Audio Spotlight: The Sparks & Author Interview

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Title: The Sparks

Author: Kyle Prue

Narrator: Jon Eric Preston

Length: 9 hours 14 minutes

Series: The Feud Trilogy, Book 1

Released: Feb. 24, 2017

Publisher: Cartwright Publishing

Genre: Fantasy; Young Adult

One teen assassin-in-training must unite three warring supernatural dynasties before death comes to them all…

Find out why USA Today calls The Sparks “a crackling read” that “builds a vivid world (both) otherworldly and relatable.”

Neil Vapros just wants to make his father proud. The sixteen-year-old aspires to serve his family as an assassin, but he nearly dies in the process. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Neil’s family, as well as two rival dynasties, have abandoned an ancient promise to protect their city. An unknown evil has begun hunting all three houses from the shadows…

As Neil’s relatives fall one-by-one, he attempts to unite the three supernatural families against a common enemy. But earning trust after years of assassination attempts could prove impossible. Neil’s fight may involve more than a bloodthirsty empire, as betrayal rears its ugly head…

The Sparks is the first book in the award-winning Epic Feud trilogy of young adult fantasy novels. If you like captivating characters, inventive world building, and supernatural battles, then you’ll love Kyle Prue’s action-packed coming-of-age tale. Buy The Sparks today to ignite your thirst for adventure!

“A crackling read. The Sparks builds a vivid world that is at once otherworldly and relatable. Characters spring from the page in a deft twist on mythology that belies Kyle Prue’s young age. He’s a voice to be heard.” (Scott Bowles, USA Today)

Winner of numerous national awards including: Best Book in Florida and Best Fiction for Young Adults 2015 from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. The Sparks was runner up for Best Young Adult Fiction at the Florida Book Festival and won Honorable Mentions at the New England Book Festival, Midwest Book Festival, Southern California Book Festival, and the International London Book Festival. Prue also won an International Moonbeam Award and Indie Fab award for Best Young Author.

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Q&A with Author Kyle Prue
  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
    • I think Fantasy stands head and shoulders above other genres as far as audiobooks go. Fantasy, especially high fantasy, is filled with so many deeply textured characters with their own rich traditions and sets of values. These worlds also come with so much dramatism. All that pomp and circumstance is just dying to be read aloud.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • My writing has always been written with the spoken word in mind. (Side effect of my time in the theatre.) Often I would read monologues aloud to make sure that if they were performed they would carry the necessary weight. Preston took that and ran with it.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • Preston auditioned against dozens of his talented peers. However at the end of the day my team and I decided that there was no way it could be anyone else.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • All writing is on some level autobiographical. If an author says otherwise they might be hiding something.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • The Feud Trilogy is filled with so many larger than life characters. Preston’s narration REALLY makes that evident. Whereas when you’re reading on your own it’s possible to fall into a rhythm and start to hear characters talking in the same voice, Preston does an incredible job of adding interesting nuance to every single role.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • I’d probably say, “hey maybe it’s weird to care so much about this distinction. When was the last time you went outside? It’s nice out there. Let’s touch some grass.”
  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    • I took a shower.
  • What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
    • The more I write the rarer I find writer’s block, however when it does come it hits HARD. My advice, while it might seem counterintuitive, is to step away. Sleep. Eat. Watch something. Do some life living. So much of good writing is about finding a flow and forcing words out usually just leads to later rewrites.
  • In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
    • Writing a series is such an advantage from a story perspective because you’re allowed to put things on simmer. You don’t have to force characters through their narrative arcs on a ticking clock. I also think that the more pages you have to work with the more layers you get to add. While one book is a simple machine, a series is a swiss watch, with gears clicking away against each other. The con of writing a series is that you have to write more than one book.
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    • Read. Sorry that’s not a very glamorous answer, but that’s what any author will tell you. You have to read.

Kyle Prue is an award winning author, actor and comedian. Kyle wrote The Sparks: Book 1 of the Feud Trilogy when he was just 16 years old. Kyle has spent the past year on a national book tour visiting over 80 middle and high schools and meeting over 60,000 students. Kyle is now a freshman at the University of Michigan, studying acting and creative writing. He still visits schools and is a keynote speaker for conferences.

Kyle is the founder of Sparking Literacy, a non-profit dedicated to lowering the high school dropout rate by inspiring teens to read, write and follow their dreams. The Sparks has won numerous national awards including Best YA Fiction awards from: The Florida Authors and Publisher’s Association, the Florida Book Festival, New England Book Festival, Midwest Book Festival, Southern California Book Festival, and the International London Book Festival. Kyle also won an International Moonbeam Award and IndieFab Award for Best Young Author.

Narrator Bio

Jon Eric Preston received his Theatre degree from Florida State University after returning from the London program. He earned top honors narrating in the Dramatic Interpretation category on the Speech and Debate team, and performed professionally in Children’s Theatre companies and did National Tours of A Christmas Carol, Twelfth Night, and Othello.

As a SAG BookPAL and a father reading to his two boys for more than 12 years, moving into the booth to record audiobooks was a natural and joy filled progression.
He is thrilled to be narrating and giving voice to the characters for Kyle Prue’s Feud Trilogy.


 

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Spotlight – A Friend to All: Charlie Hoessle, by Diane Key-Biggs

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a friend to all charlie hoessle

A Friend to All: Charlie Hoessle
by Diane Key-Biggs
Illustrated by Shelley Dieterichs
Children’s book, biography

You and your children will enjoy this delightful children’s book entitled A Friend to All: Charlie Hoessle. The book was written by Diane Key-Biggs who worked with Charlie at the Saint Louis Zoo. But the story is told through her son’s eyes.

He asks about the statue of Charlie Hoessle outside the Herpetarium at the zoo and why there is a giant snake around him. He then asks if Charlie grew up in the jungle, why did he like snakes so much, and more!

After hearing him give a talk at a local museum, Carol Perkins, wife of then Zoo Director Marlin Perkins, was impressed with how much he loved animals and talking to people about them. Charlie started working at the zoo part time. He started the education department and then moved up the ranks to become the zoo director. Charlie was the host of the Saint Louis Zoo Show, a weekly public television program that aired from 1968 – 1978.

You’ll want to add A Friend to All: Charlie Hoessle to your list of must have children’s books. With charming illustrations by artist Shelley Dieterichs, A Friend to All: Charlie Hoessle delights with this fun story about a wonderful man who is truly a friend to all!

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About the Author & Artist

shelley dieteriches penguinAuthor Diane Key-biggs is a mom, an animal lover, and a lifelong learner. She has a National Association of Interpreters certification, her Masters of Arts and Education in Multiple Discipline Studies from Webster University, her Missouri Elementary School Teaching Certificate and Washington University Graduate Certificate in Science Education. Diane has been a seasonal park guide at The Gateway Arch and a seasonal instructor at The Saint Louis Zoo and Library for over 11 years.

shelley dieteriches snakeArtist and children’s Illustrator Shelley Dieterichs has been a freelance designer and illustrator for 39 years. She has illustrated numerous children’s books and educational materials. Recent work includes Noodle & Nugget: A Tale of Two Kitties, the Dover Fabulous Fairies Coloring Book, and When Michelle Met the Queen, a new release that Shelley co-authored and illustrated. Shelley has created numerous illustrated alphabets that she uses to personalize products for children, pets, teachers and her Garden Alphabet was licensed for embroidery designs. Shelley’s products and books are available at her website: goodbuddynotes.com. Samples of her artwork may also be viewed online at artbyshelley.com.

Spotlight & Excerpt: The Strong Amongst Us + Giveaway

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The Strong Amongst Us

The Strong Amongst Us
by J.A. Boulet
Genre: Historical Romance

An epic 1875 immigration saga. A love story. An epidemic.
Would you survive?

On a fateful day in October 1875, Nathan Olason steps foot onto the soil of a new foreign country called Canada. With natural sand beaches and breathtaking sunsets, it has been nicknamed paradise. Except it proves to be anything but.

With storm surges, emerging governments, racism and dwindling food supplies, Nathan and his family struggle to stay alive in this foreign wilderness. With the help of a beautiful Cree woman named Anwa, they learn to fish and hunt, surviving against all the odds.

Then just when they think they have prevailed, tragedy strikes an ominous blow, a smallpox epidemic that decimates villages, quarantines the town of Gimli, but most of all threatens to claim what he holds dear the most.

Would you survive?
Be one of the last men standing. Follow Nath on a heroic journey of immigration, manhood, immense love, resilience and perseverance beyond anything we know.

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EXCERPT:

He stared at the beautiful sun, peering over the horizon of gentle waves. The coldness stung, but he embraced it. The lake was much calmer today. He loved it actually; luck was on his side. They would most likely be able to send the funds request of the remaining five-thousand-dollar loan to the Dominion today by boat.

A movement caught his eye. Someone was pulling in a larger boat. He stood and used his hand to shelter from the sun. He squinted into the bright rays. It was just one person, pulling in the boat. He strapped his boots on and scurried over to the dock.

“Hey, do you need a hand?” Nathanael shouted as he approached.

A woman’s voice lilted into the air, gentle but full of strength. “No, I am okay.”

“No, I must! Let me help you,” Nathan insisted.

She looked at him stubbornly, shook her head and relented. “If you must.”

Nath grabbed the rope and helped pull in the boat, anchoring it along the sand. “Is this the boat that will be taking the letter to the Dominion for us today?”

“It is, yes,” she replied. “Sorry for my English. I am still learning.”

“You are native to this land?” Nath asked. “How long have you lived here?”

“Forever,” she laughed. “Ma and Pa were born here, so was I.”

“Interesting,” Nath said. “It is a beautiful land. And a beautiful lake.”

“Yes, Nath, it is,” she replied.

“You remembered my name?”


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

J. A. Boulet is the passionate author of The Olason Chronicles, a historical saga of immigration, love and perseverance. The Strong Amongst Us Book 1 was released on Amazon in April 2020. She was born and raised in Western Canada as a first generation Canadian from European descent. Her parents landed in St. John’s, NFLD as refugees in 1956, a direct result of the Hungarian Revolution. J. A. Boulet was born many years later, raised in a strong Hungarian culture and proudly calls Canada home to this day. She started writing poetry at the age of five and progressed to short stories and novels. She has a keen interest in history, healing, family bonds and embracing the unknown. J. A Boulet writes with a spine-tingling realism like none other, grabbing your emotions and refusing to let go. The Strong Within Us Book 2 is scheduled to be released on November 11, 2020.

She currently lives in Canada with her two teenaged sons and a crested gecko named Mossio. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Reddit.

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GIVEAWAY

J.A. Boulet will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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