Audiobook & Ebook Giveaway: Interview with Natalie Wright, Author of the H.A.L.F. Series

Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Natalie Wright. I recently met her at Albuquerque’s Bubonicon where we spent close to an hour talking about books (of course!). It’s my great pleasure to have her on the blog today. Enjoy! Scroll to the bottom for the ebook and audiobook giveaway of Books 1 & 2 of her H.A.L.F. series.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

This one is hard because I love so many movies and shows! I’m a huge Star Wars nut, so it would be great to be an extra in a Star Wars movie. I’d love to be cast as a Jedi knight, swinging a light saber in the background. But given my short, squat stature and lack of athleticism, they’d probably cast me as an Ewok!

I also love Game of Thrones and would love to wear a beautiful silk gown and perhaps be a lady-in-waiting in a court. But given my flaming hair and Celtic genes, they’d probably cast me as a Stygian-witch sort of character, wearing rough-spun peasant clothes and gathering herbs or brewing potions.

If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?

Wow, that’s a great question! I think it would be A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Of course she is no longer with us, so it’s not going to happen! But that book was so influential to me as a child. It was the first science fiction book that I ever read and it opened a world of possibility for me.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

Ooohh, a delicious question. I’m a huge fan of the Bard so I’d have to invite William Shakespeare. And since I’m inviting dead people, I’d also invite Charles Dickens, Madeleine L’Engle (and hopefully get that autograph we talked about ;-), and Robert Jordan (author of the Wheel of Time series). And speaking of the Wheel of Time, I’d love to meet my current book boyfriend, Rand Al’Thor in person so I’d invite him (so long as he promises not to channel the One Power and burn anything down).

But who wants a party with only dead people? I loved The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and I think she’d get along nicely with the ghost guests. Another favorite and all-around cool lady, I’d love for Anne Rice to attend. I think I owned at least one copy of every one of Anne’s books when I was in my 20’s and 30’s. And of course J.K. Rowling. I mean come on, any book party has to include the icon that pretty much created the YA genre. Finally, I’d want to meet Suzanne Collins. I’d love to pick her brain about many aspects of The Hunger Games trilogy.

We can discuss only three books?! Impossible!

Given the folks in attendance, it would be fun to compare and contrast the young protagonists/heroes of Hamlet, Harry Potter and Rand from Wheel of Time. And wouldn’t it be cool to get William Shakespeare’s opinions on Katniss Everdeen? Okay, that’s four books.

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

The invention that I want is teleportation. I’m ridiculously curious and want to see everything and love to travel and see new things. Even if I had an unlimited purse, the time (and pain in the arse) of travel makes it a drag. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could get into a telephone booth-type gadget and like Dr. Who, basically instantly and relatively painlessly travel to another part of the world? Or even another part of the galaxy?

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Okay, I’ve had some crappy jobs. Right up there was the summer between my senior year of high school and college when I worked at a SuperAmerica gas station/convenience mart (like a Circle K for west coasters). Absolute worst thing ever? Working on July 4 and a biker gang stopped and all of them used the toilet. I refuse to speak of what I had to clean up in that restroom!

The most difficult job though was my twenty years as a divorce lawyer. Better pay than the convenience mart job and I didn’t have to clean nasty bathrooms! But it was emotionally intense. I enjoyed helping people, but it was hard to be involved in rancor day-in and day-out.

Writing has its own difficulties, but I truly love every aspect of my writing life. I even like editing.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

Being a big fan of The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, I was super excited last year when I found out he would be at Bubonicon in Albuquerque. I had a table in the vendor area that was right across from George’s bookstore and though he didn’t work the table, he popped in from time-to-time to chat with the folks running it for him. I had several chances over the three days to at least say hello. I watched as other people approached him, respectfully, to get autographs.

I sat at my table and each time he walked by, it was like I had been hit by a spell that made me mute! I couldn’t even speak or make eye contact! I was so afraid of sounding like a babbling idiot that I didn’t even say hello.

Maybe next year I’ll work up the nerve to at least say hi.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I travel quite a bit to appear at sci-fi/fantasy cons, comic cons and book festivals. My next travel will be in late September for Salt Lake Comic Con. It’s my favorite large con (around 120,000+ people attend). It’s a gathering of nerds and geeks from all over the northwestern US and lots of readers! I’ll also be at Tucson Comic Con (TusCon) and the Mesa Book Festival this year.

Now that I’ve finished writing the H.A.L.F. series—which I worked on for seven years!—I’m free to explore anything. Exciting! I’m toying with the idea of writing a spin-off from the H.A.L.F. series involving the M’Uktah culture on their planet. I’m also developing an epic high fantasy series, but I’m keeping the details of that one quiet for now. If it goes as I envision, I think readers are going to love it.

About Author Natalie Wright:

Natalie is the author of the award-winning science fiction series H.A.L.F., and The Akasha Chronicles, a popular young adult fantasy trilogy with over 2 Million reads on Wattpad. She lives in Tucson, Arizona with her husband, teen daughter, and two cat overlords.

Natalie spends her time writing, reading, geeking out over nerd culture and cool science, and meeting readers and fans at book festivals and comic cons throughout the western United States. Natalie appears frequently on radio, podcasts and vlogs such as The Speculative Fiction Cantina, Front Row Geeks and iHeart Radio.

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Synopsis of H.A.L.F. The Deep Beneath, Book 1:

H.A.L.F. 9 has taken his first breath of desert air and his first steps in the human world. Created to be a weapon, he proved too powerful for his makers and has lived a sedated life hidden from humans. But H.A.L.F. 9 has escaped the underground lab he called home, and the sedation has worn off. He has never been more alive. More powerful. Or more deadly.

Erika Holt longs to ride her motorcycle east until pavement meets shore. She bides her time until graduation when she’ll say adios to the trailer she shares with her alcoholic mother and memories of her dead father. But a typical night in the desert with friends thrusts Erika into a situation more dangerous than she ever imagined.

Circumstances push the two together, and each must make a fateful choice. Will Erika help H.A.L.F. 9 despite her “don’t get involved” rule? And will H.A.L.F. 9 let Erika live even though he was trained to kill?

The two may need to forget their rules and training and if either is to survive the dangers of the deep beneath them.

Amazon ~ Audible

Synopsis of H.A.L.F. The Makers, Book 2:

Roswell. Area 51. The X-Files.

You’ve seen the aliens known as “the Greys” in movies and on TV. But what if everything you think you know about them is wrong?

And what if the Greys are only the beginning?

On a nondescript planet on the far side of the galaxy, the M’Uktah have evolved from a wolf-like predatory creature into a highly advanced species that has mastered intergalactic travel. They are cultured. Refined.

And hungry.

Erika Holt dodged death and departed Earth in an alien ship. It wasn’t how she’d planned to spend her senior year. Is she on her way to paradise? Or to a hell worse than the underground lab she escaped?

The greys rescued Tex from A.H.D.N.A. and have promised him a life he could never have imagined. But what will he have to give up to become one with the Conexus?

Jack Wilson is still Commander Sturgis’ prisoner but a promise of freedom comes from an unlikely source. Will his liberation cost more than he’s willing to pay?

Commander Sturgis has the vindication she craved and the alien war she prepared for. But while she cleans up the mess the aliens left behind, The Makers have other plans for Sturgis and her prized creation, Alecto.

Caught up in their personal battles, will any of them realize the threat that looms over us all before it’s too late?

Amazon ~ Audible

GIVEAWAY!!!

Each winner will be allowed to choose either Book 1 or Book 2 of the H.A.L.F. series. There will be 2 ebook winners and 2 audiobook winners. That’s 4 winners total! Giveaway is open international. Ends October 16, 2017, midnight. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Who are some of your favorite science fiction authors? If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why? Leave a way to contact you.

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Giveaway, Interview, & Review: Adam Vine, Author of Corruption

Author: Adam Vine

Narrator: Kevin Meyer

Series: Corruption Cycle, Book One

Length: 13 hours 57 minutes

Publisher: Lilydog Books

Released: July 18, 2017

Genre: Dark Fantasy

A dishonored swordsman running from his past.

A city shrouded in dark magic.

An antihero born.

Daniel Harper was champion, until a single mistake destroyed his fencing career forever. With nothing left to lose, he flees to Eastern Europe, where he can start over… where he can be someone else.

In the exotic, lantern-lit crevices of a nameless city, Daniel meets two people who open very different kinds of doors than the ones he is searching for: the troubled flower girl Kashka, who holds the key to a nightmarish otherworld; and the enigmatic street magician and self-professed love tourist Ink, who has the power to bend others to his will.

As Daniel plummets into a downward spiral of hedonism and dereliction, he is tormented by macabre visions of a frozen world in endless darkness where an evil tyrant has stolen the sun, where humanity’s remnants fight to scrape out a cruel existence underground, and wandering spirits inhabit the bodies of the recently deceased. Daniel is doomed to return to this Night Country every time he falls into a deep sleep. But the longer he spends there, the more Daniel realizes his curse is anything but an accident….

Adam Vine was born in Northern California. By day, he is a game writer and designer. He has lived in four countries and visited thirty. He is the author of two novels and many short stories. When he is not writing, he is traveling, reading something icky, or teaching himself to play his mandolin. He currently lives in Germany.

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Narrator Bio

Kevin Meyer is a devoted Midwesterner, raised in rural Wisconsin and transplanted to Tulsa, Oklahoma over three decades ago. A career-long voice-over and music radio guy, his iPhone playlist ranges from Alice Cooper and Waylon Jennings to Twenty One Pilots and The Zac Brown Band. Favorite reads are dominated by political biographies (Lincoln, Truman, Kennedy)… and Stephen King.

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This story was a bit different from what I normally read. First, you have Daniel Harper, an ex-Kendo champion, who has moved to an ex-Soviet country to work for a publishing company translating local works into English. Then you have the Night Country, a post-apocalyptic world that is dark, grim, cold, and cluttered with scary creatures where the Vermin (the last true humans) do their best to survive underground. Then we have a few bits about a very talented masked swordsman called the Rat Catcher, a nemesis of the Vermin.

This story is full of opposites and it caused opposite feelings in me. I was totally engaged all the way through and yet I don’t really like Daniel. Still, I found myself rooting for him; I want him to pull it together and become that hero this story is crying out for. The ladies at first are all sex objects and silly, one-dimensional things. This does change about 4 hours into the book with the Vermin. Those ladies can take care of themselves and then some! So, at first I was a little turned off the story but once we get some gender balance going on, I really started to love this story.

Let’s talk about the two main story lines. First Daniel is laden down by guilt over the death of his past girlfriend and this colors all this relationships. He seems to have given up on steering his own life and he’s willing to take guidance from anyone, including these two questionable guys he meets at the bar. Ugh! I just wanted to slap Daniel so many times. It’s like he’s ghosting through his own life, not really attached to it. I wonder if this is what Adam Vine wanted the reader to feel about Daniel.

So Daniel starts drinking too much on a regular basis and he asks any woman who gives him the chance if she’s French, because that’s the pick up line he was told to use by his new buddies at the bar. Yep, Daniel is not your typical hero, is he? Anyway, eventually he meets Kashka (who has her own issues) and he spends the rest of the book breaking up with her and getting back together. There’s also the Blot! Hahahaha! I’m surprised that’s the only thing he picked up.

Now to the Night Country. Daniel wakes up in clothes not his own in the freezing cold and right away he has to do a fight to the death with this eyeless hulk of a beastman. Then he comes across Zaea, a woman who also wonders how she got here to this frozen world. I loved the Night Country! Though Daniel takes his sweet time becoming an active participant in his own fate even in this messed up world.

The biologist in me reveled in the beasties of the Night Country. There’s giant mites! Not cat sized, not pig sized, no, they are house sized! Aaacchhhh! Run away! And the Vermin do, taking Daniel and Zaea prisoners as they flee. Now Zaea at first isn’t much more than a pretty face and someone for Daniel to ponder on how to flirt with. Later on she also comes into her own, demonstrating her skills.

The Rat Catcher and his overlord kind of tie everything together with this mystical spiral and some weird traveling and what not. I don’t understand it all yet, but I don’t think I’m supposed to. It does give a magical way for Daniel’s soul to travel between his humdrum translator job and his hopeful hero role in Night Country.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this book. It’s a bit of a mystery as to where it’s going but I like that’s it’s not your typical quest fantasy story.

The Narration: Kevin Meyer was a decent choice for this book. The volume was steady all the way through and I think there was only one repeated sentence in the whole performance. He makes a really great Daniel. However, his female voices were lacking femininity. Also, he doesn’t have a wide range of voices and didn’t use accents, so sometimes the characterizations weren’t distinct and I had to listen closely to keep track of who was saying what. I don’t know why he didn’t use accents for Daniel’s friends and colleagues in the ex-Soviet country, but perhaps the author asked him not to. He was really great at portraying Daniel’s emotions throughout the story. His narration definitely added to the suspense and the gravity of the tale as needed.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Adam Vine. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Dab of Darkness Interview with Author Adam Vine

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I wasn’t very good at cleaning the local coffee shop when I was a teenager. Writing is more fun.

If you were trapped in a dark fantasy world, which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

I don’t think I know any fantasy authors in real life well enough to answer this question properly, so I’ll say that I would prefer to surround myself with people who have useful skills: hunting, smithing, cooking, woodcraft, archery, fencing, telling great campfire stories…

What makes you cringe?

When readers trash books they didn’t finish. This is a rhetorical question, but: if one never reaches the end of a road, and has no idea of where it actually leads… how is that person qualified to give others directions?

What’s the most interesting gross fact you know?

My girlfriend got eaten alive by bedbugs recently, after staying a night at a sketchy hotel in the Scottish highlands. So I did a ton of research on those nasty little bloodsuckers. Did you know that bed bugs can survive for up to a year in your walls or in your box spring before they need to emerge and eat a blood meal?

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

A friend of a friend read my first novel, Lurk, and asked me about it during a barbeque at her house. She really picked my brain about the main character and why I chose to write him the way I did. I purposefully wrote the protagonist of that book as a rather unlikeable, unreliable narrator, which some readers have not been able to get past. But she totally got while I was trying to do, and this was a milestone moment for me as an author, because I don’t think anyone up to that point had ever spoken to me in such detail about my own work. Not awkward, but still a good memory. On the flip side, I exchanged emails with George R.R. Martin once. That was cool.

Which favorite bookish worlds would you like to visit?

The Shire seems nice.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Redwall was my first “real” series. I read tons of books before that, but that is the first series of complex books I remember diving deeply into without the help of grownups. I met the author, Brian Jacques, too. He was a kind and hilarious man.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

My dog, Lily. Teamwork makes the dream work. RIP.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Check out my debut novel, Lurk if you like horror. My next book is a short, standalone horror novel, tentatively titled Sindago, and will be out this winter. Book two of the Corruption Cycle is coming, too, but that won’t be out for at least a year.

Adam Vine is giving away 5 $10 Amazon gift cards – yep 5 winners! Runs Sep. 13th-20th, 2017. Open internationally.

Corruption Giveaway: $10 Amazon Gift Card (5 Winners)

Sep. 13th:
Notes from ‘Round the Bend

The Literary Apothecary

Sep. 14th:

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

It’s Novel to Me

Sep. 15th:

Lomeraniel

Shh I Am Reading

Adventures Thru Wonderland

Sep. 16th:

Blogger Nicole Reviews

Jazzy Book Reviews

Turning Another Page

Sep. 17th:

Wonder Struck

Loves Great Reads

Sep. 18th:

The Bookworm Lodge

Lilly’s Book World

Sep. 19th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

My Creatively Random Life

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Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Kevin Theis, Author & Narrator of Invading Nirvana

Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Kevin Theis.   Enjoy! Scroll to the bottom for the audiobook giveaway (Audible.com) of his newest mystery novel Invading Nirvana: A Chicagoan in the City of Angels

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Interesting question. I’ve been on a few movie and TV sets and find them fascinating, but if given the choice, I’d like to be on the set of a favorite director, like Scorcese or del Toro, just to see how they work. I’m sure that would be an amazing experience.

If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?

I would love to have a signed Vonnegut. Reading his books as a teenager changed my life and taught me that books can be hilarious and fun rather than just educational and stuffy. (And sometimes…they can be both.)

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

I lean towards the satirists and humorists, so my dream library would have a lot of Terry Prachett, Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell, Mark Twain and, just because he’s my favorite American author, John Steinbeck.

You land that most wanted stage role: what character are you playing and why does this role hold such significance to you?

Happily, I’ve already played them. I was given the great gift of being able to play both the title role in “Richard III” and Salieri in “Amadeus” and had the greatest experiences of my career.

Who are some of your favorite book villains?

No one wrote villains like Dickens. No one. I particularly love/despise Uriah Heep from “David Copperfield” and Daniel Quilp from “The Old Curiosity Shop.” Completely loathsome, the both of them.

What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

My house is fairly messy, though it is an “organized mess.” And though I’d like to think I can write anywhere, I much prefer the same little space where I can focus consistently.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

Vonnegut, but he wouldn’t eat. He’d just drink whiskey. Twain, who would order up some chicken and dumplings (and drink whatever Vonnegut left over). Hemingway, who would bum a cigar off Twain and bring his own bottle (and a rare steak). James Baldwin (who would likely order a sensible meal but then argue with everyone at the table). And then Dorothy Parker because she’d keep the conversation even more lively.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class on great plays, what works would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Shakespeare is a given, so let’s pass him over for a moment. No class on great plays would leave off Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, William Inge, Sam Shepard, Caryl Churchill, Edward Albee, Harold Pinter, Brian Friel, Lillian Hellman…boy, this list could be long.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I actually met Kurt Vonnegut once. I arranged to be in the lobby after the opening night of a stage adaptation of “Slaughterhouse Five” at Steppenwolf and approached him out of the blue to shake his hand and tell him how much he and his work meant to me. He could not have been less enthusiastic to meet me. His handshake was like gripping a dead fish. I did not care. I met my hero, whether he liked it or not.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I will be appearing as Charles Dickens in the world premiere of the play “A Dickens Carol” by author Ned Crowley at the Madison Street Theatre in Oak Park, Illinois this Christmas. Very excited about this new project.

About Author, Narrator, & Actor Kevin Theis:

Kevin has been an actor, writer, director and playwright in Chicago for 30 years.  He has written (and performed the audiobooks for) two of his own novels: “Confessions of a Transylvanian: a Story of Sex, Drugs and Rocky Horror” (co-written with Ron Fox) and “Invading Nirvana: a Chicagoan in the City of Angels.”
He has authored two published plays, adaptations of Thomas Heywood’s “The Fair Maid of the West” and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Sign of the Four,” (the latter in conjunction with Shanghai Low Theatricals), both of which are available through Dramatic Publishing.
He has appeared on stage in dozens of Chicago shows over the years, including roles at the Goodman Theatre, Next Theatre, Irish Theatre of Chicago and Oak Park Festival Theatre.  He has received three Joseph Jefferson nominations for his directing work and one for Best Actor in 2013.  He has also appeared on the television shows “Chicago Fire,” “Empire,” “Chicago P.D.” and “Betrayal” as well as the films “Just Visiting,” “Knacker” and “Double Dead.”
Kevin currently has over 180 audiobooks for which he provided the narration available on Audible.com 

 

Synopsis of Invading Nirvana:

Chicago theater veteran Kevin Theis, co-author of the cult classic Confessions of a Transylvanian: a Story of Sex, Drugs and Rocky Horror presents: Invading Nirvana: a Chicagoan in the City of Angels the story of one actor’s quixotic odyssey into the heart of the entertainment industry: Hollywood, California.

From the early preparations for his trip to La La Land to his search for representation, his encounters with the famous (and soon-to-be famous) as well as his deep-dive exploration of this unique and fascinating city, Invading Nirvana is a must-listen for anyone considering moving to L.A. to pursue a dream of breaking into show business.

The author is both candid and unsparing in his description of the industry, the city of Los Angeles, and the challenges of being a performer in Hollywood looking for work. Casting agents, pay-to-meet workshops, the comedy club scene, film and TV auditions, as well as a peek inside the audiobook world; every aspect of the entertainment industry is thoroughly examined in this hilarious and comprehensive look at life as a professional actor in Hollywood.

Audible ~ Amazon ~ GoodReads

GIVEAWAY!!!

Kevin Theis is offering up 10 audiobook copies of Invading Nirvana. Open to anyone with an Audible.com account. Ends October 6, 2017, midnight. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Do you have an Audible.com account? What has been your best stage play experience ever? Leave a way to contact you.

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Giveaway, Review, & Interview: Diane Moat, Author of The Magic Thief, Book 1 of The Supernatural Pet Sitter Series

Author: Diane Moat

Narrator: Barbara Goldie

Series: The Magic Thief, Book One

Length: 4 hours 3 minutes

Publisher: Diane Moat

Released: Aug. 3, 2017

Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy

Every animal can talk to you. You just have to know how to listen.

Pepper Neely is better at this than most, especially because she is in charge of pet sitting all the familiars in her neighborhood. A familiar is a pet magically linked to a witch or warlock. As a gnome, Pepper is no stranger to spells and sorcery. She also knows that, despite their special name, familiars aren’t all that different from regular animals. They get anxious when separated from their people, so Pepper uses her special gnome powers to calm them down. She watches Cranky the high-strung ferret, Frank the laid-back parrot, King Arthur the elderly tortoise, and many others.

Then, something terrible begins happening to the familiars. Someone is stealing their magic! It not only prevents Pepper from communicating with them but breaks their magical connection with their people. When King Arthur’s magic is stolen, his owner’s powers stop working too. Pepper can sense that the tortoise is very scared.

In order to protect the animal’s magic, Pepper decides to track down the culprit. With the help of her best friend, Luna, and her brother, Jax, Pepper fights to protect all of the special pets.

 

Diane Moat lives in Tennessee and works as a nurse and legal professional. When not at work, she fosters Chihuahuas. Her six rescues inspired her to write The Supernatural Pet Sitter children’s series, which features a gnome who can communicate with animals.

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Narrator Bio

Barbara Goldie grew up in Northern Kentucky, and then moved to Texas for several years, before deciding to pursue her dreams and follow her heart to the other side of this great planet we call Earth! Now living in Auckland, New Zealand, she is married to her soulmate and is loving her new life. Already a very devoted full-time voice actress, she has just recently started adding audiobooks to her resume of voiceover projects.

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This was a very enjoyable children’s book. Pepper is a great character. I love that she’s a gnome. It means that she doesn’t have magic herself other than her ability to calm and sometimes communicate with animals. Her family has friends all along the spectrum of characters: witches, warlock, werewolves, other gnomes, etc. She’s also not your typical tall, athletic heroine. She’s short, stout, and doesn’t fret over her looks. That’s my kind of hero!

There’s plenty of animals in this story as well. King Arthur was a favorite, being an elderly tortoise. Each critter has its own needs, not just for their species but as individuals. It’s horrible that someone is stealing the power of these animal familiars. Pepper is key in figuring this out since the magical community is initially worried it was some virus or magical affliction.

The friendship between Pepper and Luna is a good solid one even though they come from different parts of the magical community. Luna is from a family of witches and is in training to be one herself. A witch’s powers are supposed to be kept top secret and never to be revealed outside of the witching community. However, she and Pepper have been best friends for many years and Pepper may have inadvertently learned some small things about witchcraft. That’s going to cause some complications with parents all around!

Speaking of parents, I found Mrs. Pepper to be a rather strict parent at first. Later in the story, that’s explained as part of the Gnomish culture so I was OK with it. Pepper’s dad works in a local salt mine near their town of Ithaca, NY. He’s vital in keeping the mine running smoothly even if the non-magical folk have no idea of his importance. Pepper’s older brother Jax was also a favorite character. At first, he was just an annoying older brother but he plays a bigger role later one.

The mystery of the stolen familiar powers was pretty straight forward but our villain, once revealed, was a scary and potentially deadly foe. The ending is full of action and suspense as Pepper and companions have to outwit this antagonist. I was quite satisfied by how things turned out. There’s no cliff hangers but there’s plenty of room to explore another adventure with Pepper.

The Narration: Barbara Goldie was perfect as Pepper. She has this great voice for this Gnomish kid who’s caught up in adult business. Goldie had distinct voices for all the characters and her male voices were believable, especially for Jax. I liked her voice for the villain as well. The pixie voice was quite well done too.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Diane Moat. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Dab of Darkness Interview with Author Diane Moat

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

It holds all the collections of libraries long past or destroyed, with every extinct book from the first book ever written, forward. And it has a huge overstuffed chair that fits my butt only, and a big fireplace, and ice cold soda, and hot pizza, and…

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

For books, I would love to read “The Wrinkle in Time” series all over again. It was the first time I read a story which made me fantasize about other worlds. For TV series, I would watch “Lost”. I’m still not sure I caught 100% of the twists and I want to try again.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

My worst job was my first job. It was as a cashier at a department store. My feet still hurt when I remember it, and customers always seemed unhappy. The biggest difference between that and writing, is that there were clear rules as a cashier. Follow the rules and you were successful. Writing has no rules, and no guarantee of a paycheck, but my feet don’t hurt and I love what I’m doing.

What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Doggies always giving you a helping paw? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

I have four Chihuahuas, and I can’t seriously write without one of them next to me. The area looks like controlled chaos. It’s a mess to strangers, but I know exactly where everything is. I can write little snippets anywhere, especially when a thought strikes me. For anything more than that, I have to be in the cave.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

I was a total introvert. I didn’t even know ‘normal’ people could write stories. I thought authors were some mythical creatures with special backgrounds.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

Of course, Edgar Allen Poe. He’d order some meat and would have it bloody/rare.
Jackie Collins. I don’t know what she would order-I’m more interested in what she would wear.
Tom Clancy: Whatever he ordered would be a secret.
Tony Hillerman: He’d order bear or deer meat.
Bram Stoker: Something with a good red wine.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Something from the Nancy Drew series.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional, human or animal)?

I’d bring my dog, Minnie. She can go over, under, or around anything at the speed of light as long as peanut butter is involved.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I’m working on a new “shifter” romance novel, called “A Hand of Magic”. It’s definitely for grown-ups only. I’m also working on the third installment of “The Supernatural Pet Sitter”. I’m enjoying having two books in the works at the same time!

This giveaway is for a $25 VISA gift card. Runs Sep. 3rd-10th⎮Continental US Only

The Supernatural Pet Sitter Giveaway: $25 Visa Card

Sep. 3rd:

Dab of Darkness

Sep. 4th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

Adventures Thru Wonderland

Sep. 5th:

Lomeraniel

Turning Another Page

Sep. 6th:

The Literary Apothecary

Sep. 7th:

Desert Rose Reviews

Sep. 8th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

The Layaway Dragon

Sep. 9th:

He Said Books Or Me

Jorie Loves A Story

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Paperbook Giveaway & Interview: Michael H. Rubin, Author of Cashed Out

Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Michael H. Rubin.  We chat about jazz, EB White, Oliver Twist, and plenty more! Enjoy! Scroll to the bottom for the paperbook giveaway (USA only) of his newest mystery novel Cashed Out.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

I’m reluctant to suggest new endings to any novel, because, as an author, I am mindful of the time and thought it takes to create believable characters and work out intricate plot lines that involve a protagonist and his or her adversaries.

If I had to choose which literary villain could have a different, somewhat happier ending, however, I’d consider Bill Sykes in Charles Dicken’s OLIVER TWIST. Bill Sykes is a brutal, tyrannical man who kills Nancy, the only person who ever truly loved him. The murder scene is graphic. Fagan, on the other hand, another miscreant of Dickens’ imagination in the same novel, exhibits a hint of humanity, for he seems to possess some small degree of concern for the welfare of the boys he sends out to pick pockets. Bill Sykes, on the other hand, is vicious and evil to the core; he ends up hanging himself while trying to escape a mob.

If I had to create a happy ending, it would involve Sykes getting caught by the mob, convicted of his crimes, sentenced to a long prison term, and then, upon release as an old man, finding redemption by starting a school for homeless children.

Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten its deserved amount of attention?

One can find stereotypical novels with clichéd characters in any genre, but in every genre there are also transcendent literary classics that were originally pigeonholed into a specific, if limiting, category. For example, Ray Bradbury wrote what some would call “science fiction” or “fantasy,” but novels of his like FAHRENHEIT 451 transcend that genre. Therefore, I’m more interested in authors who, regardless of being thought of as “genre-writers,” find a way to write compelling novels that attract readers who do not initially think that they would be interested in “such a story.”

It’s time for you to host the book club. Whom do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

When I appear at book clubs, I give multimedia presentations about the background of my novels. If I were hosting a book club, I’d invite Dashiell Hammett, E.B. White, and Dorothy Parker. Hammett wrote THE MALTESE FALCON and other classic detective novels. E.B. White, who worked for the New Yorker, wrote CHARLOTTE’S WEB, as well as THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE to which many writers today still refer. Parker was a short story writer known for her wit and was part of the Algonquin Round Table, along with Robert Benchley and Alexander Woollcott.

I’d love to hear Hammett, White, and Parker address the art of writing in conjunction with a discussion of Agatha Christie’s MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, Raymond Chandler’s THE LONG GOODBYE, and Truman Capote’s IN COLD BLOOD.

The Desert Island Collection: what music makes it into your MP3 player and why?

As a former professional jazz pianist who’s played in the New Orleans French Quarter, this questions is difficult, because there are so many great jazz artists. Any collection I would bring with me, however, would have to include works by Dave Brubeck and his quartet, and pianists Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, and Fats Waller.

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I’d love to see the movie Chinatown for the first time again. It is a wonderful film noir set in a historically accurate milieu. Though all the clues are provided to the audience, the resolution of the crime and the film’s ending nonetheless come as a surprise to the first -time viewer.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

My most difficult job was when I was a teenager working on a labor crew at an oil refinery in South Louisiana at the height of a blisteringly hot summer. My job was to check all the fire hydrants at the huge, mile-long facility and grease all the fittings on every hydrant— there was one hydrant every fifty yards. It was exhausting work, but I felt satisfaction when I finally completed the task. Writing is not exhausting for me. It is invigorating. As was the case with my job at the refinery, however, I feel exhilarated upon completing a manuscript, no matter how long it takes me to do so.

What are the top 3 historical time periods and locations you would like to visit?

This is an intriguing question, because our view of the past is always colored by our concerns about the present and the future. To see the past as it really was, at a time when people did not know what the future would bring, would be amazing.

First, I’d welcome the opportunity to be in New Orleans in 1884 during the World Cotton Centennial. This event, which factors into my debut novel, THE COTTONCREST CURSE, occurred when New Orleans was the center of the world’s cotton trade. To have been there and seen what were touted as the “modern wonders” of the world at that time would be fascinating.

Second, I’d like to visit in London in the early 1950s, as it was emerging from the post-war depravations, bombed-out portions of the city were being rebuilt, and the intrigues of the Cold War were starting.

Third, as a professional jazz musician, I’d love to have been in the New Orleans French Quarter at the turn of the twentieth century when the jazz era was just beginning.

If you could own a famous or historical art work, what would it be? Would you put it on public display or keep it privately?

Gustav Klimt’s Judith, painted in 1901, marvelously captures an elegant woman’s personality, and the striking gold leaf that forms her necklace and surrounds her continues to astonish viewers. Of course, this portrait should be kept on public display, for great art can inspire all of us. While artists create for their own pleasure, it is their hope that their creations will have a lasting legacy. Art, whether visual, literary, or musical, should be celebrated, for art that is hidden is inspiration concealed.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

The first real “chapter” book I remember reading was one of the Hardy Boys mysteries. That got me hooked on mysteries and thrillers. I recall, at age 13, asking that my birthday gift be a book of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes short stories. I’ve been a fan of the genre ever since.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I’ll be appearing on panels at two upcoming conventions for readers and writers of thrillers, KillerNashville, held in a suburb of Nashville August 24-27, and Bouchercon, held this year in Toronto from October 11-15. Additionally, I’ll not only be appearing on a panel at the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, the oldest bookstore in the country devoted to mysteries and thrillers, but I’ll also be a presenter at the Readers and Writers Symposium in St. Francisville, Louisiana, an event that attracts readers and authors from all over the South. Additionally, I’ll be giving multimedia presentations about my novels at book clubs around the country, as well as making live presentations to book clubs via Skype and Facetime. I welcome inquiries from book clubs that would like to have me give a multimedia Skype or Facetime presentation to them. They can contact me through my website, www.mrubinbooks.com

About Author Michael H. Rubin:

Michael H. Rubin is a former professional jazz pianist and composer who has performed in several states, as well as in clubs in the New Orleans French Quarter. He also is a television and radio host; a public speaker and humorist; and a full-time practicing trial and appellate attorney who helps manage a law firm with offices from the West Coast to the Gulf Coast to the East Coast. His unique blend of scholarship and humor has made him a sought-after, nationally-known speaker who has given over 400 presentations throughout the U.S., Canada, and England to a variety of groups ranging from Fortune 500 companies to professional organizations to community and religious groups.

Rubin has received the prestigious Burton Award at the Library of Congress for outstanding writing. His debut novel, “The Cottoncrest Curse,” won the IndieFab Book of the Year Gold Award as the best thriller and suspense novel published by a university or independent press.

Combining an informal approach with scholarship, thought-provoking commentary, and humor, Rubin has created a signature audio-visual presentation style using a computer and a projector to illustrate his substantive talks. Consisting of a constantly moving and shifting display of multiple layers of photos, illustrations, and words, nothing remains static on the screen for long, and everything is timed to reinforce Rubin’s rapid-fire, in-depth analysis. Attendees at Rubin’s programs have given him enthusiastic ratings, including “Best talk I ever heard,” “Rubin was great,” and “Fantastic.”

Locations where Rubin has wowed audiences with his unique presentation style include: Atlanta, Austin, Beverly Hills, Boston, Bretton Woods, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Des Moines, Destin, Honolulu, Hot Springs, Houston, Jackson (Mississippi), Kansas City, Las Vegas, Lexington, Lincoln (Nebraska), London (England), Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Orange Beach, Orlando, Palm Beach, Point Clear (Alabama), Poipu (Hawaii), Providence, Reno, Rockport, Salt Lake City, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Savannah, Seattle, Shreveport, Sun Valley, Toronto, Vancouver, Virginia Beach, Harvard Law School, Georgetown Law School, Hastings Law School, and the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.

Rubin’s presentations about both the history behind the mystery of “The Cottoncrest Curse” and the background of “Cashed Out” are not dry, talking-head lectures or boring readings. Each consists of a 20-minute fast-paced multimedia presentation that captivates audiences, as he ties the situations and issues in the book about which he is speaking to local concerns and events in the geographic area where he is giving his talk.

He is a member of the Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers, and the International Association of Crime Writers.

Website ~ Facebook ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

Synopsis of Cashed Out:

One failed marriage. Two jobs lost. Three maxed out credit cards. “Schex” Schexnaydre was a failure as a lawyer. Until three weeks ago, he had no clients and no cash — no clients except for infamous toxic waste entrepreneur G.G. Guidry, who’s just been murdered, and no cash, except for the $4,452,737 Guidry had stashed with him for safekeeping.

When Schex’s estranged ex-wife, Taylor, is accused of Guidry’s murder, she pleads with Schex to defend her. He refuses, but the more he says no to Taylor, the deeper Schex gets dragged into the fall-out from Guidry’s nefarious schemes, ending up as the target of all those vying to claim Guidry’s millions for themselves.

Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

Michael Rubin is offering up 1 paperbook copy of Cashed Out. Open to USA only due to shipping costs. Ends October 1, 2017, midnight. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Do you have a USA shipping address? What was the best musical experience you have ever had? Leave a way to contact you.

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Paperbook Giveaway & Interview: Lisa Pell, Author of the Dystortions Series

Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Lisa Pell.  We chat about George Orwell, the Beatles, and plenty more! Enjoy! Scroll to the bottom for the paperbook giveaway (USA only) of her newest novel Dystortions: Purple Haze.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Magical Mystery Tour, by/starring The Beatles. I would have loved to have been riding in the bus with John, Paul, George, and Ringo, just making up stuff as we went along, especially as John performed “I am the Walrus,” one of my favorites. Maybe I would be juggling eggs as the Egg Woman? Or, scrambling eggs on a hotplate to remind Paul of his initial working title for “Yesterday?” Or eating eggs like Paul Newman in the movie Cool Hand Luke, or singing “I am the Eggman” with a toilet seat around my neck standing in a bowl of cornflakes throwing eggs at the audience like my character Paul Marks in my new novel, Dystortions: Purple Haze (coming August 31, 2017, published by Black Rose Writing). Those familiar with the Beatles song might appreciate I once created an oil painting depicting Edgar Allen Poe sitting on a cornflake next to the Eiffel tower with an egg being cracked over his head as a raven watches. That’s the kind of zany stuff I love to do and write about.

What mystery in your own life could be a plot for a book?

Well, after a fertility specialist told me my dad wasn’t my biological father if genetic and blood tests were to be believed, I fictionalized a mystery about a search for my biological father in my novel, Who’s Your Daddy, Baby? (Aberdeen Bay, 2012). But I’m thinking of another mystery now about how slightly different twists and turns of fate might have changed the course of my life and still could in the future, maybe even on another planet should technology evolve enough to make that a possibility in my lifetime. That may seem a far-fetched mental exercise, but maybe that’s just the escapism of middle age. Of course, the danger of escapism is you can end up a bit player in your own life story. My protagonist in the Dystortions series, Addy O’ Malibul, suffers through some horrible situations, is at times barely beyond comatose, but emotionally survives through fantasy. The mystery question is, will she eventually learn and benefit from her various virtual and physical escapes?

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

The 1960s. I was a child in the 1960s and wished I was a bit older to be more a part of all the excitement of the times. I remember the JFK assassination, watching television non-stop for days, but not much about the man as President, except for what I read about him later. I might have joined the Peace Corps if I’d been older. Then the next big television event – the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. Pretty cool for my fifth birthday. A certified Beatlemaniac at that point, due in large part to listening to my babysitter’s 45s (A and B side singles records), my mother made sure we were in town at a great aunt’s house, so the television reception would be at its best in the mountainous area. Later, she wanted to take me to the 1966 concert in Washington, D.C., but Beatles concerts were notoriously nuts. Mom worried the scene might be too crazy for a 7-year-old, especially with the threat of Ku Klux Klan protests over John Lennon’s offhand comment comparing the popularity of Jesus and the Beatles. Also, having recently moved and now a newcomer to the D.C. area, she was nervous about driving in the big city. So, she delayed purchasing the tickets she couldn’t really afford on a teacher’s salary. Mom cried when she told me we couldn’t go. She loved the Beatles too. On our limited budget, she told me the only albums we could afford to buy were Beatles albums because they “are brilliant classics that will be popular forever.”

My fascination with the 1960s, especially the music, was an inspiration for my new novel, Dystortions: Purple Haze. I call it a rock ‘n’ roll mystery in a parallel universe. As reviewers have put it, the rather “brazen” but “clever” dystortions of stories of the 60s will take you on a magical mystery trip to fly higher in the sky than the iconic Lucy of Beatles fame. You have to have a sense of humor to appreciate this “flight of sci-fi fantasy that spirals wildly out of control,” exploring the lighter and darker sides of events on a planet named Malaprop, eerily reminiscent of what would be considered fake news on Earth. Buckle up to join the journey through the generally humorous dystortions, but also the violence and the sexual revolution of the sixties. There are dabs of darkness. Much of Dystortions: Purple Haze is Malaproppriate.

What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

George Orwell. I would love to chat about his ideas for dystopian worlds, which seem to be coming closer to reality every day, and provided inspiration for my Dystortions series. I like books that use metaphor and dry humor on several levels, which can be especially entertaining if you know your history. Sometimes fiction can reveal underlying truths to inspire deeper thoughts. You can read Orwell’s books for just the plot, and/or you can really think about them, which can scare the Hell out of you without having to conjure up Zombies, White Walkers, or other supernatural creatures from the crypt or beyond.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

Oh, it would have to be Anastazia Steelhead from Dystortions: Purple Haze, to Anastasia Steele in 50 Shades of Grey. As a reader of Grey, I wanted to smack Miss Steele for signing a contract to submit to painful abuse. As a subplot for my purple hued Dystortions, my protagonist, Addy O’Malibul, suggests Miss Steelhead might want to stand up for herself a bit more. Maybe I’m adding a dab more lightness to the story there.

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Mad Men. There are so many priceless scenes that bring back memories of the sixties with timeless themes, light and dark, funny and thought-provoking. How much have we evolved from the “isms” of the sixties regarding race, gender, and sexual orientation? As Santayana said, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. History repeating itself across the universe is a theme that fascinates me, which I have enjoyed exploring in my Dystortions series.

How does modern pop culture influence your work? Do modern cultural references date a piece or add touchstones for the reader?

My work distorts, and in some cases, parodies modern pop culture. I hope modern cultural references add touchstones for the reader to make the progression of a story more believable, relevant, and fun.

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

The Star Trek replicator, which could eliminate greed, hunger, the need for money, and many wars if everyone could make whatever he or she needed or wanted and wasn’t subjected to so much thought manipulation rooted in battles over resources. We’re getting closer to replicator reality as 3-D printers become more technologically advanced, but there still are some raw material resource issues to resolve. As written in “Imagine,” John Lennon indeed was not the only one wanting to join the journey to a world where all could live as one more easily without all the trappings of guarded possessions. Just hope we don’t have to mine the moon and Mars and move to space stations anytime soon to get there.

Is there a book to movie or TV adaptation that you found excellent?

The Harry Potter series. The books and the movies are brilliant, classics that will stand the test of time. Fantasy sometimes reveals more about the world than reality, which probably is at least part of the reason the Harry Potter series resonates so well in our times. We appear to be moving toward a state of being where, in some situations, fantasies may become true, at least temporarily, through virtual realities and artificial intelligence. Think of all the new virtual reality gaming systems and the Star Trek hologram recreation centers allowing crew members to live in imaginary worlds to take a break from reality for a while. There have been so many sci-fi stories about bodies/brains of the future being hooked up to life subsistence machines, where the individual souls inside those brains live a life of the fantasy of their choosing – or are manipulated for various well-meaning or nefarious purposes. Cryogenics experiments add a whole new dimension to the idea of future fantasies of the dead when people have their bodies frozen, hoping to come back in a new era or universe. In all these scenarios, think of the horrors of hacking, or some sort of technological apocalypse where we end up in Planet of the Apes, Mad Max, or the Hunger Games, suddenly having to wake up from fantasies and live like savages without technology. As J.K. Rowling noted, beware gazing too long into the Mirror of Erised, getting too caught up in wishful thinking or the dramas of others, and missing out on your own life. Fiction writers by nature have to have an understanding of escapism and, hopefully, its limits. My main protagonist in the Dystortions series, Addy O’Malibul, sometimes chooses to spend more time watching others than living her messed up life, and who could blame her in her situation. But back to Harry Potter, I also dab a bit into child prodigies, wizards of their professions, and tip my hat to the inspiration of J.K. Rowling through my character Jon McGuiness in Dystortions: Purple Haze.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I was fortunate enough to meet the late great Pat Conroy a few years ago, and was so overcome with awe I became tongue-tied, could only say “I love your work. You are an inspiration.” Wow, now isn’t that original? Bet he heard that more than a million times. But he graciously thanked me and posed for a photo, one I treasure.

About Author Lisa Pell:

A former newspaper and television journalist, Lisa is rockin’ her third
novel, “Dystortions: Purple Haze.” It follows “Dystortions: 100 Hues
of Purple,” which received five star ratings and was described by
“Kirkus Reviews” as “enormously fun to read.” It’s a quirky sci-fi
series with just enough wacked-out science to make it believable.
Connoisseurs of well-told stories and rock ‘n’ roll music, Lisa and her
husband, the self-styled Agent Provocateur, JonRe Pell, live in the
Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Website Facebook ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

Synopsis of Dystortions: Purple Haze:

Dystortions: Purple Haze will take you on a magical mystery trip to fly higher in the sky than the iconic Lucy of Beatles’ fame. Join the journey of former journalist Addy O’Malibul as she watches the meteoric rise of her favorite rock musician, Jon McGuiness, a member of a band called The Scarubs. The story is based on a planet named Malaprop, where radio waves from Earth have been twisted to shout across the universe and wreak helter skelter on an imaginary world far in our future. Addy moves beyond her dilemma in Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple to a place warmer and more colorful than any shades of grey, but there’s still a purple room of pain. Addy will learn she’s more connected to Jon than through a television set. And Jon McGuiness is one cool dude. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss.

Amazon 

GIVEAWAY!!!

Lisa Pell is offering up 1 paperbook copy of Dystortions: Purple Haze. Open to USA only due to shipping costs. Ends September 30, 2017, midnight. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Do you have a USA shipping address? What was the best musical experience you have ever had? Leave a way to contact you.

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Bookish Giveaway & Interview: Marc Secchia, Author of the Shapeshifter Dragons Series

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Folks, please give a warm welcome to historical fiction author Marc Secchia. I recently had the pleasure of listening to his book, Aranya: Shapeshifter Dragons Book 1 which follows the dragonish adventures of Aranya and her friends.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Snape – well, he’s not so much a villain, but he is a beautifully conflicted character who I found myself rooting for almost despite my instincts. Very well-written indeed.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

African fiction. I believe this is one of the most underrepresented fields of literary endeavour and I’d love to see powerful African voices taking their place on the world stage.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I’d choose a dragon. They are Fantasy’s finest and most magical creatures and they’d undoubtedly possess the skills and magic to pull off a crazy rescue.

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Definitely The Lord of the Rings. It’s the classic fantasy tale of the insidious, corrupting power of evil and the courage of those who choose to stand against it. Peter Jackson did an awesome job of bringing the tale to the big screen, but I still love the rhythm, detail and power of the original text. I’d love to dive into that world afresh because it’s just incredibly immersive and every detail is thought out.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

There are so many terrific books out there that would make amazing movies, it’s hard to choose. Let me throw out a classic author’s name here – Anne McCaffrey. I think it’s a travesty her works have never made it to screen, although some of the mores are a bit dated I think this series would still resonate with so many people, not just Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans. I’d play Robinton, the Master Harper of Pern.

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Let’s see … Dumbledore since we’re having a smallish Potteresque vibe here, Aladdin if he doesn’t come in his canned-and-potted Disney guise, since he’d have plenty of fun tales to tell, and it’s weird I know but I think Mulan just kicks it in her world and time. Two more (scratches chin) … Killashandra from one of my favourite books of all time, the Crystal Singer omnibus by Anne McCaffrey, and Aragorn from LOTR. Maybe I’d throw in a dragon just to liven things up. Toothless is awesome but not much of a conversationalist. He’d just have to make funny faces.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I live and work in Ethiopia so that’s a little different to most. I love to play music – I play a range of woodwinds such as flute, panflute and Irish whistle – and when I’ve a quiet evening I love nothing more than a relax with an epic book.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Ha ha, it’s really boring, but it’s one of those “learn-to-read” books about Kathy and Mark I think. After that must come Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and then I had a Hardy Boys binge before graduating to older books.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Well, I’ve a sale coming up on 15th/16th August when I’m going to take a run at getting one of my books into the Top 10 free books on all Amazon. If you’d like to sample my work, Aranya will be free on the 15th and it is a bestseller in Coming of Age fantasy. http://smarturl.it/draconic

Secondly, I’m really excited about the release of Dragonstar on August 16th. It’s the 4th book in my Dragonfriend series and the culmination of the series. http://smarturl.it/dragonstar

I think you’ll love the cover art for this series – do check it out, thanks!

Check out more interviews, spotlights, & reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Marc Secchia:

Marc is a South African-born dragon masquerading as an author, who loves writing about dragons and Africa, preferably both at the same time. He lives and works in Ethiopia with his wife and 4 children, 2 dogs 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.

He’s the author of 21 fantasy books in 3 languages (2 more languages coming this year – watch this space!), including 8 rip-roaring dragon fantasy bestsellers. Dragonfriend won a Gold Award for Fantasy in the 2016 IPPY Book Awards. Look out for Whisper Alive, his latest release. The 4th tale in the Dragonfriend series, Dragonstar, is coming soon!

When he’s not writing about Africa or dragons 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.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Amazon ~ GoodReads

Synopsis of Aranya:

Chained to a rock and tossed off a cliff by her boyfriend, Aranya is executed for high treason against the Sylakian Empire. Falling a league into the deadly Cloudlands is not a fate she ever envisaged. But what if she did not die? What if she could spread her wings and fly?

Long ago Dragons ruled the Island-World above the Cloudlands. But their Human slaves cast off the chains of Dragonish tyranny. Humans spread across the Islands in their flying Dragonships, colonizing, building, and warring. Now the all-conquering Sylakians have defeated the last bastion of freedom – the Island-Kingdom of Immadia.

Evil has a new enemy. Aranya, Princess of Immadia. Dragon Shapeshifter.

Series Note

There is a companion series to Aranya, set in the same unique Island-World above the Cloudlands. Aranya is the last of the Dragons – or is she? Find out why the Dragons disappeared in The Pygmy Dragon, now available on Kindle.

Audible ~ Amazon ~ iTunes ~ Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Shiromi Arserio:

A native of London, England, Shiromi Arserio is a stage actor, voice talent and audiobook narrator. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance. In addition to narrating dozens of audiobooks, her voice can be heard in documentaries, e-learning projects and video games such as Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion. Shiromi currently resides in the Seattle area with her husband and her two furbabies.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ SoundCloud ~ IMDB

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a $50 Amazon gift Card. Open internationally! Ends August 16th, 2017.

Aranya Giveaway: $50 Amazon Gift Card

Interview: Scott Rhine, Author of the Military SF Novel Void Contract

Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Scott Rhine. We chat about what authors we’d want by our sides in difficult times or in a classroom, first book, and plenty more. Enjoy!

1) If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

The Lost Room. My character would give out the items to people who ask me for handouts on the street.

2) If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Jaime in Game of Thrones. I would have had him realize that Brienne could rock his world.

3) What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Carrying a beeper for software customer support and having workers in India page me when they had any questions at all. It gave me an ulcer. Writing may have ups and downs, but creating relieves stress.

4) You are stuck in space in dire straights. Which science fiction authors would you want with you?

Allen Steele, hard sci-fi expert who has written a lot on space.
Carl Sagan, because he knows a little about everything science and math.
Robert Heinlein because I think he actually worked with radar in WWII.

5) If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

NF
Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style”
Stephen King’s “On Writing”
Campbell’s “The Power of Myth”

SHORTS/HISTORY
Arthur C Clarke’s “Tales from the White Hart”
Asimov’s “I Robot”
Card “Ender’s Game” the short story.
Gibson “Burning Chrome”

FIC
Zelazny’s “Lord of Light” for incorporating myth.
Kress’s “Beggars in Spain” for taking a simple idea to the furthest extent.
Vinge’s “A Fire on the Deep”
Niven/Pournelle “Mote in God’s Eye”
Haldeman “There is No Darkness”
Williams “Voice of the Whirlwind”
Stephenson “Snow Crash”

mention:
Heinlein “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”
Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse 5”
Simmon’s “Endymion”
Brinn “Startide Rising”
Vance “Languages of Pao”

6) Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I correspond about once a year with LE Modesitt. I’m a huge fan. When I told him that I modeled the Batman feel of my latest novel “Quantum Zero Sentinel” after his “Flash/Archform” world, he asked me to send him a copy of the paperback.

It’s an awesome world.

7) What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

The best strategy for getting experience points in Pokemon Go. My kids both backed me against my wife, who values each monster she has nurtured and doesn’t want to trade any.

8a) Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works?

Guildenstern and Rosencrantz
The dagger in Brust’s Jhereg series

8b) What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

In “Foundation for the Lost”, Eoin goes on a front-lawn Santa hunt with a baseball bat and a pack of Guinness. I end up reading that scene when I visit the local library for events. Elves who hate Santa strike people as funny.

In “Empress of Dreams”, one of mothers of a contestant is the ultimate dirty-tricks mistress. You just have to love Lady Evershade because she is so committed and scares the tar out of the heroes. Though she is a pure product of her culture, and the ideal aristocrat’s wife.

9) What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

10) You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

Ang from Last Airbender. If I could make it funny, he’d help me win.

About Author Scott Rhine:

Scott Rhine wanted to find a job that combined his love of reading with math problem solving, so he studied both short stories and computer languages. As a techno-gypsy, he worked on optimizing some of the fastest and largest supercomputers in the world. A couple of degrees, patents, and children later, at forty-eight, he still didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up. When his third publication, “Doors to Eternity,” hit #16 on the Amazon epic fantasy list, he decided to become a full-time author. Since then, each book of his “Jezebel’s Ladder” series hit the high-tech science fiction top 100. His new medical thriller, “the K2 Virus,” is his highest rated novel with the first 12 reviews ranking it five stars.

Humor is a part of every story he writes because people are funny, even when they don’t think so. In the real world, something always goes wrong and people have flaws. If you can’t laugh at yourself, someone is probably doing it for you. Strong female characters also play a major role in his stories because he’s married to a beautiful PhD who can edit, break boards, and use a chainsaw.

Website | Facebook

Synopsis of Void Contract:

Max Culp escaped his low-tech home world by serving in the marines as a medic. Unable to adapt to civilian life as a medical intern, he joined Special Forces to track down the Phib war criminals who caused his recurring nightmares. By the time the final Phib is captured, Max has become an urban legend among the aliens. He isn’t sure how to apply those skills to a new life until someone kidnaps his last surviving friend.

Audible ~ Amazon

Interview: Jeremy Flagg, Author of the Children of Nostradamus Series

Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Jeremy Flagg. We chat about his love of graphic novels, the hope for a Salvatore-based tabletop game, and plenty more.

Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten its deserved amount of attention?

Currently with the boom of comic book movies and TV shows, I’m honestly surprised the same hasn’t happened in the literary world. I grew up on comic books, in fact, it’s how I learned to read. However, the jump from illustrated stories to novelization seems to be a slow process. With only a few breakouts such as Brandon Sanderson or Peter Clines, the market is vastly underserved. But despite the market having yet to sway in that direction, there are some amazing superhero inspired stories happening. I think the ability to get inside the head of the hero makes it a unique medium that brings a lot to the table for the genre.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I’m a superhero writer, I should pick a superhero, but I think I’d have to go with the supernatural. There is something about these myths and folklore that continue to make us wonder. I like the idea that there is a world we’re not quite sure about. I’m curious to see what wonders there are. Granted, with my luck I’d be stuck with a grumpy gnome saving me.

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

I’m a 90’s kid through and through. I was born in the early 80’s, and loved the music of the time, but nothing will surpass the 90’s for me. My playlists are filled with songs from the late 90’s and even the weird look we had during that period sticks with me. Despite that though, there’s a bit of an 80’s child hiding in there. I secretly like to think I’m a punk in corporate clothing.

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

We’re on the verge of so many emerging technologies, I think it’s fascinating to see how much science fiction has simply become science. Still, the thing I’m dying to see is the computer screen from Minority Report. I find myself frequently annoyed that I don’t have enough screen space and constantly flipping through windows. I frequently have my laptop hooked up to a TV and my iPad next to me. It’d be amazing to have it all in one place and just be able to manipulate it with my hand. We’re not far from it, I think this one may actually happen during my lifetime.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Not the worst by a long stretch, but definitely the most difficult would have to be teaching high school. I’ve been a high school art teacher for a decade now and it’s a demanding job. You’re constantly pushing kids to be creative and step outside their comfort zone. It’s extremely rewarding, but after a day of wrestling with kids, you find yourself lacking the creativity to do your own work. There are the hand full of kids who give back as much as you put in, and those have been the ones that continue to inspire. Writing on the other hand, during my off months is a walk in the park. The only temperamental thing I have to deal with is my laptop, and that’s nowhere near as complicated as wow-ing a room of twenty-five teenagers. The only difficulty is in forcing myself to sit down and write when I have the time (which isn’t too difficult for me.)

You’re granted a super power and given the chance to team up with 4 other superheroes (or supervillains). What power do you have and who have you teamed up with?

The obvious answer is teleportation. I will always want the ability to teleport. I hate going places, but I’m always happy once I’m there. As for the others I would team up with? Not that I haven’t thought about this in depth, but it’d be Nightcrawler, Colossus, Magneto (every time needs the slightly villainous character) and Phoenix. That’d pretty much be the unstoppable superhero team. I may have spent more than a little time figuring this out (aka a lot.)

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

I would love to see R.A. Salvatore’s Demon War Saga turned into some sort of tabletop game. Salvatore has a wonderfully unique perspective on traditional fantasy and I think it’d make for a great storyline. I’d love it even more if it were turned into a console game similar to Skyrim. I’d want to play Pony, one of my favorite female leads who wields magic and her female intuition like a weapon. That’d be a pretty badass game.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in comics & graphic novels, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

I actually teach a college class about graphic novels. There are a variety of great pieces that should be in there. I like to blend great stories such as the Watchmen alongside classic superheroes such as X-Men’s Inferno with things like Maus. My favorite question to pose the class is to ask, do comics influence society or does society influence comics? I like exploring the need for diversity in mainstream comics and how smaller companies are filling in these niche categories. I feel if given enough time, there could be entire concentrations in comics similar to Art History at this point. Unfortunately, I don’t think we respect comics as much as we do novels. I am happy however to see them get more attention thanks to the popularity of movie adaptations.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Marvel beats DC. Star Trek over Star Wars. Sub before Dub. With the company I keep, there are always geeky conversations happening. I’m always down for a geek argument.

About Author Jeremy Flagg:

Jeremy Flagg is the author of the CHILDREN OF NOSTRADAMUS dystopian science fiction series and SUBURBAN ZOMBIE HIGH young adult humor/horror series. Taking his love of pop culture and comic books, he focuses on fast paced, action packed novels with complex characters and contemporary themes.

Jeremy is the Co-creator of Massachusetts Science Fiction & Fantasy Authors and member of the Metrowest Writers writing group. He is also an active member of the New England Horror’s Association and Broad Universe.

Jeremy spends most of his free time at his desk writing snarky books. When he gets a moment away from writing, he watches too much Netlix and Hulu and reading comic books. Jeremy, a Maine native, resides in Clinton, Massachusetts and can be found in local coffee shops pounding away at the keyboard.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

Synopsis of Nighthawks:

New England is a walled off radioactive prison. People exhibiting extraordinary abilities are hunted for experiments. The only talent twenty-six-year-old Conthan has in life is his art and knack for sarcasm. When a cop threatens his life, Conthan discovers he has the ability to teleport. Hunted by the military and a woman with her own gifts, Conthan finds exiles in the Boston wastelands with powers of their own. For the first time, he sees potential to become a hero. But as he unravels a conspiracy threatening the world, he must decide between his survival and his humanity.

Audible ~ Amazon

Bookish Giveaway & Interview: James W. George, Author of My Father’s Kingdom

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Folks, please give a warm welcome to historical fiction author James W. George. I recently had the pleasure of listening to his book, My Father’s Kingdom, which explores the relations between the Wampanoag tribe and the Puritan colonists of the 1670s.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Wow, what a fun question. Is time travel a possibility? I might have to go back to 1970 and pilot a B-25 while sitting next to Art Garfunkel in “Catch-22.” If I have to stick around 2017, I guess “The Tudors” is long gone so I can’t gallivant around with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Natalie Dormer and Henry Cavill in my finest sixteenth-century frippery.
I guess I’ll keep it simple and appear on the next “Avengers” movie. Maybe I can smack some of the smugness out of Tony Stark, and my daughter would be extremely jealous.

What are the top 3 historical time periods and locations you would like to visit?

My first answer is very predictable. When writing and marketing My Father’s Kingdom, I’ve held fast and true to a fundamental precept: King Philip’s War in 1675 New England was one of the most fascinating and catastrophic events in American history, and most of us have never even heard of it.

So certainly, I would welcome the opportunity to see seventeenth century New England, especially the first interactions between some of the Native people and the European settlers.

I would love to visit well-studied periods like WWII, the American Revolution, the Viking conquests of England, and Tudor England, but I feel like historical fiction and cinema have done such a remarkable job of recreating these eras, I almost wonder if anything would genuinely be surprising.

If you’re going to hand me a fully-functioning time machine, I think I’d like to see some really obscure and mysterious periods, such as the empires of South America.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Brom Bones from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow is a remarkable piece of American literature. I love it so much my daughter is named Katrina. The lyrical prose by Washington Irving is simply unbelievable.

Brom Bones is the villain, but what did he actually do? He deceived the interloping schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane, with a brilliant ruse. No one was actually hurt, maimed, or killed. I guess in the end he already has his happy ending, but I would hope he and Katrina lived a wonderful married life together.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

Wow. Let’s go with some intellectual giants of American history. Maybe Increase Mather, John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Let’s throw in some modern-day wit. Perhaps Mark Steyn can regale us with the conservative viewpoint, and Jon Stewart can hold down the left wing.

What to read? Probably 1984 and Catch-22, but we’re going to have to do an awful lot of explaining to all those old people. And of course, my book, so Increase Mather can tell me how unfairly I portrayed him.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I used to load trucks for UPS while in high school. It was physically exhausting and quite difficult. You don’t load one truck at once, you loaded multiple trucks.

In addition to the physical toil, it was all like one big game of Tetris; you have to make sure you’re building the wall of boxes in the most logical, sturdy fashion possible. I guess there’s a lesson there for writers; sometimes you think all the disparate elements are seamlessly coming together in a nice, impressive structure, but when they don’t, you have to tear it down and start over.

What nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

As a writer of historical fiction, I rely on countless works of nonfiction that help make 1670s New England come to life. I think one book in particular, which is probably my favorite work of nonfiction, is Don’t Know Much about the Bible by Kenneth Davis. He approaches all the complex, thorny questions of the Bible with an open mind, and gears the book toward those who know little or nothing about the Bible. It helped me imagine how incomprehensible the Puritans and Bible must have been to Native Americans in the seventeenth century.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I live my relatively mundane life here in southeastern Virginia. I work my day job (which I love) and spend time with my wife and two kids. I’m a big music fan and it’s been a great pleasure watching my sixteen-year-old guitarist son completely eclipse me musically.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Yikes. No distinct memory is coming to mind. It might have been Clifford the Big Red Dog. I also remember loving the “Encyclopedia Brown” series as a kid. We have a house full of books and have kept quite a few children’s books. My favorite, hands-down, is Yertle the Turtle. That is Dr. Seuss at his finest!

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

I’ve completely immersed myself in the New England of the 1670s this year, but it’s reminded me how ignorant I am of so much history regarding the European exploration of the United States before the Mayflower. I live down the road from Jamestown, so I’m pretty familiar with that, but the tales of Spanish conquistadors like Coronado and DeSoto exploring the southern U.S. in the 1500s are unbelievable. How many Americans know the tale of the French Huguenot settlement in Florida?

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

Book Two should be out this fall, and I’m delighted with how it’s shaping up. I think Book One is quite atmospheric. It develops the characters and sets the tone for King Philip’s War, whereas Book Two is the actual war and is a little more action-packed. Benjamin Church, one of colonial America’s most famous soldiers, will play a very prominent role.

Check out more interviews, spotlights, & reviews on the blog tour.

About Author James W. George:

James W. George is a debut author currently residing in Virginia.  He is a graduate of Boston University, a military veteran, and a lover of historical fiction.

Amazon ~ GoodReads

Synopsis of My Father’s Kingdom:

In 1620, more than 100 devout men and women crossed the treacherous Atlantic Ocean and established a colony in the New World where they could build a righteous and Godly society. Without the fortuitous friendship of the Wampanoag people and their charismatic leader Massasoit, however, it is doubtful the holy experiment would have survived.

Fifty years later Plymouth Colony has not only survived, it has prospered, and more and more Englishmen are immigrating to New England. The blessed alliance with the Wampanoag, however, is in severe jeopardy. Massasoit has passed away along with most of the original settlers of Plymouth Colony, and their children and grandchildren have very different ideas about their historic friendship.

Thrust into the center of events is Reverend Israel Brewster, an idealistic young minister with a famous grandfather and a tragic past. Meanwhile, Massasoit’s son, known as “King Philip” by the English, is tormented by both the present and the past. He is watching the resources and culture of the Wampanoag nation fade away at the hands of the English and desperately wishes to restore hope and security to his people.

In a world of religious fervor, devastating sickness, and incessant greed, can the alliance of their forefathers survive? Or will New England feel the wrath of tragic, bloody war?

Audible ~ Amazon ~ Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Angus Freathy:

Angus Freathy was born and educated in London – that’s the one in England, for you Ohio folks!

After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, he went to Switzerland to join Nestlé for a 2-year wandering assignment, which lasted 37 years and involved travel and work on every continent (except the cold ones at the top and bottom).

Periods of residence in the U.S., Hong Kong and Switzerland have resulted in a network of friends and acquaintances with an amazing range of world insight and a wide repertoire of mostly excellent jokes.

Since retirement, Angus and his (still working) wife, Debra have lived in Oregon, Maryland and are now in Dublin, Ohio, ‘the only place we have actually chosen to live since we have been married!’.

Following a crushing rejection by the BBC at the age of 19, Angus is re-activating a long-held ambition and launching a new career in voice-over, with the sole intention of having some fun and being in touch with some very talented people.

Website

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a $25 Amazon gift Card. Open internationally! Ends August 6th, 2017.

My Father’s Kingdom Giveaway: $25 Amazon Gift Card