Award Winning Author Micki Browning discusses Writing

 

 

 

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Please Welcome Award-winning Author Micki Browning!

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Author Interview

 

 

 

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  • What does it mean to plot from the POV of the antagonist and write from the perspective of the protagonist? 

  • What’s your experience and how did it help with writing?



The best writing advice I ever received was to plot from the point of view of the antagonist and write from the perspective of the protagonist. Simple, right? But it was an a-ha moment for me.

 

 

 

 

light bulb moment

 

 

 
A bit of background. Like most writers, I have a couple of practice manuscripts currently occupying space in the bottom of a drawer. They both garnered decent feedback from agents, but the novels were episodic—most of the second act chapters could have been rearranged without affecting the story. I wasn’t building on prior events. Why? Because I didn’t know what my antagonist was doing behind the scenes.

 

 

 

 

antagonist behind the scenes

 

 

 
I think most writers put a great deal of thought into the character development of their heroes, but they tend to give their antagonist short shrift. But think about it—the antagonist is the character that drives the story. It is his or her actions that the protagonist must address.

 

 
For most of my adult life, I was a police officer. Part of the job description involved investigating crimes. Most incidents began when someone called 9-1- 1. Upon arrival, I’d try to piece together what happened by observing the scene, obtaining witness statements, and collecting physical evidence. Armed with this information, I’d search databases, develop additional contacts, run down new leads.

 

I was a first responder—just like my protagonist.

 

 

Police Officer grabbing his gun

 

 

 
Imagine how easy police work would be if an officer knew before being dispatched to the scene exactly how the criminal had planned the crime, what motivated the person to do such a nefarious deed, and what steps he’d taken to avoid detection.

 

 
As a writer, you can do that!

 

 

 

 

 

Police work Micki B

 

 

 

 
To combat my story-structure issues, I enrolled in a plotting course for mystery and thriller writers. During the course, the instructor assigned two exercises that I’ve since incorporated into the planning stage of every story I write.

 

 
The first exercise explains the antagonist’s motivation for doing what he did. I write it in first person and it essentially creates the backstory of the character. The first line of this exercise for Adrift, my debut novel reads:

 

 
Ishmael Styx is a man who knows what he wants, and he wants to be dead.  All he has to do is figure out how to make it temporary.

 

 
I then wrote 1200 words explaining what had happened in his life to bring him to this
point.

 

 
The second exercise explains how the antagonist pulled off his crime. Adrift had a complicated crime (more than one, actually, but that developed later in the story).

 

 

 

 

Process Definition Magnified Showing Result From Actions Or Functions

 

 

 

 

Drawing on my background, I hatched the plan. Knowing how the crime occurred gave me the insight I needed to identify the clues my protagonist had to notice, what other things could be misinterpreted, and how to follow the breadcrumb trail left by the antagonist. The exercise revealed some surprising options that prompted me to go deeper into my storytelling.

 

 

 
The structure of a mystery novel is such that the antagonist runs the show in the first act. His crime is the inciting incident that ensures the protagonist’s involvement. Roughly the first half of the story involves the hero reacting to the actions of the protagonist. After the midpoint, their roles change. Now your protagonist is hot on the trail, developing those leads, realizing her mistakes. Sure, she’ll have setbacks, but as she gets closer to solving the crime, the two characters are also nearing their final confrontation. Both exercises will help you determine how your cornered antagonist will lash out, try to escape, or outwit your sleuth.

 

 

 

 

 

STRUCTURE - Glowing Neon Sign on stonework wall

 

 

 

 
Mapping out the crime allowed me to structure my storyline so that it built on the information learned in previous chapters. Actions had consequences. My writing was no longer episodic.

 

 
The first time I’d put this writing advice into action was during the writing of Adrift. The novel won both the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Royal Palm Literary Award for mystery. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

 

 
I knew how to foil the crime because I had plotted it first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIO:

An FBI National Academy graduate, Micki Browning worked in municipal law enforcement for more than two decades, retiring as a division commander. Now a full time writer, she won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Royal Palm Literary Award for her debut mystery, ADRIFT. 

 
Micki also writes short stories and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in dive magazines, anthologies, mystery magazines and textbooks. She resides in Southern Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment she uses for “research”

 

 

 

Micki's logo scaled

 

Stay in touch with Micki at

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Audiobook Blog Tour: The Woman in the Camphor Trunk

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Audiobook Blog Tour!

 

 

 

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Anna Blanc Camphor Trunk 1

 

 

 

About the Audiobook

Author: Jennifer Kincheloe

Narrator: Moira Quirk

Length: 10 hours 50 minutes

Publisher: Jennifer Kincheloe⎮20

Genre: Historical Fiction Mystery

Series: Anna Blanc Mysteries, Book 2

Release date: Nov. 14, 2017

 

 

Synopsis: Los Angeles, 1908. In Chinatown, the most dangerous beat in Los Angeles, police matron Anna Blanc and her former sweetheart, Detective Joe Singer, discover the body of a white missionary woman, stuffed in a trunk in the apartment of her Chinese lover. Her lover has fled. If news gets out that a white woman was murdered in Chinatown, there will be a violent backlash against the Chinese. Joe and Anna plan to solve the crime quietly and keep the death a secret. So does good-looking Mr. Jones, a prominent Chinese leader who has mixed feelings about helping the LAPD and about Anna.

Meanwhile, the Hop Sing tong has kidnapped two slave girls from the Bing Kong tong, fuelling existing tensions. They are poised on the verge of a bloody tong war that would put all Chinatown residents in danger.

Joe orders Anna out of Chinatown to keep her safe, but to atone for her own family’s sins, Anna must stay to solve the crime before news of the murder is leaked and Chinatown explodes.

 

 

Buy Links

Buy on AudibleAmazon

 

 

 

 

Book Review - 3d rendered headline

 

 

 

This book was quality historical fiction in my opinion. I found it extremely entertaining on many levels!  Anna Blanc is a very delightful, fiercely independent character. The Narrator was the perfect medium for this book. She fully brought the characters to life! Jennifer has created one of the most memorable characters that I can remember. Anna Blanc reminds me of the talented young sleuth, Flavia de Luce.

Loved all the interpersonal conflict, tension among the characters. Very well written. Jennifer Kincheloe is a good writer.

 

 

 

Five golden stars isolated on white background

 

 

 

 

See my review of the Narrator performance here: The Woman in the Camphor Trunk

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?

I liken it to a movie vs. a TV series. You simply have more time to develop the characters. You know them so well.You also have the challenge of making them grow or change in every book. Sustaining the romance is a trick, but I love how Elizabeth Peters did it in the Amelia Peabody series. It never got old. The audiobooks of that series are seriously the best I’ve ever heard (after Moira). They relate the adventures of a woman Egyptologist in the late 19th and early 20th century. Start with CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK. You’ll thank me.

 

 

What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Write for yourself. Not for money, critics, or glory. Only write for yourself.

 

 

What’s next for you?

I have a contract for book three in the Anna Blanc mystery series, which I’ve tentatively titled GRIFFITH PARK. It’s hard to describe the plot because there’s a twist in the beginning and I’m not sure how much to reveal, but it’s more Anna and Joe, more adventures, more LA history straight from the papers.

 

 

 

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About the Author: Jennifer Kincheloe

 

Jennifer has been a block layer, a nurse’s aid, a fragrance model, and on the research faculty at UCLA, where she spent 11 years conducting studies to inform health policy. A native of Southern California, she now lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and two teenagers. She’s currently writing book three in the Anna Blanc Mystery series. Book two, THE WOMAN IN THE CAMPHOR TRUNK, is coming out in Fall of 2017 from Seventh Street Books.

 

 

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About the Narrator: Moira Quirk

Moira grew up in teeny-tiny Rutland, England’s smallest county, which is fitting as she never managed to make it past five feet herself.  Moira’s work spans the pantheon of the voiceover world: plays for BBC radio, plays for NPR, video games, commercials, television promos, podcasts, cartoons, movies and award winning audiobooks. She’s won Multiple Audie Awards, Earphone Awards, as well as Audible’s prestigious Book-of-the-Year Award. She has lately set foot in front of the camera again, appearing in “Pretty: the Series” and the Emmy-winning “Dirty Work.”

 

 

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Secret life of Anna Blanc

 

 

 

 

Don’t be a stranger!  Come back and see us!

 

 

 

 

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Interview with the Author of The City of Brass S.A. Chakraborty

City of Brass

 

 

 

Step into The City of Brass…

 

 

 

Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and Uprooted, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts.

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to question all she believes. For the warrior tells her an extraordinary tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling birds of prey are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass—a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say to be careful what you wish for . . .

 

 

 

 

Interview Microphone Cord Wire Word Radio Podcast Discussion

 

 

 

 

 

*Where are you originally from?

I’m from New Jersey originally (and proudly!) and have lived in New York City for about a decade.

I was briefly in Camden, NJ once, and have been in New York once. Greetings from Ohio!




New Jersey NJ Letters Abbreviation Red 3d State Map Long Shadow

New York




*What influences early in life led you to become a writer?

I originally wanted to be a historian, but I’ve always been a bookworm and read widely since I was a child. I dabbled in fan-fiction a bit as a teenager, but The City of Brass was my first real effort at writing!

That’s amazing. Your writing is impeccable. I’m still reading this and definitely will be reviewing it. 




Wow amazong




*How did you develop a love for history?

I’ve loved history since I was pretty young; I was a fan of those big Eyewitness books on the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians and also used to just straight-up read encyclopedias. I narrowed in on the late antique/early medieval Islamic world while in high school, and that’s been my interest ever since.

I love what you’ve created with the City of Brass. Your knowledge and love for history bleeds through the pages pretty easily. I’ve never been exposed to that part of history so it feels like an adventure!  




History Letterpress




*Why did you choose to write in 18th century Cairo?

I pulled a lot of the details for the magical world from earlier history, particularly the Abbasid’s, but I wanted to start in 18th century Cairo for a few reasons.

1) I wanted to explore the history of medicine and there were a lot of developments at this time.

2) A lot of the book has to do with occupation and setting it at the start of Western colonialism in Egypt seemed appropriate, and

3) I knew a Napoleon reference in the first chapter would help orient some readers unfamiliar with the history!

Nice. Very interesting! 




Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan. Cairo. Egipt




*What are the core elements of epic fantasy?

I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer that, but in my opinion, only that it be epic. I’m not much of a stickler for the rules. I’ve read palace intrigues set in cosmopolitan cities and journey tales across oceans, and I think they all work under the definition.

Good enough for me–and your book is EPIC. 




Epic concept.




*Tell us some things you enjoyed researching the City of Brass. 

Scandals in the Abbasid court! Between jealous poets, scheming wazirs, and powerful queen mothers, it’s all a delight to read.

Scandals seem to be everywhere I’m not surprised. 




*When is the next book of the trilogy due?

Fairly soon. Fingers crossed, we’ll have it out next year!

 

Awesome. I just added it to my Goodreads.





 

Connect with S.A. Chakraborty

 

 

Shan Chakraborty, fr 1739

 

 

 

S. A. Chakraborty is a speculative fiction writer from New York City. Her debut, THE CITY OF BRASS, is the first book in an epic fantasy trilogy set in the 18th century Middle East and will be published in November 2017 by Harper Voyager. When not buried in books about Mughal portraiture and Omani history, S. A. enjoys hiking, knitting, and cooking unnecessarily complicated meals for her family. You can find her online at www.sachakraborty.com or on Twitter (@SChakrabs) where she likes to ramble about history, politics, and Islamic art.

 

 

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Website | TwitterAmazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

THANKS!

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

Building a Career in Fantasy with Author Michelle Madow

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY FOLKS!

 

 

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Building a Career in Fantasy with Author Michelle Madow

 

 

 

 

 

What did you take away from this discussion? Tell me in the comments!!

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

MTW Blog Cover Image by Eva

Great Interview with Lilja Sigurdardóttir Author of Snare

 

 

 

Snare

 

 

SNARE

 

Book blurb

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies. Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

 

 

 

 

Excellence from Iceland

 

 

 

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Lilja Sigurdardóttir – Author of Snare

 

 

Lilja profile

 

 

 
What’s it like living in Iceland? 



It’s great living in Iceland! Except for the weather of course. It´s a rather big volcanic and geographically new Island with very few people on it. The whole Icelandic nation is only 330 thousand people. But we host over a million tourists each year so it is lively and fun. Every town in Iceland is close to nature so outdoorsy people love it there. I don’t consider myself outdoorsy but I still enjoy the occasional walk out in nature. We have a rather strong welfare system in line with the other Nordic countries and a mixed economy so people have a good living standard and are generally healthy with a long life expectancy. That’s why it seems odd that Nordic writers write so much crime fiction as the Nordic countries have a very low crime rate and Iceland especially so.

 

 

Can you share some pictures with us?

 

 

 

Iceland 2

 

 

 

Herðubreið mountain

 

 

 

Iceland 1

 

 

 

Living room scene

 

 

Garden

 

 

 

 
Is your creative process as an author and playwright different?



Yes and no. For me it always starts out with the characters. A character starts living in my head and then I have to imagine a setting for her or him and their drive and there I have the plot. This is the initial process whether I am writing a play or novel. But then when the writing process really starts the novel is easier to write because it gives more freedom, but the play has to reveal everything through the dialogue. With a novel you’re on your own right to the end, but when writing a play the final goal is production where you’ll work with a theatre group to help with polishing.

 

 

 

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What was your response when your play Big Babies won play of the year?

I was very happy of course! It was great and I was grateful for the recognition. In hindsight a big red-carpet moment like this seems unreal but I have such warm memories of the theatre company that produced the play that they will live inside my heart forever. A written stageplay is one thing but it’s the theatre artists that make it alive.

 

 

 

Red Carpet Festival Glamour Scene

 

 

 

 
Why did you choose Noir to tell your story?



The Noir genre has a strong element of storytelling so that is why it is so good for me, because I see myself as a storyteller. I believe that with crime-fiction or Noir the reader has very specific expectations and the success of a story depends largely on how the writer fulfills those expectations. The reader expects to be entertained, to experience tension or a thrill and to be told a story.

 

 

 

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How did you get into crime writing?



In part it was a coincidence. I have always loved writing and liked crime-fiction, but then one day I saw an ad from an Icelandic publisher for a competition called: “the New Dan Brown”. So that was it. My fate was sealed. Since I have written five published novels and my writing career has really taken off.

 

 

 

Crime

 

 

 
Who is Sonia?



Sonia is a young attractive mother that experiences a collapse of her whole world when her husband walks in on her in bed with another woman. The divorce that follows and the custody battle, all taking place in the same dramatic months as the Icelandic financial crash result in her being in a desperate situation. In her desperation she resorts to smuggling drugs and thereby she has entered a world of drugs and crime that she wouldn’t have expected herself to be in just a few months before.

 

 
Does your story bear a theme for struggling single mothers?



Well, I don’t know. The theme I started out with was an exploration of what people do when they feel cornered. When ordinary people find them selves in extraordinary situations they can do things they would never have imagined themselves doing. Sonia, the single mother in the story is one of those people and she does everything she can to regain custody of her son.

 

 

 

 

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What is Sonia a victim of?



First and foremost she is a victim of herself. Snare is the first of the Reykjavík Noir Trilogy and in the coming two books she will come to terms with her own part in creating her fate. But the drug business is international, and even in a small country like Iceland it has quite an impact. The people who have ensnared Sonia are not the nicest types. With all the violence, threats and coercion Sonia feels like a victim. At first.

 

 

 

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What role does the financial crisis play in the series?

 
It’s the backdrop to the whole story. I’m interested in those moments in history when there’s huge changes to society. For Iceland the financial crash had devastating consequences. Many people lost their homes and all their savings and had to start anew. There was a lot of anger and desperation; and in Snare we see characters that are struggling with the consequences of this, although it’s in a very different way for each one of them.

 

 

 

Empty pockets

 

 

 
What’s next for you after the Reykjavik trilogy?

 
I am currently starting on writing a new series that leans more into the political thriller. I hope it will do as good as the Reykjavík Noir Trilogy.

 

 

THANKS!

 

 

Connect with Lilja

 

Lilja profile

 

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

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Audiobook Blog Tour: Timeless by Michelle Madow & Interview with Narrator Andrea Emmes

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About the Audiobook

Author: Michelle Madow

Narrator: Andrea Emmes

Length: 12 hours 57 minutes (Box set)

Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing⎮2017

Genre: Clean Romance

Series: The Transcend Time Saga, Books 1-2

Release date: Aug. 25, 2017

Synopsis: Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from 1815, England… but she doesn’t realize it until she meets her soul mate from the past and he triggers her memories to gradually return.
The series began with Remembrance, was followed by the short story Vengeance, and concluded with Timeless. The series has sold a significant number of copies, and has received much praise from reviewers. Read all three parts together in this special box

 

Audible

 

 

 

INTERVIEW WITH NARRATOR ANDREA EMMES

 

 

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

A lot depends on the character. Who they are? What they are about? I have about 20 “go to” character voices that I’ve use. Kind of a character rolodex if you will that I cast from. For instance, if I have an antagonist that’s a young male, then I’ll cast him as “Blake”; lower, slightly scratchy voice. The Main Character is usually always my voice but again, that might change depending on the book. Perfect example is this series. For Lizzie, the main character in the Transcend Time Saga Series, I didn’t use my natural voice, but a softer, slightly higher pitched voice because of her nature and qualities and then used my natural voice for Chelsea because if just felt right. Especially in Vengeance, the novella that is after Remembrance and before Timeless. Also, if the author gives me notes in the character sheet like, “Sara should sound like Reese Witherspoon” then I’ll work on that. I won’t do a mimic/impersonation of Reese, but I’ll try to capture her qualities, accents, speaking pace and incorporate that into the character voice.

 

 

 

 

Voice

 

 

 

 

 

What types of things are harmful to your voice?

Yelling and whispering are really bad for your voice as is speaking too low and gravelly. It’s important when your doing anything with your voice that you understand how to maintain it and hydrate it. Learning how to breath correctly and choose voices that you can sustain over a long period of time.

 

 

 

first aid

 

 

 

Have there been any characters that you really connected with?

Absolutely. There have been many characters that I just clicked with for different reasons. Lizzie in “Transcend Time Saga”, Ivy in “Love Nouveau”, Farris in the “Geek Girl Mystery Series”, Jo from “Little Women”, and more. Though I might not identify with everything they are going through, there are many things from each character that I can pull from my own experience and dive deep into who they are.

 

 

 

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

I’d be so nervous of messing anything up and creating a Time Paradox or whatever Doc. Brown said in Back to the future, that I’d worry I’d change the future. If I had to choose though, I’d probably like to go to Regency Era England during the Jane Austen times. Not because I like how women were treated back then, which was horrendous, but I’d love to dress up in those beautiful dresses and dance in one of their fancy balls!

 

 

 

Regency Lady

 

 

 

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

I actually don’t have a particular author in mind. But my dream author would be someone who is a strong storyteller who has emotionally rich characters and an engaging story. I’d love to latch on to a series that is as powerful as Harry Potter, Twilight, Mortal Instruments, Dresden Files, etc. It’s so fun to keep growing with your favorite characters.

 

 

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

Um…I tend to burp a lot in the booth! I’m taking in so much air as I narrate that sometimes a really amazing burb just comes out…at the wrong time. Like during an emotional scene and just as I’m getting to the good bits, BUUUURRRRRPPPPP! LOL, then I have to start that section over!

 

 

 

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Thanks Andrea!

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

MTW Blog Cover Image by Eva

 

Interview with Narrator Andrea Emmes

 

Transcend Time Saga Banner

 

 

 

 

 

AndreaOnAudible

 

 

 

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

Well, I kind of fell into audiobooks in 2014 and haven’t looked back since. I’ve been a professional performer (actor/singer/dancer/VO) for over 20 years but in 2006 I got hurt in a stunt show and had to retire due to a disabling pain disorder called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy aka CRPS. I’ve always been an avid reader and during my recovery I read about 8-12 books a week. I went back to college and got a degree in Game Art and Design and was a game designer for Disney Interactive for a couple of years After the layoffs, I had to figure out what I should do next as I can no longer dance, etc. anymore and my husband suggested I look into audiobooks. He’s brilliant and I researched it, set up my equipment, studied with coaches and have enjoyed every minute of it!!

 

 

 

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

That is a great question, but narration can be tedious. Especially because you have to learn a ton of tech and engineering besides just speaking into the mic. It’s important to take lots of small breaks. Especially because it’s not good to be sitting or standing for too long. Because of my disability, I have to narrate sitting down, so it’s important for me to stretch or lay down every once in a while. Also, it can be hard to maintain your enthusiasm because, yes, I have a wicked cool job that I LOVE, but sometimes it’s hard to get into the emotions of the book. But I remind myself that I’m so blessed to do what I do; to have authors and publishers who believe and trust in me to bring their book to life and I don’t take that honor lightly. If I’m struggling or just not feeling it, I’ll step away, play some video games or watch TV or go for a walk and then come back fresh and get back to work!! As long as I hit my deadline, my daily schedule is flexible.

 

 

 

Rest

 

 

 

What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?

Well first, I LOVE Michelle Madow’s work. That was a definite first draw for me as I’ve been a fan of hers for a while and have read some of her books already. What I love about the Transcend Time Saga Series is not just some fun characters and the love story, but I was intrigued by the time travel aspect of it and I’m a huge Jane Austen and Regency Era fan so to be able to be a part of that world and bring those scenarios and characters to life was really fun and fulfilling. I also love anything that has a mystical, supernatural or paranormal slant to it and I loved how Michelle merged the normalcy of teenage issues – boys, relationships, school – and beautifully worked in this fun mythos of time travel and reincarnation.

 

 

 

TranscendTimeSaga

 

 

 

How closely do you prefer to work with authors?

Before I being recording the book, I like to work very close with the authors if they are available. After I read the book, I’ll send any questions I might have to the author if I need clarification and then I’ll also ask them to provide me with a character sheet that describes all of the characters that are most important to them so I can get an idea of what they were thinking about for them. Their quirks, age, vocal preferences, etc. However, since my job as the narrator is to be the producer and director, after the first fifteen minutes has been approved, I will not take acting or directing notes. So it’s important for me to make sure that I have as much as I can beforehand and hopefully leave a lasting impression with the author that their book, their “baby” is in good hands and that I will give it the best that I have to make sure the audiobook, which is now “our baby” is excite the listeners.

 

 

 

Partners

 

 

 

Who are your “accent inspirations”?

When I’m going to be doing accents, I don’t really have a person I’m inspired by. I just try to do as much research as I can to get the accent correct. If it’s RP British in the Regency Era, then I’ll watch a lot of Jane Austen or Downton Abbey. It’s it needs to be really Cockney like someone from Essex, then I’ll find shows like “The Only Way is Essex”. I’ve looked a lot on YouTube, but I also work with some amazing coaches to help me get the accent just right. (PJ Ochlan and Joel Froomkin are amazing!)

 

 

 

 

 

About the Narrator: Andrea Emmes

Audible Best Selling Narrator, Andrea Emmes was born in Hollywood, FL and grew up in both Tennessee and Rhode Island, started her career in musical theater. Cutting her teeth at The Trinity Arts Center in Rhode Island, Andrea eventually made her way to Orlando and began her eclectic career singing/dancing in various shows at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Pirates’ Dinner Adventure, performing as a magician’s assistant, headlining on the Las Vegas Strip and touring Los Angeles as an L.A. Award winning artist with her album, “I’m On My Way”.

Having worked in tv, film and video games, Andrea, a total Book Nerd, now enjoys narrating audiobooks at her home studio in San Jose, California.

Her wide range of character voices and dynamic/emotionally invested performances has reviewers and listeners alike commenting on how she effortlessly pulls listeners in, and has versatility and charisma.

 

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The Transcend Time Saga by Michelle Madow & Narrator Interview

 

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Synopsis: Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from 1815, England… but she doesn’t realize it until she meets her soul mate from the past and he triggers her memories to gradually return. The series began with Remembrance, was followed by the short story Vengeance, and concluded with Timeless. The series has sold a significant number of copies, and has received much praise from reviewers. Read all three parts together in this special box set!

 

 

 

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Please Welcome Andrea Emmes professional audiobook narrator of the Transcend Time Saga written by Bestselling author Michelle Madow.

 

See my review of Remembrance, the first book of the series.

 

 

 

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About the Narrator: Andrea Emmes

Audible Best Selling Narrator, Andrea Emmes was born in Hollywood, FL and grew up in both Tennessee and Rhode Island, started her career in musical theater. Cutting her teeth at The Trinity Arts Center in Rhode Island, Andrea eventually made her way to Orlando and began her eclectic career singing/dancing in various shows at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Pirates’ Dinner Adventure, performing as a magician’s assistant, headlining on the Las Vegas Strip and touring Los Angeles as an L.A. Award winning artist with her album,”I’m On My Way”. Having worked in tv, film and video games, Andrea, a total Book Nerd, now enjoys narrating audiobooks at her home studio in San Jose, California. Her wide range of character voices and dynamic/emotionally invested performances has reviewers and listeners alike commenting on how she effortlessly pulls listeners in, and has versatility and charisma.

 

 

 

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

I, too, have a background in theatre and though I think that it was 100% helpful for me in bringing those acting techniques to my narration, it’s not a MUST. But it does help. Audiobook Narration is an acting job. You are cast to not only bring the book to life audibly, but you must vocally and emotionally embody each character, the tone of the book and entertain at the same time. It’s no easy feat. So for those who don’t have any acting background and want to be a narrator, it can be learned with really great coaching. I know many successful narrators who didn’t come from the acting world but put in so much work to be the best at what they do.

 

 

 

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What type of training have you undergone?

I’ve been studied the art of acting and performing for more than half my life. I’ve taken singing lessons to not only bring a higher quality to my singing voice, but to help with breath control, mic techinques and vocal upkeep. I’ve studied with the best of the best for voice over work for commercials, animation, video games and of course audiobooks. What’s interesting is that the technique for voice over (commercial/animation/videogames) is different for audiobooks. There is a different approach you need to take with NonFiction (which is still acting) and with Fiction. How you approach different character voices but not be over the top cartoony, keeping the narration genuine and engaging to keep the listener immersed. Sometimes, I enjoy the training just as much as the actual narration.

 

 

 

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

I AM! I love them. I’ve always loved story time as a child and in a way, it brings me back to when my parents would read to me. Audiobooks allow you to dive into the world of a good book and amazing characters, hear them come to life with the different voices, etc. and just let your imagination soar. When I’m listening, I can see the world that the narrator is describing. Also, it’s great to keep me entertained while I’m driving, cleaning or going for a walk. I’m a book addict and a total audiophile!

 

 

 

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

Hmm. I think my favorite parts of narrating is when I first read the book, make all of my notes and really work on the characters. I also really love emotional stories, where the characters are going through a hard time, some kind of trauma, or whatever and I can dive into what they are feeling. It can be hard emotionally on me as sometimes I’ve had to stop recording because I have to ugly cry for a moment, but it’s so fulfilling to actualize these moments in a hopefully genuine manner that will touch the listener. The best feeling is when the book is complete and gets approved ☺.

My least favorite part of narration would be if I have to edit/master my own book. That is a very tedious process and whenever I can afford to hire a professional engineer I jump at the chance. (plus, they do a way better job than I do so they are worth every penny!)

 

 

 

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What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?

Wow. That’s a hard question. I think for me, really getting into the mindset of a character, especially an angst-y young adult character and bringing them to life in a believable way is something I feel confident with.

 

 

 

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THANKS ANDREA!

 

See the Audiobook Review of Remembrance and Narrator performance.

 

 

Connect with Andrea Emmes

 

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A special thank you to Jess from Audiobookworm Promotions for organizing this blog tour and providing a complimentary copy for review purposes.  It was a blast.

 

 

 

About the Author

 

 

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Michelle Madow is a USA Today bestselling author of fast paced fantasy novels that will leave you turning the pages wanting more! She grew up in Maryland and now lives in Florida. Some of her favorite things are: reading, traveling, pizza, time travel, Broadway musicals, and spending time with friends and family. Someday, she hopes to travel the world for a year on a cruise ship.

 

 

 

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Connect with Michelle Madow

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.thewritingtrain.com

Don’t miss Mystery Thriller Week!

 

 

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Author Mary Angela Introduces Passport to Murder

 

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Death never takes a holiday, but it certainly can take away one. Will Professor Prather find out who killed her Parisian plans before the end of spring break?

 

 

 

 

© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

 

 

About the Author

Mary Angela is the author of the Professor Prather academic mystery series, which has been called “enjoyable” and “clever” by Publishers Weekly. She is also an educator and has taught English and humanities at South Dakota’s public and private universities for over ten years. When Mary isn’t writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. For more information about Mary or the series, go to MaryAngelaBooks.com.

 

 

Book Blurb

Passport to Murder (Professor Prather Mystery #2)

 

Start with an unlucky number. Throw in a romantic location. Include a dashing Frenchman and an uncompromising professor. And you have all the ingredients for a passport to murder.

This semester, it seems that Professor Prather’s dreams are about to come true. Ever since she was a young girl, she’s imagined going to France, and her French colleague, André Duman, has finally made that trip possible. Over spring break, she and André are to lead a group of students and faculty to Paris to explore the City of Light. But before she can utter her first bonjour, a professor dies, and they are stuck in Minneapolis. She returns to Copper Bluff with an unstamped passport and a mystery to solve.
When André becomes the prime suspect, Emmeline puts her research skills to good use, determined to find out who really killed the professor and spoiled their spring break plans. With thirteen travelers assembled, the possibilities are varied and villainous. Luckily, her dear friend and sidekick, Lenny Jenkins, is close by. Together, they will sort through the conflicting clues even if it costs them time, trouble, or tenure.

 

 

 

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  1. What was your process for creating English professor Emmeline Prather?

I knew I wanted to set my series in a small college town in South Dakota, so I imagined a young professor relocating to the area. The landscape had to be a draw for my protagonist because the pay is definitely not. I like that she’s an outsider looking in. It heightens her awareness of the region.

 

 

 

 

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  1. What do you like about an amateur sleuth versus a professional one? 

I like that an amateur sleuth is not paid to solve crimes. It’s not her job, so she doesn’t have any police experience to help her. The amateur sleuth allows me, as a reader and a writer, to become intimately involved. I like to imagine what I would do in the same circumstances.

 

  1. What are some characteristics of Emmeline that help her solve crimes?

She is an excellent researcher, which helps her dig up information. She also has a degree in French literature, so she’s great at analyzing stories. Combined, these characteristics make her a tough sleuth to beat!

 

 

 

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  1. You affectionately call her “Em.” Describe your relationship to the protagonist. 

Em is so much fun, and I do think of her as Em as I’m writing. I enjoy writing her because she can be incredibly passionate when it comes to education, students, and crimes. Sometimes I get a chuckle out of her antics.

 

  1. What are the dynamics like between Emmeline and her sidekick Lenny Jenkins? 

There is a strong dynamic between Em and Lenny; they balance each other nicely. Em can take herself too seriously, and Lenny—doesn’t. They both challenge each other to see the world from another viewpoint, which is incredibly advantageous for crime fighting.

 

 

 

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  1. Describe some challenges writing Passport to Murder. 

Moving a group of thirteen characters was hard. I had to talk to the airport police in Minnesota and South Dakota. I also had to read about police procedures and what can and can’t be done when police investigate a suspicious death.

 

 

 

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  1. What did you learn while researching this book? 

I learned that the FBI has jurisdiction involving any crime committed in the air. I thought that was pretty interesting! I also learned that a plane can’t land on a full tank of gas.

 

 

 

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  1. Is it challenging writing a mystery? 

Yes, it is challenging, but that’s exactly what I like about the mystery genre. It works both sides of my brain. I spend lots of time making my characters and settings interesting, but I also spend an ample amount of time creating a clever and believable plot. All loose ends have to be tied up by the end of the novel. It takes great attention to detail.

 

 

 

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  1. Do you outline your novels? 

No, I don’t, but I do create a timeline and plot some events before writing them.

 

  1. Imagine yourself as Professor Emmeline.  Given the criminal circumstances, would you make the same choices as her? Why or why not?

That’s a tough one! I think I would. I might try to reveal the murderer in a less obvious way, but if I thought I could solve the crime, I would have to try, especially if it benefited my campus or friend.

 

 

 

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  1. Have you ever been to France? 

Yes, I have been to France and loved my time there. I would like to go back and spend the summer in a little French village. That’s my hobby: looking at vacation rentals in wine country. Maybe some day!

 

 

 

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  1. What’s next for you?

I’m writing book three in the series, A Very Merry Murder. It’s a holiday mystery, so I’ve been spending most of my days dreaming about baking sugar cookies and eating fudge. Not a good omen for the impending holidays!

 

 

 

Connect with Mary Angela

 

© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

 

 

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Maryangelabooks.com

 

 

 

Thanks for ridin the train folks! Come back and see us. Peace out.

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

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The Caitlin Strong Series with Author Jon Land

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Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of the 38 novels, including seven titles in the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series: Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance, Strong Rain Falling (winner of the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense) and Strong Darkness (winner of the 2014 USA Books Best Book Award and the 2015 International Book Award for Thriller). Caitlin Strong returns this October in Strong Light of Day, to be followed by Darkness Rising, his sci-fi collaboration with Heather Graham coming from Forge in June of 2016. Jon is a 1979 graduate of Brown University, lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be found on the Web at jonlandbooks.com or on Twitter @jondland.

 

 

 

 

Tell us about the decision to write a thriller with a female lead. 

Well, confession time here, starting this series was as much a marketing decision as a creative one. I owe the whole concept to the head of mass market sales for Tor/Forge Publishing going back about a decade. At a meeting where we were discussing trends in publishing, he raised the point that thrillers were the most popular genre and 70% of books were bought by women. Yet nobody at the table could name a single female thriller hero. Mystery, yes. But a female Jack Reacher? Uh-uh. So then and there I piped in with “What about a female Texas Ranger?” And in that moment Caitlin was born.

 

 

 

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What do you appreciate about the Texas Rangers?

So many things! First and foremost, they are the most famous and legendary lawmen in American history. The only frontier body out of the Old West to still be around today—and not just around, they’re still operating pretty much as they always have. They’re still gunfighters by reputation, even if they never have draw their weapon. They still command the same respect they always have and have built wondrously on the folklore of their forebears. All those great stories of the likes of Bill McDonald, Jack Hayes, Frank Hamer, Manuel “Lone Wolf” Gonzaulles, and so many more. You see so many male thriller heroes who are ex Special Forces, Navy SEALs, or something like that. Since women can’t service in active duty for special ops, making Caitlin Strong a Texas Ranger was the next best thing.

 

 

 

 

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Did you do any travel related research?

You can never do enough. I get to Texas twice a year and base scenes on where I visit. So you’ll see a lot of Midland in STRONG LIGHT OF DAY, a lot of Houston in STRONG COLD DEAD, and a ton of Austin in STRONG TO THE BONE which comes out December 5. I’m a whiz when it comes to Google searches and, another confession, I write about a ton of places in Texas that I’ve never been to.

 

 

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What’s your process with research? Is there a method to the madness?



That’s a great question because it comes down to process. The method to my madness is not really having a method. I don’t outline and am very spontaneous in my writing, figuring if I don’t know what’s going to happen next, the reader can’t possibly know. So I don’t necessarily know what research I need to do before I start a book. I’ll actually do the bulk of it in the midst of the writing. If I need to know something as specific as the kind of tree you might find a body under in Laramie. Or what that tree smells like. Or what diner Caitlin might in when she visits this town or that. Attention to detail is crucial but the real trick is knowing how much not to say so the reader is left with the impression that I’ve been there, mostly because I don’t give them enough to figure out that I haven’t.

 

 

 

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How do you view Caitlin Strong among all the characters you’ve created over the years?

Easily the best and most fun I’ve ever written. I have so much faith in all of them, meaning I let them do the heavy lifting when it comes to figuring out the plot—or, better stated, my characters are also my collaborators. The reason I can take the risk of being so spontaneous, of literally not knowing exactly where I’m going or how I’m going to get there, is because I trust my character can sketch out the roadmap for me. They write their own dialogue, they make their own decisions, they make their own mistakes. Some of the best scenes I’ve written in this series, I can’t even tell you where they came from.

 

 

 

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What are the stakes and do they affect Caitlin personally?

As far as STRONG TO THE BONE goes, it’s the most personal of any book in the series because we learn for the first time that Caitlin was raped 18 years before when she was in college. The man was never caught. He just disappeared. And now he’s back, his DNA showing up in another victim of sexual assault. So Caitlin, all grown up and a Texas Ranger now, has a chance to slay her greatest dragon. Which brings us to the question of whether she really wants to, because she’s afraid catching him will strip her of the edge that defines who she is. As you can see, there are often aren’t easy answers in this series!

 

 

 

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Is it difficult writing a female lead?



Not really, because she’s so real to me, as are all of my characters. I’ve written serial killers and terrorists, when I’m not either of those. I’ve written Israelis, Palestinians, teenagers, along with blind, deaf and people suffering from other disabilities. And I’m none of those things either. Well, breaking news, you can add to that list the fat that I’m not a woman. Storytelling springs not from the conscious mind but from the imagination, where anything is possible. The key to being a great storyteller is to able to recapture the magic of role playing that children do. I think that’s why so many love books as a adults: because it makes them feel like kids again, the way I feel when I’m writing.

 

 

 

 

“Storytelling springs not from the conscious mind but from the imagination, where anything is possible.”–Jon Land

 

 

 
How have readers responded to her thus far?



Beyond anything I ever could have imagined. She doesn’t have the sales of the Jack Reacher books, but I honestly believe she compares very favorably to Lee Child’s iconic hero. The thing about those books, and the ones featuring Caitlin, is they’re both essentially modern day Westerns. The storytelling, at its heart, is very basic: Somebody good willing to do anything it takes to stop somebody bad from doing something really wrong. That’s the crucial element of this series and any great thriller, as well as why readers have responded to Caitlin as positively as they have: she isn’t just about solving crimes, she’s about preventing something much worse from happening. That’s what makes a true hero.

 

 

 

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Connect with Jon Land

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Amazon

 

 

 

 

Don’t miss Mystery Thriller Week 2018!

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com