Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Vicky Loebel, Author of Key to the Coven

LoebelSpeakeasyDeadEveryone, please give a warm welcome to Vicky Loebel! We chat about Wodehouse, spaceships, defying certain death, and plenty more! Don’t forget to check out the audiobook giveaway (available to Audible.com and Audible.UK account holders) below!

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?

If this is fiction, the person who rescues me from certain death is going to be (a slimmer, braver version of) me. But I’d love to have Spiderman, the ghost (Gaspar) from my book Speakeasy Dead, and Harry Dresden on my side. If this is reality and the jaws of a death look anything like a centipede, my superhero husband gets the job.

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

Anyone who knows me will rat me out as a huge fan of the 2015 Man from U.N.C.L.E. movie. I got my writing start by creating fanfiction based on the original TV series, and seeing the essence of the show captured on the big screen was a dream come true.  As far as books, if I could erase them from my mind every few years, I might not read anything but P.G. Wodehouse.

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

Writing is both the hardest and the best job because I spend every day confronting my best and worst qualities. Oh wait, I meant parenting is the hardest job. No, writing. Wait….

LoebelKeysToTheCovenWhat 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 Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series made into any sort of game. The beauty of her books is that you can pick any of the characters and step right into their skin. So while everyone else was fighting to be Cordelia, Miles, and Ekatarin, I’d nip in as Ivan for the win.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Anything you say may be used against you in a work of fiction. And you’ll never even know.

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

I never wanted to tell stories. I wanted to live them – preferably as either an astronaut or an international spy, preferably riding a spunky American quarter horse. Eventually I accepted the fact that if I wanted adventures, I’d have to write them.

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

Alexander Dumas (Three Musketeers),  Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice/no zombies), Patrick O’Brian (Aubrey/Maturin series), and P.G. Wodehouse (Jeeves and Wooster). Jim Butcher is alive and I can’t really justify altering that to get him to my dinner table, so for the fifth author I’ll invite Sir Terry Pratchett whose audiobooks have brought me hours and hours of pleasure. Since I have no idea what any of them eats, I’ll arrange a big Tapas party where we cook dishes together in my imaginary gourmet kitchen.

LoebelVacationBrideCare 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 once had the distinction of attending a science fiction convention and making small talk in an elevator by asking guest of honor Octavia Butler if she was there for the con. Yes, I loved her books. No, I had no idea what she looked like. She smiled graciously and said yes.

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

Where does Spiderman hang his webs when he swings down the street? Do slow zombies pose a threat to anyone who’s not too stupid to live? And why would you hide a perfectly good spaceship under water? Couldn’t you hide it in space?

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Book Blurb for Keys to the Coven:

LoebelKeysToTheCovenThe Road to Hell is Paved with Bad Intentions. Get ready for Keys to the Coven, a witty, tightly plotted, (adult) urban-fantasy/romance set in an original universe where karma is power, sex is karma, and it’s not who you know but whose soul you own that matters.*

To become a demon, you must die in complete and utter despair. Three hundred years ago, Max passed that test with flying colors and joined the afterlife resolving never again to have innocent blood on his hands. Now Max has been given the job of breaking a young witch’s family curse. But what she doesn’t know, what Max can’t bring himself to tell her, is that completing his mission almost certainly means her death.

When Felicity Woodsen inherits her mother’s coven, she learns each firstborn Woodsen daughter must become the consort of an evil-arch demon. Felicity’s only hope is to ally with the mysteriously charming Max. But is saving her body from one demon worth risking her soul with another?

Roxashael became a demon when his Roman captors sent his family, one by one to be devoured by lions. The lesson was clear: power is good; lots of power is better. Two-thousand years later, Rocky has power. He’s purchased hundreds of souls, and he’s created the Minsk Homunculus, a magic artifact that, by binding a human witch as his consort, turns him into an arch-demon and places him above the goody-two-shoes laws of karma.

Unfortunately, Rocky made a mistake. He fell in love with Felicity’s mother and in a moment of weakness promised to give up his demon-consort charm. Now Felicity’s mother is dead, the Minsk Homunculus is slated for destruction, and Rocky’s power as an arch-demon is about to end.

No demon can break a promise. If Rocky refuses to give up the Minsk Homunculus, he’ll become the lowest, most abject slave in Hell. But then, why break promises when they’re so easy to corrupt?

GIVEAWAY!!!

Vicky is generously offering up 3 audiobook copies of her book Keys to the Coven! The audiobook is available through both Audible.com and Audible.UK. To enter the giveaway, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1)  Do you have either an Audible.com or an Audible.UK account?  2) Do you have an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment? 3) Leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaway ends September 9th, 2016.

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Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Darrell Drake, Author of A Star-Reckoner's Lot

DrakeAStarReckonersLotDear readers, please welcome author Darrell Drake! We chat about Sassanian Iran, Chinese literature, creative cursing, and plenty more. You will definitely be entertained! Also, make sure to check out the GIVEAWAY of Drake’s forthcoming book at the bottom of this post.

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

Dream of the Red Chamber, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Journey to the West, which are three of the Four Great Classical Novels (Chinese). I have read Water Margin (the last of the Four), and it’s had an undeniable influence on my work moving forward and my appreciation of Chinese literature. So now that you’ve reminded me, I am back to kicking myself.

With the exception of some of the more popular works, I also haven’t delved far enough into the rich history of Persian poetry. Most notably, Rumi’s works. I’ve always preferred prose to poetry, and I feel as if I’m missing out, especially considering the setting of A Star-Reckoner’s Lot.

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

As someone who has spent the last few years researching Sassanian Iran, I’d rank it as an underserved era of history. This is due to a wide array of issues—from a general scarcity of extant source material to the empire being one that’s overshadowed by contemporary civilizations (namely, Byzantium) or Muslim Persia.

That in turn has had an effect on historical fantasy and fiction. I never expected to have written what may very well be the first modern English novel in the setting (unsure if there are non-English ventures).

DrakeWithinRuinMyths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

I think it’s most notable in science fiction nowadays (though it could be argued that fantasy eventually becomes science fiction). Zombies and aliens are the first and most prominent myths to come to mind. And while the jury’s still out on the latter, I think it can be agreed that they’re ubiquitous in popular culture. You have people making serious preparations for a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested Earth. You have the many UFO enthusiasts, and a seemingly pervasive belief that aliens may very well exist.

Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

With A Star-Reckoner’s Lot being historical fantasy, I wanted to stay true to the historical half of the genre. But also to strike a healthy, readable middle ground. No one—or nearly no one—wants to read about every time that nature calls. However, profanity certainly plays a part in dialog where suited.

I believe the only typical profanity I resorted to was “fuck”. Because, well, it’s such a versatile word that I couldn’t fashion an alternative. Besides that heavyweight, I went about putting together phrases better suited to the culture and beliefs of the time: still damning, but curses like fingernail-swallowing or tortoise-loving.

Where travel is concerned, I did my research into what is appropriate for humans, horses, camels, and other beasts. But when it came to writing, I thought it’d be better to offer glimpses and expedite the rest. I can think of at least one book that covered every day of travel, and I found it mind-numbingly boring.

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

Oh, boy. Where do I even begin with this one? You can check out a partial list of those I read for A Star-Reckoner’s Lot. Those that cover history and mythology are the most obvious. I think that having an idea of the more intimate and everyday aspects of life lend to better fictional worlds. One that comes to mind is The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life. While it didn’t do much for what I was writing, it still goes a long way in describing the daily minutia. Books that cover topics like travel, psychology, and natural sciences also help on that front.

Who are your non-writer influences?

I feel as if it’s an evasive non-answer, but I have a hard time pinpointing anyone in particular. I can’t ascribe what I’ve written to any people in particular. We’re the sum of our years, and the daily interactions therein. I don’t channel anyone in particular when writing or thinking, just what I’ve learned and experienced over time. Anyone I’ve had any meaningful interaction with has contributed to who I am today.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you choose to do?

Sleep. All day. Is there somewhere I can sign up? I might choose to enlist, if I weren’t in a strange situation with citizenship. And perhaps be too old to. Despite the perils and uncomfortable nature of being deployed, it’s something I’m still interested in. I’ve discussed the idea with recruiters several times in the past, and have taken the ASVAB, but it always fell through.

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

There’s this series of books about a blue bug, fittingly titled Blue Bug Books. I don’t really remember anything about it besides the obvious, but it stands out as one of the first I can remember reading. I know, it’s a children’s book, but my highly selective memory has burdened me with remembering something that isn’t high brow!

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

Sassanian Iran: Ctesiphon, or Tisfun, was the capital of the empire, and surely gave a condensed view of the civilization.

Tang Dynasty China: Either the Eastern or Western capitals of Xi’an or Louyang. Tang Dynasty is considered by many to be the Chinese golden age.

Rome, during Bacchanalia: It sounds like a good time. A damn good time.

DarrellDrakeAuthorAuthor Bio: 

Darrell Drake has published four books, with A Star-Reckoner’s Lot being the latest. He often finds himself inspired by his research to take on new hobbies. Birdwatching, archery, stargazing, and a heightened interest in history have all become a welcome part of his life thanks to this habit.

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DrakeAStarReckonersLotBook Blurb for A Star-Reckoner’s Lot: For some, loss merely deprives. For others, it consumes.

Ashtadukht is a star-reckoner. The worst there’s ever been. Witness her treacherous journey through Iranian legends and ancient history.

Only a brave few storytellers still relate cautionary glimpses into the life of Ashtadukht, a woman who commanded the might of the constellations—if only just, and often unpredictably. They’ll stir the imagination with tales of her path to retribution. How, fraught with bereavement and a dogged illness, she criss-crossed Sassanian Iran in pursuit of creatures now believed mythical. Then, in hushed tones, what she wrought on that path.

GIVEAWAY!

Darrell is giving away 3 ebook copies of his fantasy historical fiction novel, A Star-Reckoner’s Lot. Open internationally. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Is there a sub-genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten it’s deserved attention? 2) Leave a way to contact you. Thanks! Giveaway ends September 30, 2016.

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Driver 5 by Ray W. Clark

ClarkDriver5Where I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Larry Lang

Publisher: Driver5books (2016)

Length: 2 hours 18 minutes

Author’s Page

The man who will be known as Driver 5 for the entire book is offered a sweet fast car by an odd old man. He jumps at the chance and takes it for joy ride but soon finds himself in the midst of a zombie-filled land. Luckily, he runs into Leah pretty quickly and she gives him the basics and directs him to a safe place. This underground complex houses most of the remaining humans in the area and they have been fighting an ongoing mission to take out a half-demon half-human Hitler who has set up base in Detroit. Yeah, I know. This isn’t a deep work but it a lot of fun. Just sit back and enjoy the ride!

Right off the bat, I’m going to tell you my pet peeve with this story and then we can get to all the good fun stuff. First, there is only one female character, Leah, and she is a woman, not a girl. Additionally, 5ft 9in is NOT short. Just setting the record straight there Driver 5!

So Driver 5 has been sucked in to this alternate timeline where Hitler did a sneaky and deadly attack at the end of WWII which sunk much of the western USA and Japan and part of China, and created these zombies. He then dabbled in some occult stuff, became part demon, and moved his center of operations to Detroit. Ha! I was just snort laughing throughout this book in entertainment – some of the stuff is just so far over the top I had to laugh along with plot.

At the underground complex, Driver 5 (no one wants to know who he really is or what he’s like because these drivers don’t have a long life expectancy) gets gussied up for the quest. He gets some cool nanotech that heightens his reflexes and lets his car recognize him as the sole driver and it connects him to his weapons as well. The car gets well stocked for the crazy drive from Indianapolis to Detroit. Leah gets to be his copilot. Now why folks of this history line don’t drive yet have the tech to send people to hunt down drivers in alternate histories is a little odd, but hey, we’re hear for the crazy Thunderdome ride experience, right?

And, indeed, it is a crazy, crazy road trip. Leah does a good job keeping Driver 5 alive and he eventually gets up to speed and starts doing his fair share of zombie killing. Eventually, Leah becomes Driver 5’s romantic interest and she’s a full grown woman who can make up her own mind about him. When they get to Detroit, their intel says demon Hitler is set up in a sports stadium and is well defended. Yes, the ending was a full on action flick.

In short, I could totally pick apart the plot. There’s a lot things that won’t hold up under even light scrutiny. But honestly, that’s not why I listened to it. I read that book blurb. I knew going into it that this was not a book to take seriously. Yet I still enjoyed the hell out of it. So, yes, go pick up a copy, enjoy it, revel in zombie killing while driving a fast car with a weapons-competent leather-clad woman at your side.

I received this book free of charge from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: The narration started off rough. Larry Lang sounded muffled at first and some of his sound effects drowned out the narration. But things did get better. By the end, he has a good balance of sound effects and his narration doesn’t sound so muffled. Leah always sounded like a woman and the male characters all sounded distinct.

What I Liked: Just fun to listen to; zombies – anyone can shoot a zombie and not feel bad about it; demon Hitler set up in Detroit – ha!; the cool tech; Leah and her competence.

What I Disliked: 5ft 9in is not short; there’s only 1 woman so I guess this alternate history won’t be repopulating quickly; the narration was a little rough.

What Others Think:

AudioFile

Janus: Zombies versus Dinosaurs by James Livingood

LivingoodJanusWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Randal Schaffer

Publisher: Paperbackward (2016)

Length: 5 hours 33 minutes

Series: Book 2 Zombies vs. Dinosaurs

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 2 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

I really enjoyed Pale Rider so when the author offered me a review copy of the sequel, I jumped at the chance. Sad to say, I didn’t find this installment as interesting. Janus is a zombie leader and he controls his pack of zombies through instinct. He also uses this power, instinct, to control a non-zombiefied deer or elk (I forget which), which he rides upon. The zombies are definitely different than the ones we saw in Book 1, being able to group together like this and be lead by a strong ‘personality’. However, I found the whole instinct power not well flushed out and difficult to believe in. Yep, I can totally believe in zombies and genetically created dinosaur-looking beasties, but I had a hard time with this instinct. Mostly, it was because of the elk. Wild animals have their own agendas – eat, sleep, fornicate, repeat. Elk aren’t big fans of rotting meat smell either. So Janus is using his power, instinct, to keep this elk in line, by negating the elk’s own instincts to run? That’s where Janus’s power gets to squishy and ill-defined for me.

The character, Pale Rider, is a reluctant leader in his town. He settles disputes and folks seek him out for advice on difficult fencing situations. He has a young daughter and he deeply misses his wife. Janus has recognized him as the human leader and if Janus wants to ‘free’ these humans from their boring lives, giving them the gifts of instinct and freedom, he must take out Pale Rider. The story sets up early for a good Western-type showdown and I really enjoyed the building of suspense.

Then we have Heche, who is like a mad scientist. She creates new dinos to sell to the local farmers. They are used in putting up fencing, taking down trees, and farming. I really like the basics of her character – she’s a seeker of knowledge both in books and through her work. However, this is another area that isn’t really clear. Does she have a lab with petri dishes and sterile equipment? Or is more like a wizard’s barn, full of smelly potions and unidentified bits of dried animals? I would have liked a bit more on this front because it ties into other questions I have. How far has civilization fallen? There’s a reference to contact lenses and it’s unlikely someone whipped those up, even if the town has a watchmaker. Is it 6 months since the zombie calamity or 6 years? If it’s 6 months, then contact lenses are still around. If it’s 6 years, then no, not realistic.

Book 1 was pretty sparse on the ladies and Book 2 does better but there are definitely not enough females around to save humanity. Heche has the most lines, but that’s perhaps 10-20 lines, though we get some quality time in her head. Pale Rider’s young daughter also has a role. Then there are 2 female zombies (why so few?) and maybe a few human ladies tossed in here and there. As usual, I like to see more ladies in post-apocalyptic stories. How else will we rebuild?

OK. So, bad to the goodness. We do get a showdown at the end and there were some twists. The author took the story beyond what I expected. These zombies are more like feral beasts than shuffling corpses; they are not so easily beaten. Heche creates a fantastical beast that comes in handy. And then there’s that thing that happened right at the end that has me craving to know where things will go from here. It’s all very dramatic at the end and very satisfying.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost (from the author) in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Narration: Randal Schaffer’s performance was OK. When the characters were talking, he imbued them with emotion. The rest of the story he read in a monologue that made me wonder if he was bored with the book or not.

What I Liked: Modified beasties!; showdown between zombies and humans; Heche’s work; the reluctant leader; some great surprises at the end.

What I Disliked: Not clear about the level of science or manufacturing that is available; the zombie instinct power was pretty nebulous and squishy; few female characters.

Giveaway & Interview: JD & Amy of Whimsy & Wonder Creative Press

CollinsOfRobotsAndZombiesAndWizardsAndStuffDear Dabbers, please give a warm welcome to the brains and beauty behind Whimsy and Wonder Creative Press, Amy & JD. It was a real treat to interview this couple. We chat about several TV shows, where to spend the holidays, the tribulations of self-promotion, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss out on the paperback GIVEAWAY – scroll to the bottom for that.

If you could be an extra on a TV show, what would it be?

J: We actually were extra’s on TV show once. It was a show called “Murder In Law”, a show about people getting murdered by their in laws, and we were in one of the cheesy reenactments, which was a lot of fun. If I could do it again I would want it to be on Game of Thrones as a Wite, or on The Walking Dead as a Zombie, because who doesn’t want to be put in professional quality zombie make up at least once in their lives?

A: I would like to be an extra on Outander. So I could potentially see/meet (stalk) Sam Heugen.

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?

J: I think a supernatural creature, because I’ve always wanted to befriend like a cool monster or something that would be my friend or companion or something, so maybe if I was rescued by supernatural creature, like a mogwai or a hippogriff or something I could make that a reality.

A: Space Alien. That way we can become friends and they can prove to me that everything they cover on Ancient Aliens is true.

What fictional world would you like to visit for the holidays?

J: Harry Potter for sure. First of all it’s just really friggen magical. Secondly, I’ve always dreamt of Christmas at Hogwarts, and thirdly, I feel like less terrible things happen in the Harry Potter world than a lot of others. Like, Westeros I would be for sure worried about whether I would even make it through the holidays. Middle Earth is also extremely terrifying, although a holiday in a hobbit hole does sound rather cozy. Basically I don’t want to spend the holidays in a universe where I end up being somebodies red shirt, and overall Hogwarts seems pretty safe, what with the Dark Lord vanquished and all.

A: I would go to Who-ville.

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

J: We were actually just talking about this. I would love to re-watch the Sixth Sense and Empire Strikes Back again without knowing the twists ahead of time. I was too young to watch either of those movies when they came out (I wasn’t even alive when Empire came out), so by the time I was able to watch them they were entirely spoiled for me.

A: I think I would want to experience The Lord of the Rings movies for the first time.

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?

J: I think The Hunger Games would make a really bitchin’ video game, but I would want it to be something where I could design my own character and pick my own weapons and skills and stuff. Like you could choose whether you want your weapon to be a bow and arrow, or a sword or a trident or whatever, and then choose to build up specific skills like foraging, or hunting, or camouflage before finally duking it out in a random arena with different environments like forest, or dessert or tundra. Actually the more I think about it the more that sounds like an amazing game. Somebody should get on that.

A: I would really enjoy a video game version of Carrie. It’s probably the closest I will ever get to having telekinesis and working out my high school issues.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

J: Warning: Is Prone To Dancing In Embarrassing Places (including but not limited to; grocery store lines, bowling alleys, and movie theaters).

A: Warning: Can become very hungry – keep snacks nearby.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

J: I have a really hard time with this actually. It’s really challenging to get anyone to listen to you in the void that is the Internet, and there’s way to many talented people making good stuff, so it’s really hard to get noticed. Add to that a crippling condition I have called social awkwardness, and it can be kind of a mess sometimes. That being said, it does have it’s moments, when people really seem to enjoy what your doing.

A: It’s a very fun job to have, getting to be like hey everybody look at how awesome we are. The most challenging part is some people just aren’t interested or may give criticism on things you have spent a really, really long time on. That can be very nerve racking.

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

J: Sherlock Holmes, because I would be really curious to see what he would deduce just from seeing me. GandalfProfessor X and Dumbledore, because they’re so wise and I’ve always wanted them to be my life coaches, so I would seek their guidance. Since I get one more probably Xander from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, because I feel like we would be good friends.

A: I would choose Jamie Fraser from Outlander Because he’s gorgeous I’m not going to pass on that opportunity. Gandalf from Lord of the Rings – I feel like he would have really good advice on life. Furiosa– from Mad Max: She is just so bad ass would love to have a beer with her. Effie Trinket– from the Hunger Games- I feel like she could give me style advice and I could see her getting along really well with Gandalf. And Michone from The Walking Dead- another bad ass female who probably would become best friends with Furiosa…..and maybe me…..

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?

J: Well, we’re just getting started so I’ve yet to have anyone gushing over my work, but I did get to meet Stan Lee at a Comic Con once. It was at the little photo booths they set up where you pay to get your picture taken with a celebrity and I was so excited, so I wanted to come up with something clever to say. It’s crazy because I had a very long line to wait in to figure it out but I didn’t, so when my turn came I couldn’t think of anything except for “it’s so great to meet you”, and because it was Stan Lee, and because he is possibly the coolest human on the planet he just clapped me on the back and said “You’re god damn right!” and then they snapped the picture. It was awesome. I still have the picture.

A: When we got our picture of George Takei he said “OH My Look At Youuuu.”  So I took that as a compliment and felt like my life was pretty accomplished after that.

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

J: I can’t say that I can think of just one, because that’s kind of just our life. We’re always bickering about some odd movie or another. Amy still makes fun of me for liking the movie “The Mist”, which she refers to as “The Mist-take”, which she thinks is very clever.

A: There are many to choose from and now that I cant think of any but Jerrud and I tend to get into arguments about how fast the zombies would be moving on TV shows. Pretty much our whole relationship is arguing one geeky thing to another.

CollinsOfRobotsAndZombiesAndWizardsAndStuffBook Blurb for Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff:

Have you ever wanted to read a story about a dancing robot? How one about a vicious hamburger eating, teenaged zombie? Or perhaps a retired super hero working a day job as mailman? Have you ever felt that your life would be enriched by a fierce and vitriolic debate amongst wizards about beard lengths? Have you ever once felt a talking tree might have the answer to all of your problems? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book might be for you*. In the tales within, you will find all of these, and so much more. So go ahead, give it a try. You just might find what you’ve been looking for. *Please consult with your doctor before reading this book to discuss risks of an awesome overdose

CollinsPeopleSuckBook Blurb for People Suck

People suck, especially when your not one of them. In this adult(13+) picture book follow the journey of human suckage as explored by creatures suck as a yeti, a swamp monster and space aliens.

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GIVEAWAY!

JD & Amy are generously offering up two copies each of their books: Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff, and their new picture book People Suck. These will be paper books and, therefore, we have to limit this giveaway to USA only due to postage. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) What state do you live in? 2) Do you have an awkward fanboy/fangirl moment to share? 3) Which book would you prefer to win? 4) Leave a way to contact you! Giveaway ends November 15th, 2015, midnight.

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Interview: Martin Wurst, Narrator of Zombies in Love

FleischerZombiesInLoveEveryone, please welcome Martin Wurst. We chat about little kitty snores, Wonder Woman, clapping like a monkey, and plenty more. I am sure you will be as entertained as I am! And don’t forget to check out the interview (along with audiobook/ebook giveaway) with author Nora Fleischer.

If you could be an extra in a book you have narrated, what would it be?

Zombies In Love is my first book, so I’d be the creepy guy fogging up the window outside while some zombie-love was going on.  Awww, yeah. (gyrates)  Or a brick, but you’ll have to read the book to know what I’m talking about.

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?

Does every dude say Wonder Woman?  A beautiful woman would ease the psychological damage.

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

This is going to sound bizarre, but I think the worst thing I can think of is being a seat-filler for a number of sitcoms in LA.  Yeah, it’s money, you get paid to watch live shows and clap like a monkey, but it’s mind-numbingly awful.  You feel the brain damage taking place as you’re forced to laugh at actors mugging and spouting cheeseball lines. You watch the same warm-up comedians do their same acts over and over because they’re trying to keep the crowd pumped up for the show.  If you’re willing to do a dance-off and humiliate yourself you might win a t-shirt or something. You get paid minimum wage, you’re treated like cattle, and you’re stuck watching the worst that television has to offer.  It’s a novelty for 5 minutes and then you’re done.  I would much rather spend a day editing out my mouth noises.

Via voice acting, have you been inadvertently lured outside your reading comfort zone?

I like horror and zombies, so in that respect, no.  Reading something that can qualify as a sex scene is a little uncomfortable, but as long as my girlfriend is fast asleep in the next room, I don’t have to feel weird about it.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own? Did you read it out loud and make funny voices?

I can’t remember the first book.  My 3rd grade teacher read “The Witches” and “The BFG” out loud and that had a huge impact.  I remember reading as a group too; one student would do a few paragraphs and then hand it off to the next student.  That was always a good opportunity for a laugh, to see if you could impress the teacher with your reading, then maybe get a nod of approval to read an extra paragraph.  Marty is on a ROLL, sorry kids, you’re all FIRED!  I deem Mr. Wurst Master Storyteller and Expert of Amusing Voices.

Have you kept a vocal blooper reel for your own entertainment?

I made a clip for my girlfriend.  Our cat “Tune” wouldn’t leave me alone.  She would jump up on the table and rub her face against the microphone.  I also had to stop many takes because I’d hear something weird in the background and I’d find her snoring on the couch, haha.  Little kitty snores.  So I’d get up, walk over, pet her once, which would prompt a “puurrRRRGH?” response, then sit back down.  That would buy me 15 minutes until she started snoring again. So I made a little clip of her purrs and saved some snores for our amusement.

FleischerZombiesInLoveZombies in Love book blurb:

Jack Kershaw just wants to hold on to his new job at Lisa Alioto’s pizza parlor, and to keep Lisa from finding out that he’s a zombie. Jack learns that he and Lisa are in serious danger.

His second chance at life is the inadvertent result of a lab experiment by two graduate students. Winthrop University – a school which knows how to keep its secrets – will do anything necessary to conceal that someone on campus raised the dead. With the help of Boston’s zombie horde, can Jack and Lisa escape Winthrop’s sinister clutches?

Narrator Bio:

Martin Wurst is a stand-up comedian in Los Angeles. You can find him on Twitter @TheWurstTweet. You can find his comedy on  https://www.youtube.com/user/Martacious. And you can catch him on Audible.

Benton: A Zombie Novel by Jolie Du Pre

DuPreBentonAZombieNovelWhere I Got It: Won a copy from Eargasms (thanks!)

Narrator: Angie Hickman

Publisher: Precious Monsters Press (2014)

Length: 2 hours 30 minutes

Series: Book 1 Benton

Author’s Page

Set in modern-day small town Illinois, Jennifer Benton must first escape her house. Everyone she knows, including her family, have turned into zombies. She’s been holed up in her room for weeks, with her zombie mother right outside waiting for something living to cross her path. But escape she does and a chance encounter puts her in a closed garage with 7 other folks. Now, they must make a plan for the future as supplies won’t last forever, especially with winter coming on.

This is another fun addition to the zombie genre. Jennifer Benton is easy to connect with and isn’t a silly lass. In fact, she is quite practical and willing to add to her list of skills, zombie killing being at the top. She’s in her early 20s, so she’s past the silly teen stage yet still young enough to know how tender and encompassing love (or lust) can be. And with the handsome Mark around, there is definitely temptation.

While this book does has a romantic plot line to it, there is so much more going on. Primarily, it is a survival story. Can Benton trust everyone in their little group? Probably not, much to everyone’s woe. Then there are the roving bands of other humans to consider. And those pesky zombies. Since many of their group are locals, killing zombies is a bit emotionally draining as they were once friends or family. I am glad the author explored that aspect of it.

There is one sex scene and it is sweet. However, we’re shown how the man will be pleased, and only told how the woman was pleased after the fact. I would have liked a little more equality there as media in general tends to shy away from the female orgasm. I think we all know that more humans would benefit from some instructive fiction in how to obtain a female orgasm.

Overall, this was a great addition to the survival genre with focus on human interactions and trust. It steered away from the gory horror of zombies that many zombies books focus on.

Narration: Angie Hickman was a good choice for Jennifer Benton. She had a young woman’s voice but didn’t sound like a teen. Hickman also had distinct voices for both male and female characters.

What I Liked: Survival story; main character is practical without being all knowing; focus is on human interactions; not gory horror.

What I Disliked: Could have used a little more equality in showing the love scene.

What Others Think:

Mean Who You Are

The Katy

Book Reviews by Susan Keefe

High Midnight by Rob Mosca

MoscaHighMidnightWhere I Got It: Review copy via Audiobook Monthly (thanks!)

Narrator: Bernard Setaro Clark

Publisher: ListenUp Audiobooks (2014)

Length: 8 hours 3 minutes

Author’s Page

What do psychotic clowns, cryptid chimeras, drunk sheriffs, Russian novel reading monkeys, ghostly lovers, and zombies have in common? Not much beyond this book. Set in modern day, Unity, Texas is a place to the unwanted, drunk, and those not wanting to be found to disappear. Laredo Beaumont, the sheriff, takes his job seriously, especially the napping and drinking part. At least, until the day a murder of clowns shows up.

This is one of the oddest books I have ever read. I knew it was a mishmash of genres and plot devices going into it, but the various elements pulled in was beyond expectations. And the author made it all work beautifully. I was constantly entertained, usually surprised, and left wanting more. I hear rumors there is a second book in the making and I have my fingers crossed that is true.

The book starts off with psychotic clowns. Admittedly, it does jump around quickly from clown to clown, and often with swift punches of flashbacks showing a little bit of why that clown is now with a sadistic gaggle of clowns on a near deserted highway. Don’t be put off by this because the point of view settles down after that and gives a good story, with a few flashbacks here and there. The viewpoints do change throughout the tale, but we get to spend enough time with each character that the reader has time to connect with them.

I found Unity to be a fascinating town, especially all the problems they have with the cryptids such as the chupacabra and jackalope chimeras. The biologist in me wanted to do a summer study course in Unity. The half with the common sense knew we would have to get lost in a desert teeming with the shuffling undead. The zombies don’t feature heavily in this book, but do have a little key part to play.

Laredo and Sally Mae were my two favorite characters, one being a drunk authority figure and the other a ghostly bordello lass. They both kick ass in their own ways. And there is one sex scene. It is smoking hot, literally. There are flames involved. And a luchadero mask. Haha! Hooray for Mexican wrestling! That little detail gave me a good laugh, and yet, it really worked with the character.

Yes, there is a deputy sheriff. His name is Cicero, a chimpanzee. He wields knives and reads dreary Russian literature. Periodically, he smashes up the one and only bar, which is owned by the mayor of the town. She doesn’t appreciate such antics; hence, he has a job and has to keep it to work off his binges. Toss in the clowns (like Kiss me Kate) and some other town characters (the mayor’s bathrobe attired husband) and you have a very eclectic cast.

The plot was pretty straight forward. The clowns have been gallivanting about the country side looking for a specific person, someone they feel they need to payback (like by breaking said person’s kneecaps). In Unity, the sheriff struggles with the big question: why am I here? While he wrestles with that, all these other characters are just going about their lives, until some clowns with questionable makeup skills arrive in town. Really, the plot gave this backbone for all these character to play together on. I am fine with that because it was damn entertaining!

Narration: Bernard Setaro Clark was a good fit for this book. He had a variety of voices (and you definitely needed that for this book). His female voices were totally believable. Luckily, we weren’t treated to any monkey screeches. He had no hesitancy with the evil clowns or the love scene.

What I Liked:  The cover art; luchadero masks; such a variety in the cast of characters!; the hot love scene; the ladies have plot-related roles; the monkey has a Russian accent; cryptids; satisfying ending.

What I Disliked:  Nothing – I really, really enjoyed this book!

What Others Think:

SFF Audio

I Have an Opinion on Almost Everything

Jezner.com

Zombie Blood Fights

Cassie Carnage’s House of Horror

Pale Rider: Zombies versus Dinosaurs by James Livingood

LivingoodPaleRiderWhere I Got It: Review copy from the author (thanks!).

Narrator: Michael C. Gwynne

Publisher: Paperbackward (2015)

Length: 57 minutes

Author’s Page

The zombie virus was initially misdiagnosed. Of course it would be. Eventually, it spread and society as we know it collapsed. A new method of transport was needed, one that did not depend on petroleum products and was immune to the virus. Some scientists got together and gengineered large reptilian birds to transport humans and to be used as heavy equipment in farming and clearing land. Us humans couldn’t help but refer to them as dinosaurs.

I read the description to this novelette and smiled. How could I not give it a listen? The story starts off with a short lead in that sets the stage clearly for the reader. I liked how the zombies (also called ‘blues’ in this story) have a nervous system disorder caused by a virus. Then I thoroughly enjoyed how the dinosaurs came into being. If you have ever owned chickens, then you know they are not far removed from T-rexes. So it was not hard for me to imagine some gengineered featherless birds crossed with reptiles being raised to take out tree stumps.

Then we get into the story. Farming is pretty dangerous today, without zombies and with modern equipment. Imagine trying to clear a bit of farming land while watching out for and possibly fighting zombies. Yeah, pretty damn exciting. The story is told through a single point of view (a man, known as Pale Rider, who travels around the area clearing farm land) in a near nitty gritty way. I liked his skeptical attitude.

There are only 2 women mentioned in this book and neither have speaking roles. They are both wives and we only see one on stage, just once, to plant a sultry kiss. Obviously, I would have liked to see a real female character or two, with actions and dialogue pertinent to the plot. However, that’s my only complaint about this tale.

The mix of action and dinos and zombies had me alternating between a black humor chuckle and nibbling on my nails wondering if our hero had met his end. James Livingood is an author to keep an eye on and I really hope he continues to explore this world he has created.

The Narration: Michael Gwynne was a good fit for Pale Rider, giving him a hard-boiled feel. He had a range of voices for the few other characters we encounter.  

What I Liked: Modified beasties!; interesting main character; zombies versus dinos!; the cover art; satisfying ending.

What I Disliked: Women are relegated to the background.

Zombies & The Football Apocalypse

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I finally watched The Walking Dead. Yes, I live under a rock. It is a dry, dusty, desert rock that may or may not have been peed on by a lizard. My Main Man (M3) watched the seasons available on Netflix (because cable doesn’t exist out here and who wants satellite anyway?) and finally I was sick and tired enough to give it a go.

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First, I am a biologist at heart and by degree. Reanimated flesh is just silly and so totally unlikely to happen. The body dies, it starts to break down on the cellular level. Without the cells whole, there is nothing to reanimate. The point is, I have trouble believing in zombies and without belief, how can I take them serious?

OK, so yes, football comes into to this in a moment. I’m not into football either.

For those who haven’t seen the show, it’s mostly based in Georgia. For our main characters, shit starts going down in Atlanta and spreads outward from there. At first, folks think it is like a bad, bad flu and that the government will get a handle on it, shelters will be put in place, vaccines and medical care dispensed, and in 6 months (tops) life will be back to normal. So a lot of folks chose to band together with their campers and RVs and basically have a very extended campout. The women do the cooking and the cleaning, the men do the patrols and peeing on trees to mark their territory.

Yep. For the first 2 seasons, the women are all but useless in this new, zombie infested world. There is one female character who starts learning to use firearms in Season 2, but mostly the women are like a commodity to be protected and shuffled around. The men go on and on about how to deploy their manpower, like the women can’t learn to use firearms, bows, or even pointy sticks (zombies aren’t particularly hard to kill once you are committed). Just a note, come Season 3 all the characters, male & female, young & old, are badass at dispensing zombie execution. And, yes, it is awesome and I am now addicted to the show, eagerly awaiting the next installment in Netflix.

So I was complaining to my man about this particular aspect of the series (because I was hooked on it for all the drama, especially concerning how kids grow up in this new world) and I had to back up a bit. I’ve grown up rural, not in a big city. I have one pair of heels and the rest (all 5 pairs) are books or sneakers. I know how to use firearms and break down and clean the ones I own. I know how to butcher a goat from live to freezer. Our home is heated with fireplaces. You get the idea.

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But what if I hadn’t grown up with most of these skills (I added some later in life). What if I suddenly found myself in a very foreign lifestyle? Hence, The Football Apocalypse! I imagine locker rooms full of jocks and cheerleaders, millions of fans, and mascots. Angry coaches and the beer wenches. I don’t watch football, not too sure about the rules, etc. M3 does watch football and likes the rules.

So I asked him, ‘If there was a sudden and irrevocable Football Apocalypse, where every surviving person had to be attached to the game in some manner, do you think I would survive?’

M3 isn’t stupid. He thought long and hard before he replied. ‘No.’ He’s not a man of many words.

‘What if I was a water bearer? I could carry water to coaches and players. I wouldn’t run across the field or anything stupid like that.’

‘Hmm. No.’

I sighed heavily. M3 is a thoughtful guy. He doesn’t tell me I can’t do something without having his reasons. He knows me and the snarky mouth I have in reserve for sporting events. He was probably picturing me ripping the head off a mascot and slamming it into some athletic player, spilling his/her beer (yes, in my Football Apocalypse women will be playing the field), and ensuing chaos would swamp over me, ending in broken bones and tears.

He patted my back and said, ‘I’ll get you some pompoms.’

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