victimization to empowerment. I haven’t stopped writing about her since. Her name is Lacy Dawn, and I recommend that you not mess with her or it’s hard to tell what you’ll get.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? No, but I sure have wanted to. I still want to kill this person – I mean character – and in the most horrible way imaginable. This guy is only known as Faith’s father. He didn’t deserve a first name because he was so mean. Faith is Lacy Dawn’s best friend. Faith’s father is best known for his role in a short story entitled, “Stainless Steel” which was published in a now defunct science fiction magazine. Another version of the same story was available on the Alphelion site for a while, but I recently asked that it be taken down because an Australian blogger wanted to reprint it with a new cover. Depending on when this interview is posted, your readers can contact me through the direct link on the Lacy Dawn Adventures website and I’ll give them the address for the blog if they want to meet a very mean daddy. Lacy Dawn and Faith hatch a murder plot in the story, involving the near violation of the First Law of Robotics by the android, but …. I don’t want to spoil it for potential reader. It’s free to read the story.

Only the existence of evil can absolutely guarantee the existence of good.

Chronologically, “Stainless Steel” precedes Rarity from the Hollow. The girls were eight years old. Early in Rarity from the Hollow when the girls are eleven, this man killed Faith. It turned out okay though. Faith becomes a ghost and is still Lacy Dawn’s best friend. All things considered, she’s better off in this form. I guarantee readers one thing, this man is not going to die a natural death if I have anything to do with it, and I do. I am going to name the character first, however, so that passersby can take good aim to spit on his tombstone.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favorite resources? For my type of writing interests, research is less important than if I was into writing hard science fiction, and the world building had to be based upon more reasonable scientific projections of the future. When I’ve needed information, I’ve only used search engines. For example, I needed a name for a planet that had a Biblical reference because of the theme of the story. The story was not religious but the planet’s history was predominated by long series of invasions. I remembered a similar scenario from church Sunday school when I was a child. I used a search engine and came up with the name “Achaia” for the planet. Look it up and let me know if you think that it was a good name. There are plenty of other similar examples, but the worlds that I build just have to be visible in the reader’s mind, and a person can see almost anything even if it is hallucinatory. I research as much as I think is needed to make the scenes feel real for the reader.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? Yes, there are many messages in everything that I have written and will write. That’s why I think of my writing as social science fiction – that’s what it’s all about. But that doesn’t mean the messages will be interpreted by one reader the same as interpreted by another. I don’t write or want to read anything that is “preachy.” Heck, I don’t even think that religious literature, like the pamphlets that one finds on the floors of public toilet stalls, should be so preachy. I wouldn’t want to touch such content, even if it would have been delivered under more sanitary conditions. I want to write about important issues that one person may think support a particular position but the next reader finds the opposite. I don’t have the answers to the most important questions and challenges that humans face.

Your question reminds me of a line from Rarity from the Hollow that a reviewer had pulled out and posted on a blog because she thought that it was significant for some reason:

A person can know everything, but still not have a true answer to an actual question.

The narrative of this novel addressed social issues: poverty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, local and intergalactic economics, mental health concerns – including PTSD experienced by Veterans and the medicinal use of marijuana for treatment of Bipolar Disorder, Capitalism, and touched on the role of Jesus: “Jesus is everybody’s friend, not just humans.” These messaged do not advocate for anything specific. In my opinion, it is critical that such messages be in every piece of literature, even comics and erotica, but each of us have to find truths within our own hearts and minds.

One of my personal truths is that enough is not being done to prevent child abuse / exploitation in the world. Author proceeds from the Lacy Dawn Adventures project have been donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia: http://www.childhswv.org/

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? Rarity from the Hollow is available electronically as a .mobi, epub, or .pdf file. It is also available as a paperback. I’ve not looked into audio or large print, but both are great ideas to consider.

Thanks for the great interview.

rarity from the hollo

Purchase links:

http://www.amazon.com/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton-ebook/dp/B007JDI508

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton-ebook/dp/B007JDI508

http://www.doghornpublishing.com/wordpress/books/rarity-from-the-hollow

Public Author Contacts:

http://www.lacydawnadventures.com

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13603677-rarity-from-the-hollow

https://www.facebook.com/robert.eggleton2

https://twitter.com/roberteggleton2

Author Interview Number Ninety-Two – Amy DuBoff – Science Fiction

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Welcome to Amy DuBoff

Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born in San Diego, but I moved to Vancouver, Washington when I was seven—I’d consider Vancouver my hometown. I now live in Portland, Oregon, just across the Columbia River. I love the green and mountains around here!

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write primarily in the science fiction genre. My main series is something of a science-fantasy space opera, rather than pure science fiction since it includes telekinesis and subspace travel that might not align with conventional notions of physics. I like to write grand, character-driven epics.

Where do you find inspiration? I have always seen inspiration in everything around me—from personal life experiences to the worlds crafted by others—and those things have all become a part of my own creation. After years of taking in little ideas here and there, I felt the world growing in my head was finally ready to be experienced by others. I write now to share that vision. It is the culmination of all that has inspired me throughout my life.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? Wil, the central character of my Cadicle series, is my favorite. He’s driven by duty to serve the needs of his people, but he has a deep sense of morality. I find the struggle between doing what’s necessary and doing what’s right to be an interesting thing to write about.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? There are definitely some political commentary undertones in my book series. I think that’s a key differentiator between science fiction and some other genres.

At its root, my series takes a critical look at the path of humanity and questions the balance of power.

As the series progresses, I get into some deeper issues of the true nature of power—corporate influence on politics, and how information can be controlled. Though set in a fictional scenario, these issues echo the ongoing evolution of our own world.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…)

  • Solid plot is most important to me. Regardless of how fun a ride is with characters and the world, if the story isn’t going anywhere, I’m going to be disappointed.
  • Great characters are critical. Characters are how a reader connects with the story. Even if the plot is stellar, if the characters are boring or one-dimensional, the story is going to be lacklustre.
  • Great world-building is what immerses the reader in the world. There should be internal consistency, and the reader should be able to understand what it would be like to live in that world.
  • Technical perfection is ideal, but everyone has a different style. While the common goal is for a book to be typo-free, authors have different voices—a “technically perfect” sentence is somewhat subjective and will vary from author to author.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? My series is currently only available as an ebook from Amazon. I originally went for wide ebook distribution, but I wasn’t seeing sales on other platforms. Since going Amazon-exclusive, but I’ve been getting a steady stream of borrows, so I’m very happy I went that route! I do intend to offer a paperback version through CreateSpace in the near future.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I do most of my line-editing myself, since I work as a business writer by day and I’m used to looking at my own writing objectively. But, I always get multiple sets of other eyes, as well. I don’t think an author can really edit their own work unless a significant amount of time has passed. Even then, it’s easy to miss things. I think it’s more important to have multiple people (with good attention to detail) read it and comment, rather than it being necessary to hire a “professional.” Even professionals can miss things.

Do you read work by self-published authors? I do. I have been extremely impressed by some of it, and disheartened by others. I have read some self-published books that don’t even follow proper dialogue formatting. That’s not acceptable, and it gives all self-published authors a bad name. Readers deserve a top-notch experience, and I strive to give that as a self-published author. I welcome feedback and am always seeking to improve my craft.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? I like to thank readers for writing a review. So few write one. Though commenting on everything isn’t realistic, I especially want to show my appreciation to the fans that read a book immediately after release and take the time to write a review.

Reviews are really important for self-published authors—mostly from a marketing and visibility perspective. For example, Amazon’s search algorithms are skewed toward books with a higher number of reviews (I’ve heard 50+); also, many marketing sites have a minimum number of reviews before a book can be signed up for a promotion. So, a note to readers: if you read a book by an indie author that you really like, please write a review!

What are your views on authors reviewing other authors? Authors tend to be more critical than pure readers. I think it’s great to read the work of other authors for ongoing learning and growth, but sometimes the reviews can be overly harsh. Readers don’t always want to know about—or care about—technical flaws in the book, which an author is more likely to point out. I’d encourage authors to approach reviews from a reader’s perspective rather than pick it apart in the way one would in a writing workshop.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? A book can get into the head of a character much more than something video-based. But, more importantly, a book allows the reader to envision their own version of the book’s reality. An author can give clues, but it’s ultimately up to the reader to picture the main characters and the setting. That’s invaluable.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

  • Never assume your book is perfect: There are always opportunities to improve. Listen to feedback, even if it seems overly critical.
  • Read: Study the pros and understand what makes a story and the way it’s written resonate with readers.
  • Collaborate with others: Having a support network is critical as you go through the writing process. Establishing a group of trusted advisors can help you grow, and those people will also be advocates if you want to pursue publishing in the future.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself?

I love B-movies! I grew up on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and I adore the terrible made-for-TV SyFy Channel original movies. My favorite is Megapiranha.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Dragonlove Book Blast #DLBlast

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Blast Info
Title: Dragonlove
Series: Dragonfriend #2
Author: Marc Secchia
Publication Date: August 15, 2015
Genre: Fantasy Romance

Synopsis

When a woman loves a Dragon, that love will change the world.

Six years have passed since Hualiama and Grandion defied the Island-World’s most sacred law. They burned the heavens together as Rider and Dragon. For his crime, Grandion the Tourmaline Dragon suffered exile and imprisonment. The Dragons forced Hualiama to forget her past.

Now, the suns must set upon the age of the Ancient Dragons. Amaryllion Fireborn, last of his kind, bequeaths Hualiama an astonishing legacy. She is the Dragonfriend. Raised by Dragons. Burned by Dragon fire. Oath-bound to a Dragon. Crossing the Island-World in search of her Dragonlove, she will forge an indelible mark upon history.

As war between Dragons and Humans engulfs the Islands, Hualiama must unravel the secrets of her tragic past in order to confront an evil that threatens the very existence of the Dragonkind. For love that is tested in the crucible of fate must burn, or die.

Excerpt

Dragon-thunder shook the palace.

Hualiama kicked off her soft slippers. Picking up her formal lace skirts, she began to run, but the long train snagged immediately on the curved claws of a stylised jade Dragon. Dagger in hand, she hacked wildly at the priceless fabric restricting her stride. Bleeding–Dragon fire take it! She stumbled up endless stairs designed by an architect enamoured with galleries sized to house ridiculous mountains of royal artefacts. Entering a long corridor, her woefully short legs stretched into a sprint. Ranks of larger-than-life paintings of tall, pointy-eared ancestors blurred to either side. All of her attention was focussed on the altercation on the Receiving Balcony, atop Fra’anior’s Royal Palace.

A Dragon’s voice boomed, “This means war, King Chalcion!”

She had to stop them. Now.

Slewing around a corner, Lia deliberately cannoned off a man-high ornamental vase. She caught her balance, agile as any dragonet, and picked up her knees. Head down, she pumped her arms, accelerating to the speed of a warrior and dancer who trained for five hours daily. Twisting between two thickset marble columns to shortcut her route, Lia used a stone pot-plant as a springboard to leap upward at full stretch, flying briefly over a yawning drop to the palace gardens below. Snagging the crenulations atop the wall with her fingertips, she wriggled upward with the facility of a lizard scaling a wall and vaulted smoothly onto the balcony beyond. One more level.

She heard querulous voices, and the swish of Dragons’ wings. They were leaving.

Her heart could not sink, because it was thrashing about in her throat. But it should. This was just the incident to ignite the simmering relations between Dragons and Humans. She should know. That very morning, Lia had witnessed a Dragonwing immolating a Human village.

Bounding up the final staircase, she raced out onto the balcony, screaming, “Stop!”

Lia caught her foot in the wreck of her dress, slipped, and skidded across the rough flagstones all the way to the edge of her father’s robes.

“Stop them!”

Stooping, the King seized her arm. “This is an outrage, Hualiama! How dare you barge–”

She tore herself free, hurled herself to the balcony’s edge, and screamed again, “Stop! By the Spirits of the Ancient Dragons, please!”

Hualiama gazed out over her beloved Island. Sweet, haunting harmonies of birdsong and dragonet-song saluted the gathering evening, the ever-song, some called it, the unique melody of Fra’anior, which was an Island-Cluster of twenty-seven Islands precariously perched on the rim-wall of the greatest volcano in the Island-World. The late afternoon light streamed in so thick and golden, she feared the King might pass a law to store it in the royal treasury. But she had eyes only for the Dragons.

Four Dragons winged over the vast bowl of Fra’anior’s volcanic caldera, their scales gleaming like glorious jewels in the resplendent light. Two were hundred-foot Reds, as perfect as matched rubies, called Zulior and Qualiana, and the third a vast emerald-green named Andarraz. Sapphurion, the Dragon Elder himself, led their Dragonwing. His scales evoked the turquoise hue of a clear lake. All were breathtaking, but Sapphurion was the greatest of all, the leader of the Island-World’s Dragons.

The four Dragons banked with supreme grace, angling back toward the Receiving Balcony. Hualiama’s heart stood still.

Author Bio

Marc is a South African-born author who lives and works in Ethiopia with his wife and 4 children, 2 dogs, a rabbit, and a variable number of marabou storks that roost on the acacia trees out back. On a good night there are also hyenas patrolling the back fence.

When he’s not writing about Africa Marc can be found travelling to remote locations. He thinks there’s nothing better than standing on a mountaintop wondering what lies over the next horizon.

 
Social Media Links

Website  | Facebook  |  Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

@marcauthor and @MasqTours.
Giveaway: There is a giveaway for this blast. $25 Amazon giftcard and 5 Kindle copies of “Aranya”. The code is provided below. Ends 8/21.
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Audiobook Narrator Interview Number Six – Lynelle Bennett

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Name:
Lynelle Daliah Bennett

*Tell us a bit about yourself:
I consider myself a very creative person.  My family kind of pursued the military route and I ended being more of the artist out of all of us.  I draw a lot, write stories, poems, play video games and dance for fun but my passion became singing.  I grew up training myself as a singer and hoped to one day become a star like most little girls.  I was self taught for a long time and went to college for Audio & Media Technology where I wanted to learn how to record and mix my own music and eventually sell it.  I then kind of went on a hiatus from singing in the studio and started to sing in community choirs. 

How did you become involved with audio book narration and production?
Well, eventually I kind of hit a snag in my career and really thought about what I really wanted to do.  I knew that I really wanted to use my voice in some way but I didn’t find the music industry as appealing anymore.  I then met a very awesome woman named Diana L. Wicker who shared her stories with me.  I then noticed there was a side to my voice that I had always ignored but when I thought about voice acting, I realized how much I really enjoy reading and how I tend to create different voices for the characters.  I write a lot too and I usually voice my own characters in my head so I thought that perhaps this route would be promising.  I reached out to Diana who was interested in making her stories into audio books but found that she wasn’t really able to do them herself so when I introduced the idea of me starting to pursue the voice over path, she was excited because now she had a way of getting her audio books.    

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this?
I really enjoyed doing “The Dreamweaver’s Journey” because of all the different types of characters that I had to create.  It was fun figuring out what a Unicorn or Owl or Dragon would sound like.  It was especially intriguing trying to voice a goddess-like character like Lady Kali.  Fantasy was really fun in that regard.  However, I am open to anything really.  I would love to do a murder mystery or romance as well.  I really love the tones in those types of stories and feel that it would challenge me in a good way. 

What are you working on at present/Just finished?
I just finished “The Dreamweaver’s Journey” and I am probably going to start recording the next book in Diana’s series called “The Guardian Child’s Return.”  I’ve already read it and figured out the voices of the characters in that book so I’m hoping to record that soon.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?
Inventing voices for all of the characters was both challenging and fun.  I really had to test my range and even play with changing the tone of my voice that I never really thought of before.  Characters like Lord Hyatt for example.  The male characters in particular were most challenging but I actually grew most fond of them over the female characters such as Lord Grypos and Nolan. 

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling?
Absolutely!  There are many individuals who prefer to listen to a book while driving or even walking perhaps a pet or just getting some exercise or whatever.   I personally know that even visually impaired people most likely utilize audio books.  Why not?  

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular?
As I previously stated, people can listen to books the way that they listen to music and the fact that they can pretty much take it anywhere makes it very convenient.  I think that may be the main reason why they are growing in popularity. 

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book?
So far, my production process can still use some work.  I thought that I would finish Book 1 in one month but here we are, three to four months later and it’s finally been released.  I hope that it gets faster for the next time around. 

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself.
I think that I am a major geek.  I get so nerdy into games that a lot of people just can’t help but smack their heads.  I got so into a video game that I made a music tribute video based on my main characters and even drew, and painted a portrait of my main characters in the game as well.  It was an RPG so I was able to make up what the main hero looked like.  I don’t know if this is considered silly or obsessive.    

Where can we learn more about you?

So far the best place is Facebook.  I hope to get a website soon!  Also, the Dreamweaver’s Official Site is a good place to get more info on the books by Diana.    

Social Media links: https://www.facebook.com/lynelle.bennett
Official Site for Tales from Feyron:   www.talesfromfeyron.com

http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Dreamweavers-Journey-The-Age-of-Awakenings-Book-1-Audiobook/B013J9VUAW/

http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Dreamweavers-Journey-The-Age-of-Awakenings-Book-1-Audiobook/B013J9WNOY/

Audiobook Narrator Interview Number Five – Fred Wolinsky

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*Name: Fred Wolinsky

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I have been involved in performing practically all my life.  As a child, I put on puppet shows in my backyard (creating different characters, accents, and voices), and started making extra money performing magic and ventriloquism shows for parties and organizations.  I also got involved as an actor in school plays and community theatre.  From a young age, I was inspired by ventriloquist Paul Winchell and his many characters, as well as Mel Blanc and all of the different voices he created.

I graduated college with a degree in Theatre Arts, trained in New York City in voice, acting and dance, acted in Summer Stock, Off-Off-Broadway plays, regional theatre, and touring shows, and eventually joined  the actors unions.  I later started working full-time as a puppeteer, which led to the founding of my own puppet theatre company, Pegasus Productions, presenting shows with life-sized puppets and magic, which grew into a nationally touring company with 2 full-time troupes, which I continued to run through 1988.  The success of Pegasus lead me to found Encore Performing Arts, a not-for-profit agency which offered touring shows for children and family audiences of all kinds.  The fast growing company became a leader in the field of professional performances for children’s audiences.

All the while, I still continued acting, directing, and choreographing in local theatre productions.  In 1994, I was named “Best Actor of the Hudson Valley” by the Times Herald Record for my performance as Alan Turing in “Breaking the Code.” Since leaving my position at Encore in 2006, I have also been teaching Speech and Theatre on the college level, became a nationally certified American Sign Language Interpreter, and of course became a voice over artist and audiobook narrator/producer in the fall of 2013. I love bringing books to life and portraying all the different characters.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? Since I was a child, inspired by Mel Blanc and Paul Winchell, I dreamed of becoming a voice-over artist, but I took the long route to get here.  However, everything that I have done up until this time all contributed to my skills and abilities as a narrator/producer.  As a puppeteer and ventriloquist, I learned to create many different voices in conversation with each other.  As an actor, I learned to bring characters to life with an emotional  sincerity. As a director, I learned how to analyze scripts, interpret the work of the author, find the emotional core of the production, and develop a sense of pacing.  My ear for languages, helped me create characters with different accents — regional as well as international. While operating my puppet company, I made voice tracks for all the shows, so I learned how to edit and produce sound tracks. Running two businesses taught me how to manage my time, have integrity in my work, and live up to my commitments.

After retiring from Encore, my other work has been part-time, and I was looking for something to fill the slow spots.  A talented actress friend of mine began doing a lot of professional voice over work, so I used the opportunity to pick her brain.  She introduced me to ACX and taught me a lot about the business.  I purchased some equipment and started submitting audition files.  Then I started getting hired to narrate and produce books, and continued learning and growing on the job.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I currently have 34 books listed on Audible.com, and more in the works.  It is so hard to pick a favorite.  That is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. Some that I most enjoyed narrating the include “The Doorways Trilogy” books by Tim O’Rourke, “Island of Fog” series by Keith Robinson, “Fables and Fantasies” by Dale T. Phillips, “To Light the Dragon’s Fire” by Margaret Taylor, among others.  Here is a full list of my current titles on Audible:

– “The Feylands (The Hidden Lands Book 1)” by Peter Meredith
– “Island of Fog (Book 1)” by Keith Robinson
– “Labyrinth of Fire (Island of Fog Book 2)” by Keith Robinson
– “Doorways (book 1 of The Doorways Saga)” by best-selling author Tim O’Rourke
– “The League of Doorways (book 2 of The Doorways Saga)” by best-selling author Tim O’Rourke
– “To Light the Dragon’s Fire: Dragons, Griffons, and Centaurs, Oh My!” by Margaret Taylor
– “A Candle Star” by Michelle Isenhoff
– “A Demon’s Quest: The Beginning of the End” by Charles Carfagno
– “London Warriors” by Paul Rudd
– “Link” by D. A. Karr
– “The Veneer Clause” by Winfield H. Strock III
– “Hand Puppet Horror” by Benny Alano
– “A Song After Dark” by Grant Palmquist
– “Insanity Tales” by David Daniel, Stacey Longo, Dale T. Phillips, Vlad V., and Ursula Wong, with an introduction by Jonathan Maberry
– “Freedom Club” by Saul Garnell
– “Points of Origin” by Darden North
– “Diner Tales: A Contemporary Canterbury Anthology” by Andy Bunch
– “His Undoing: A Gay For You Erotic Short Story” by Aria Grace
– “Figures in Blue”; by Ted Morrissey
– “Fables and Fantasies”; by Dale T. Phillips
– “Apocalypse Tango” by Dale T. Phillips
– “Kevin Chandler and The Case of the Missing Dogs” by A. L. Jambor
– “Separate Lives” by Dale Roberts
– “The Dark Djin (Denny’s Tales)” by Andy R. Bunch
– “Promises Unfulfilled (Diner Tales)” by Andy R. Bunch
– “Monsters and Legends (Diner Tales)” by Andy R. Bunch
– “‘Twas the Night” by Robin Reed
– “Crooked Paths” by Dale T. Phillips
– “Halls of Horror: A 10 Story Collection” by Dale T. Phillips
– “Jumble Sale” by Dale T. Phillips
– “The Big Book of Genre Stories” by Dale T. Phillips
– “Tales of the Gray Ghost” by Bill Craig
– “The Package” by Cleve Sylcox
– “Wacky Waddles” by Miranda Hardy

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? Just like no actor is the right match for every role, no narrator is the right match for every book.  Each book requires different skills, different vocal qualities, and different styles.  There is really no genre that I would flat out not produce, but there are certain genres that I seem to be best suited for.

I have a unique voice, not your classic announcer voice, which is very well suited for certain books, and not as well suited for others. My strength is my versatility and my acting. What I excel at, and enjoy the most, is doing books that have a wide range of character voices, as well as a theatrical narrative. I love bringing each character to life vocally, making them jump off the page and come to life for the listener.  I also treat the narrator as a character, even when it is third person narration, reading it with a passion and emotion, as if really telling the story, not just reading it.

I have done many different genres successfully, but the genres that seem to most often fit my skills are fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, horror, and young adult.

What are you working on at present/just finished? As of this writing, I am finishing up “The Queen of Doorways (the Doorways saga, book 3)” by Tim O’Rourke. I am also working on “Mountain of Whispers (Island of Fog book 3)” by Keith Robinson, and am lined up to do “To Save the Broken Heart: Dragons, Griffons, and Centaurs, Oh My! book 2” by Margaret Taylor, and “The Sun King (The Hidden Lands Book 2)” by Peter Meredith.  These are all sequels of books that I have previously recorded, so obviously the writers have been pleased.

Tim O’Rourke, author of “The Doorways Saga” books had said to me after listening to the first book in the series, “The voices were perfect and the chapters seemed to burst with life…. The book really comes to life and even though I wrote it I got caught up in the story as if coming across it for the first time.”  Many authors have expressed similar sentiments.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I always start by reading the entire book, studying the characters and the style, and marking the script with color codes for different voices, as well as other performance notes.  I also communicate with the author to discuss his or her visions of the characters and clarify any questions.  I then record the book, doing a “punch editing” process, where I stop and start as often as necessary to perfect each phrase and get each voice just right, piecing the parts together as I go.  I tend to stop frequently to make adjustments to the phrasing until I am satisfied. While there are actually many different takes strung together, I need to make it sound as if the entire book is being read once-through without errors.  I aim to make it word perfect and be true to the author’s work.

When the book has many voices (as most of my books do), I make a separate sound file with samples of each character’s voice.  That way, if there is time between appearances of that character (or in the event of a series where it may be several months before I produce next book), I can refresh myself as to how each character sounds, and keep each voice consistent.

Then I do the final editing and mastering, carefully listening to and touching up each moment to cut out any extraneous noises, subdue any loud breaths, and perfect the timing and pauses, as well as master the sound levels to a consistent range.

The final step is to convert all the files to the proper format for uploading.

With preparation, recording, editing, mastering, and file conversion, it takes me approximately 10 hours of work to complete one hour of finished audio.  I may take a bit more time than some other narrators, but it pays off with the results. Just like putting together a theatre production, there is quite a bit of unseen work to make it sound natural, easy, and spontaneous.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?

I love creating the different character voices. I try to picture what each character would look like, act like, and sound like. I don’t just think about accent or voice quality, but personality as well. How would that character speak? It is especially fun creating the voices for fantasy characters. Those will often be inspired by animals and animal sounds, and sometimes I will enhance them electronically in the editing phase.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? When I first started narrating, I took anything that was offered.  Now, I am more selective. I prefer to be paid a flat fee (per finished hour) for my work. I will take some royalty share deals, but only if I think the book has a chance of a decent sales volume, so that I can be compensated for my work. I look at the quantity of reviews for that book, the past sales of the book, popularity of the other books from that author, as well as the amount and kind of promo that the author does and plans to do.

I have produced a few books for which ACX has offered a stipend. This provides the best of both worlds. ACX will pay the narrator/producer a fee per finished hour, plus the narrator/producer will also get a split of the royalties. Unfortunately, ACX only selects very few books for which they will grant this stipend. I have been fortunate to have been contracted for a few of these.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? As more people have access to audiobooks, and with the ever-increasing tendency in our culture to multitask, I do think that audiobooks will continue to rise in popularity.  However, I do not think it will ever replace print books (whether on paper or in electronic format). Audiobooks is a different media for storytelling, and each media has its pros and cons, and supporters and detractors. In reading, the reader creates the pictures and voices in their head rather than hearing the narrator’s interpretation. The reader has an easier option to jump back and forward, or skim through some sections than they do with audio. On the other hand, audiobooks can be listened to while driving or doing other things with your eyes and hands that you cannot do while reading a book. Also, if done well, audiobooks can really bring the story to life, creating a full movie in the listener’s mind.

Just like live theatre, movies, radio, TV, DVD, and other formats have only added to the options people have for entertainment, but have not replaced each other, I think audiobooks will become another popular form of storytelling.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I can wiggle my ears.

Where can we learn more about you?

My website is http://fredwolinsky.weebly.com/  Check it out, and fill out the “Contact” form if you would like to get on my email list for occasional announcements about new releases or special promotions.

My Goodreads page is https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8282586.Fred_Wolinsky  Follow me or friend me to keep up with my latest news.

Miraculously, I have somehow so far avoided getting involved with FaceBook and other social media sites.

Author Interview Number Ninety-Two – Dean Robertson

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Welcome to Ms. Dean Robertson

Where are you from and where do you live now? I grew up on 200 acres of North Georgia woods; now I live in a 1928 co-op in an urban neighbourhood in Norfolk, Virginia.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. The easiest answer is that my first book, Looking for Lydia; Looking for God is a memoir.  It is also a sometimes unconventional discussion of some familiar Bible stories; the history of an assisted living facility that was built and chartered in 1921 in a southern city by a carpetbagger from Pennsylvania; the stories of the women who live in the Home today and who participated in a Bible study for two years; and the narrative of my obsessive search for the Lydia of the title.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why?  I think probably two, and for the same reasons: Dorothea Brooke in George Eliot’s Middlemarch, and Drusilla in Faulkner’s The Unvanquished—because they are intelligent, passionate, naïve, and slightly mad.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I edit myself and ask others to edit my work with me in the same way I went over all student essays and taught students to work with their own essays over 30+ years of teaching—by reading out loud, line-by-line, over and over and over.  Any language is at least half music and, while I may not know right away what’s wrong or how to fix it, I will hear the sour note which forces me to pause and reconsider.  I had a quite amazing experience with my cousin editing this book, which I’m happy to relate in detail.  I am currently editing a friend’s children’s book and we spend a couple of hours a day on the phone, both looking at the manuscript, reading aloud, discussing, and rewriting.  It’s the first time she’s ever done this, and she simply says, “It works!”

On the other hand, my senior editor at Koehler Books, while he didn’t find much that needed changing, was brilliant and came up with some absolutely genius ideas for restructuring that I never would have thought of.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? No question self-published authors are viewed differently.  Several places where I’ve submitted my book for review have indicated, up front, that they don’t review self-published authors.  Their stated reason is a lack of professional editing.  I suspect that it is also a vestige of the good-old-boys network of the nearly defunct big houses.  Sloppy editing seems all too common.  The noise of the Manhattan publishers is the last roar of a dying lion.

Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes, I do, but usually only on the recommendation of someone I trust.  Let’s face it, even professionally edited books these days too often have inexcusable errors.  And I find carelessly overlooked typos annoying, uncorrected errors in grammar and usage nearly unbearable.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? I read reviews selectively by reviewers or in publications I know and respect.  I don’t always agree, but I always learn from those reviews—The New Yorker and The NY Times Book Review are my personal favorites.

What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? Who better?  I suppose professional competitiveness exists; I just don’t have it and I choose to assume the best of my fellow authors on that score.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? The full use of the creative imagination; movies and video games try their best to do that job for us.   A serious look at the world through the eyes of both characters and narrator.

A break from the noise of the world we live in.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Continue; continue; continue

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? Ishiguro’s Buried Giant, and I’m re-reading it immediately.  I don’t know if that means I enjoyed it or that I’m intrigued and puzzled by it.  Elaine Pagels’ Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, & Politics in the Book of Revelation—the best work of theology I have read in  years.

Do you have any pets? One cat, Isaac.  I have always had cats, had 5 llamas for 10 years, and spent a few years keeping bees.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I just bought a pair of hot pink leggings—at age 69+.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

http://www.koehlerbooks.com/books-2/books/looking-for-lydia-looking-for-god/

http://pdrobertson.com

http://pdrobertson.com/blog/

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1633931005?creativeASIN=1633931005&linkCode=w00&linkId=YPEU26LANJMRWEGK&ref_=as_sl_pc_tf_til&tag=ameagatheteap-20

Audiobook Narrator Interview Number Four – Dean Robertson

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*Name: Dean Robertson

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I am a 69-year-old retired English teacher, first-time author, and first-time grandmother (as of Shakespeare’s birthday 2015).  I grew up on 200 acres of woods in North Georgia, have lived and taught in California, Kentucky, Michigan, and Virginia, and live currently in a 1928 co-op building in an urban neighbourhood in Norfolk, Virginia.

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? When I lived in Michigan, I read out loud to several friends, one of whom saw an article in the local paper about recording audiobooks.  She called me and said, “You should do this.”  I had another friend with a recording studio, so I made a demo tape which I sent off to The Brilliance Corporation.  I didn’t hear anything for a long time and had forgotten about it when they called to ask if they could submit my tape to Barbara Kingsolver for her novel, The Poisonwood Bible.  She approved, and I did the job.  I narrated several other books for them that year.

I haven’t narrated audiobooks for many years; my life and passion became increasingly involved with teaching.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I’m going to describe my process for narrating The Poisonwood Bible, because that was the longest book I narrated and also the first, the finest, and a model for the others.  It would still be the model if I did this work again.  The work came up fast.  They sent me a manuscript, which was dauntingly thick and, unlike my usual meticulous preparation for anything I do, I decided I just didn’t want to read it.  So, the narration was my first reading.  It was exactly the right thing.  I went to the studio’s headquarters on Lake Michigan and checked into a motel.  Every morning at 8:00 I drove to “work,” entered the small room, lined with egg carton foam, pulled on the huge earphones, opened the manuscript, and started reading.  We broke for lunch, then worked until around 4:00.  After that, I went back to my motel, walked on the beach, then went to bed.  It took five days.  I guess my process, looking back on it, just happened and involved somehow being in what people later came to call “the zone.”  I sat perfectly still, spoke into the large microphone, and could hear nothing but the sound of my own voice and Kingsolver’s words, echoing through my brain from one ear to the other.  I find, with years enough behind me to consider it, that it’s the way I have done everything-teaching, narrating, writing.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  The absolute immersion in a piece of literature—the music of the words bringing you into the book more intensely than I could have imagined.

Do you listen to audiobooks?  Nope—not mine nor anyone else’s.

*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I certainly hope not.  I continue to sit down, rock my grandson, and read aloud to him from whatever I happen to be reading.  I did that from his first day.  I did the same with my son—nursing, rocking, reading.  Complete intimacy.  MP3 players, and all their ilk, are cold and distancing and offer very little in the way of human connection.  There’s still the voice, but I don’t believe much in the power of disembodied voices.

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? People are rushed and incapable of the kind of stillness required to sit down to read a book.  And we have created a culture in which reading isn’t valued at all.  I hope the human need for stories will keep them alive in at least some form, but I am not hopeful.  We have already moved into the world of graphic novels, i.e., comic books.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? I am old.  I have never owned an audio book except the free ones I got for narrating.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? No; I loved every minute of it.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. Having famously said of owning llamas, “Once you’ve kissed something with three lips, there’s no going back.”

Where can we learn more about you?  My website and my author page on Koehler Books.

http://pdrobertson.com

http://www.koehlerbooks.com/books-2/books/looking-for-lydia-looking-for-god/

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