Audio Spotlight: Little Men Big Treasures + Interviews

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Title: Little Men Big Treasures

Author: J. Edwards Holt

Narrator: Simon Maeder

Length: 3 hours 43 minutes

Series: Little Men, Big Treasures, Book 1

Publisher: J. Edwards Holt

Released: July 16, 2020

Genre: Fantasy

O’balin, son of Blorn, is an eager young dwarf and a native to the mysterious Mountain Realm. Having been a treasure hunter for most of his life, O’balin is overjoyed when he hears that the king of the Mountain Realm is offering a vast reward to the one who finds The Lost Treasure of Undur, a long-lost treasure that has been missing for generations.

Despite warnings from his neurotic brother and others around his home, O’balin is unable to pass up such a grand opportunity and thus gathers a handful of his family and friends to accompany him on the journey of a lifetime. Along the way O’balin and his comrades experience grand adventures, incredible battles, fun and laughs, sacrifice, and even loss in the first to come in a series of epic tales by Author J. Edwards Holt.

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Born in North Carolina, United States, J. Edwards Holt always knew that he wanted to be a writer. After graduating high school, he attended college and pursued a degree in education, but later decided to change course and follow his dream to become a novelist and children’s author.

Now a full-time writer, editor, and blogger, Holt spends his free time dreaming up stories and reading. He is passionate about spreading Christian messages through his writing, watching science fiction and super hero movies, and collecting comic books.

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Q&A with Author J. Edwards Holt
  1. Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    1. It was an interesting process, for sure. “Little Men, Big Treasures” was the first book I ever published but it actually ended up being the third to make it to audio. When I first found out about Audible, I had no idea it was even possible to get my books on there. I did a lot of research and spoke to some fellow authors and they told me how to get my books on audio. And I’m glad I did! I’m proud for everyone to hear these books and there’s really nothing like hearing your own story read by a professional narrator!
  2. Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
    1. I think it all depends on what you like listening to. If you like mystery, then you’ll enjoy a mystery audiobook. Or if you like documentaries, you’ll enjoy that kind. It all depends on the reader and of course, the narrator.
  3. How did you select your narrator?
    1. For each of these books, I had a number of narrators audition. There was something about the narrators I chose that really stood out. All three did a great job of reading and bringing the characters to life.
  4. How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    1. I definitely gave them some help with pronunciations. Most of the names I just told them to pronounce how ever they like (since that’s what the readers do) but some I have them ideas for, and they were very cooperative.
  5. Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    1. Certainly. I listened to my first audiobook back when they started becoming available on iTunes. My favorite thing about them is that you can just sit back and let your imagination take the wheel.
  6. What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    1. I don’t completely agree with that. I mean there’s no denying how good reading is for you, but sometimes we’re in situations where we can’t read a book or we just want to listen. So, I believe that the audiobook is a great addition to the reading experience, rather than a total replacement.
  7. How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    1. I really didn’t! I actually dived right into the second one and was busy with promotion so I didn’t have much time to celebrate.
  8. In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
    1. So far I have written one trilogy and am working on book two of another. I enjoy writing a series but after this next trilogy I plan on mostly doing stand-alone books for a while.
  9. Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
    1. Yeah they have, actually. In fact, some of the ideas for these very stories came to me in dreams.
  10. What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    1. Go ahead and write the book! Don’t wait around, just do it. Even if you don’t think you’re ready, go ahead and start.
  11. What’s next for you?
    1. I’m currently working on my second trilogy. It’s called “Barrenworld” and its a sequel to the “Little Men” series.

Simon Maeder is a UK based voice actor with a professional grade home recording set up. He also has links to London studios if you prefer. He produces his own young adult fantasy podcast called ‘Benlunar’ which he writes and records on his home set up. He has a warm and enthusiastic voice and enjoys bringing life to characters with a variety of tones and accents.

Q&A with Narrator Simon Maeder
  1. When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
    1. I started doing audiobooks at the end of 2019. It started out as a bit of an experiment, I wasn’t earning much from it but I had this mic and I was starting a podcast and a friend told me what he did to earn some money narrating books. I realised I had all the skills and equipment already so why not give it a try? I’ve mainly done stage work for the past 10 years, so when the pandemic hit I had to find new ways of making money, so I gave audiobooks another try and it went well!
  1. How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
    1. I grew listening to audiobooks so I always loved the medium. I just had no idea there was such a demand and that I could do it from my own home. To me, audiobook world was one where you’re already an established actor in TV or film, I didn’t have that, but people always told me I had a nice voice so I started moving more towards audio in my work.
  1. Did you find it difficult to “break into” audiobook narration? What skill/tool helped you the most when getting started?
    1. I learned as much as I could from Youtube and friends who already did it. I have a close friend who makes music for audiobooks sometimes so he helped me a lot on the tech side of things. I made a few mistakes when I first started but I learned quickly!
  1. A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
    1. I think that’s because we all start our acting lives doing theatre! That’s certainly how I got into performing: school plays. Narrating an audiobook is definitely a performance so it’s useful to have that background in stage work. Theatre forces you to interrogate text and bring characters to life, it’s no different in the audiobook world, only you’re the one doing all the characters…
  1. What type of training have you undergone?
    1. I have a BA in English literature from the University of York and an MA in performance from the Jacques Lecoqy School of Movement and Theatre in Paris.
  2. How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?
    1. I space out readings. When I first started I didn’t know exactly how long I could read for at one time. I would read for a couple of hours every and getting very frustrated that I was making so many mistakes! So I started limiting my time and spacing out readings. The work is better and I produce more than when I was trying to get it all done as quickly as possible.
  1. Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    1. Oh yes! I love two things: books and performance. When you find a book where the writing is great and the performer suits the world perfectly then you get a unique audience experience. It’s very immersive!
  1. What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?
    1. My favourite part is finding the voices. I’ve always done accents and voices and so trying to bring a character to life my find their perfect tone and accent is something I really enjoy. My least favourite part is probably editing…
  1. What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?
    1. I think I’ve got good pacing and I like my voices. I don’t have the deepest or most recognisable voice but I think my strength is in my interpretation and voices.
  1. Is there a particular genre you feel unsuited for? Have you ever declined a project because you didn’t think you were right for it?
    1. There are certainly genres I haven’t done yet… I’ve never done a sort of steamy, romantic book and they are popular books to listen to so there are a lot on the job market. I’ve auditioned for them but they mainly use female voices so I think I’m unsuited! I don’t think I’ve ever declined a project… I have stopped an audition halfway through and thought: I fundamentally disagree with these ideas so I’m not going to want to read the whole thing. I won’t sell it.
  1. What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
    1. I always look out for fantasy books, I love the genre, I write fantasy and I have a good voice for it. So when I saw the cover art and read the subject matter I was already like: I’m in!

 

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Spotlight & Excerpt: Dropnauts + Giveaway

Dropnauts

Dropnauts - J. Scott Coatsworth
J. Scott Coatsworth has a new diverse sci-fi book out in his Liminal Sky universe: Dropnauts. And there’s a giveaway!

Life after the Crash.

Over a century after the end of the Earth, life goes on in Redemption, the sole remaining Lunar colony, and possibly the last outpost of humankind in the Solar System. But with an existential threat burrowing its way into the Moon’s core, humanity must recolonize the homeworld.

Twenty brave dropnauts set off on a mission to explore the empty planet. Four of them—Rai, Hera, Ghost and Tien—have trained for two-and-a-half years for the Return. They’re bound for Martinez Base, just outside the Old Earth city of San Francisco.

But what awaits them there will turn their assumptions upside down—and in the process, either save or destroy what’s left of humanity.

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Giveaway

Scott has a Rafflecopter giveaway with this tour:

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Excerpt

Dropnauts Meme
We’re going home.

Rai sweated inside his suit, white-knuckling the arms of the retrofitted launch chair under his suit gloves. He watched the Zhenyi’s launch countdown clock.Sixty, fifty-nine, fifty-eight…

Outside he was calm, but inside he vibrated like an erhu string, his stomach doing acrobatics in his chest. I’m not ready.

Five teams of dropnauts had strapped themselves into their jumper ships, prepared for the ascent from Redemption on the lunar surface to Launchpad station.  Outside his porthole, the blue-green marble of Earth beckoned.

Forty-five, forty-four…

Rai cast a nervous glance at his three teammates. Hera was doing her preflight check, her back to him, sweat dripping down the umber skin of her neck from her short-cropped, curly black hair.

Behind him on his right, Tien’s eyes were closed, and she was still as a golden statue. Zen.

He turned to find Ghost looking at him from behind. His ex grinned, running his hand through his lanky, dirty blond hair, his green eyes twinkling. His skin was as white as Rai’s own, but with a dusting of freckles over the bridge of his nose.

Rai managed a pale imitation of a smile back. –It’s totally safe.- Ghost<’s voice pinged in his head, em to em.

Sure. Easy for you to say.- Ghost had never feared a thing in his life.

Rai sighed. If he had to, he could take the small ship apart and put it back together with his bare hands, a skill learned under Sam’s supervision—the mech was as harsh a taskmaster as any human Rai had ever worked for. Still, he felt like puking. The speeches and adulation of the farewell celebration were over, and now his doubts circled like vultures. I’m not ready.

Thirty-two, thirty-one…

-You’ll be ok.- Hera<‘s determined voice this time. She turned to squeeze his knee, and then fired up the Zhenyi’shydro-fuel engine. He flashed her a sheepish grin.

A hundred meters away, the Bristol’s takeoff shook the landing pad. Rai watched it rise, carrying Dax, Jess, Ola, and Xiu Ying, the London team, toward the bright stars above. The jumper’s expelled water froze almost instantly, falling as snow over the snaking lava tube that held the city of Redemption. A lunar blizzard whipped by them and shimmered into nothing.

Rai closed his eyes, remembering the night before. Jess, laughing and dancing with him at Heaven, the clear dome of the lunar sky sparkling above them, the heavy beat of the thromb club pulsing through his chest. Dancing like no one was watching.

He rubbed his jaw. It still ached from the fist hed taken to the face. Wild party. And a wilder night with Ayvin, the jack hed picked up at the club.

Zhenyi, ready for liftoff in T-Minus ten seconds.” Sam’s voice, coming from Team Five’s ship, the Liánhuā, was cool and collected. Did the mech feel emotion, like the nausea that was boiling in Rai’s guts? His teammates were strong, smart, and prepared for anything. I can do this. Besides, it was too late to back out now.

“Affirmative.” Hera shifted in her seat, her biframes stretching her paralyzed legs for her.

“You’ll do okay, tiger.” Ghost elbowed him in the ribs.

“Six, five, four…” Hera swiped the glossy white control deck, and the launch controls appeared, floating over the white surface.

“Leave him alone.” Rai could hear the icy frown in Tien’s voice.

He closed his eyes, willing his stomach to calm. Here we go. Nothing he could do about it now.

“Three, two, one… hang on.” Hera fired the engines, and the craft lifted on a cloud of steam into the star-filled skies of Luna.

Rai squeezed his armrests again as G-force pushed him hard back in his seat. He was committed now. Poppies, Chinese Houses, Fiddlenecks, Baby Blue Eyes, Yellow Pansies, Star Lilies… Reciting the flowers of the old San Francisco basin helped soothe his abraded nerves as the rumbling of the little craft rattled his bones.

He opened his eyes to see Redemption receding below them. The great lava tube was striped with sparkling bands of solar receptors that let sunlight into the city below. Rail lines snaked out from Redemption to the transit center like roping vines—to the seed launcher at Copernicus Crater, to Renewal colony, and beyond.

As the city shrank below them, his fear turned to sadness, a lump forming in his throat. He’d taken his home for granted, enthralled by the idea of joining humankind’s greatest adventure in a century. Now he might never see it again.

The hydro rocket thrust them up out of Luna’s gravity well into naked space, toward the bright blue skies of the empty Earth above. Rai stared at it, that enigmatic ball in space which no one had visited in over a century. What secrets are you hiding?

The roar cut off as quickly as it had begun, leaving the Zhenyi drifting upward in silence as they slipped out of Luna’s grasp.

Hera’s hands flew across the deck, swapping the launch controls for navigation, and nudged them onto a new course following the Bristol toward the Launchpad.

Rai let go, his breath coming out in a heavy sigh.

“See? That wasn’t so bad.” Ghost unbuckled his seatbelt and stretched, yawning as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

God, he’s beautiful. Pale as his namesake under his mop of dirty blond hair, the engineer’s thick arms were just a suggestion under the bulky suit, but Rai could still see them in his mind. Ghost’s well-toned muscles, the smell of his skin after—

“You okay, buddy?” Ghost was staring at him, one dark eyebrow raised in concern.

Rai bit his lip and looked away. “Just nervous. Wondering if we’ll ever make it back home”

“Hey, if things go well after the drop, maybe you and me could open the first Earthside bar since the Crash.” Ghost leaned over him from behind to stare at the Earth through the porthole, his cheek close to Rai’s.

“That’s crazy.” But his spirits lifted. It was idiotic. And just the distraction he needed.

Ghost sank back into his own seat. “Every outpost needs a good bar where the colonists can blow off a little steam, right?”

Rai laughed in spite of himself, warming to the idea. “We could call it ‘The Frontier’.”

“‘The Wild Hookup’.”

“Best beer this side of the planet.””

Only beer!”

Rai snorted. Just like old times. He hadn’t forgiven Ghost, though. Not yet. He looked down at his gloved hands, emblazoned with the leaf-and-orb of Redemption’s space service.

Things had ended badly between them—crash and burn bad. Still, they’d be too busy the next few weeks to think about anything but the drop. The survival of Redemption and the remnants of humanity depended on them.

He could let it go. I have to. He’d managed the launch, after all. I can do this too.

Ghost squeezed his shoulder and closed his eyes, touching his temple and bobbing his head to a song only he could hear.

Rai turned away.

“You’re stronger than any of us. Hera had told him that the night before. Still, he didn’t feel strong.

He looked out of the porthole again at the Earth—the same view they’d had from Heaven. And yet somehow, it looked different. More real.

Poppies, Chinese Houses, Fiddlenecks, Baby Blue Eyes, Yellow Pansies, Star Lilies…

He touched his hand to the porthole. Even through the glove, it was cold. We’re going home.


Author Bio

AUTHOR AVATAR J. Scott Coatsworth
Scott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.

He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

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Spotlight & Excerpt: Westwood University + Giveaway

westwood university banner
Westwood University
Westwood Chronicles Book 1
by Alexandria James
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Fantasy Romance

 

3 months. 90 days. 2,160 hours.

That’s all it took for my world to fall apart.

My life had always been so certain, I’ve had a concrete plan for as long as I can remember.

Until the day I was accepted into Westwood University.

Until I let anger morph my actions.

Until I opened the gates of hell.

Until him.

His eyes are what first caught me, I was a fly in his web. Once I was bound in the threads, I was doomed. I let him consume me, all of me.

I was in too deep when he told me the truth…

 

westwood university teaser 6

 

westwooduniversity - excerpt

At the end of the class, I felt like my head was about to split open. This class was already intense and it was only day one. When he dismissed us, the professor asked to see the student he called “Mr. West” and he did not look happy.

I had an hour before my second class started and decided to get a head start reading the first chapter of my Cell Biology book. I sat under a large oak tree facing the parking lot, avoiding some students from my class who flipped me off when I left.

Four pages into my chapter, I almost jumped out of my skin as the boy who sat next to me in class sat down beside me with a grunt. “Hi,” he said as I looked up at him with wide eyes, my stomach dropping with a fluttering feeling.

I quickly pushed past it, looking around to see people whisper. “Listen, if you’re here to prank me or scold me about the bell, trust me there’s no need. I know I fucked up,” I said defensively and started to put my book away to leave.

His hand fell on my book to stop me. “Definitely not here to prank you or scold you. Actually, I’m here to thank you. The bell distraction… helped me, per se. So, thanks.”

I took my book back out and nestled into my spot. He looked normal enough, too hot to be real, but I didn’t get any bad vibes from him. “Are you a believer in the gates of hell?” I mumbled, watching him from the corner of my eye.

He dusted off some invisible dirt from his black Nikes and smoothed out the dark denim of his jeans. “Yes. I am,” he said in all seriousness.

“Yet you’re not mad at me…” I trailed.
He laughed and looked at me. “No. You had some balls to ring that thing, I’m impressed.”

I turned toward him. “You’re not worried I doomed the school?”

This time he didn’t laugh. “This school was already doomed, you just set off an early release button. Plus, it takes about a month for the bells ring to fully awaken anything. So no, I’m not really worried. I’m excited.”

I looked at him dumbfounded. “Right…Well I don’t mean to be rude, but I need to study a bit before my next class,” I said and held up my book for emphasis.

“I’ve got that class too, with Mrs. Saunders?”

I pulled out my phone and looked up my class list again. “Yeah,” I mumbled.

“May I see your phone?” he asked with his hand out.

I reluctantly handed it over, thinking he wanted to look at my class list. He mumbled about a few of my professors once he had the device in hand and then clicked out of the app.
“Wait, what are you doing?” I asked.

“Giving you my number,” he said, throwing me a brief, perfect smile and then looking back down.

“I didn’t ask for your number,” I said with venom to my words, holding my hand out for my phone.

He ignored my annoyed tone and handed my phone back. “Want me to show you where the class is?” he asked.

I looked down at my screen, still lit with his name and number. “Phoenix?” I said aloud, not looking at him.

“Yep.”

When I didn’t respond he got my attention with a hand motion. “And yours would be?”

I eyed him for a moment and put my phone away. Standing up and grabbing my bag I sighed. “Ezlynn.”

He stood up too and held out his hand, I shook it. “Well, Ezlynn, it’s nice to meet you. It looks like we’re in the same degree program, so I’ll see you around. Did you need help getting to class?” His tone held no sarcasm and I was taken aback that he might be sincerely helpful.

I shook my head. “No, thanks though. I’m actually going to head back to my dorm for a little bit. I’ll see you there?”

He smiled at me; his black eyes so intense that I had goose bumps on my arms. “Yeah. I’ll save you a seat.”

“Thanks,” I said and waved as I turned around to walk back to the dorms.

Alexandria James was born in California, but raised all over the US due to being a child of the military. She loves to laugh, sing and write– when not spending precious time with her family. Alexandria lives in South Florida with her husband and two sons.
 
 
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