Audiobook Spotlight & Interviews: The Cruel Gods + Excerpt

The Thirteenth Hour Banner (1)

Title: The Cruel Gods

Author: Trudie Skies

Narrator: RJ Bayley

Length: 19 hours and 22 minutes

Series: The Cruel Gods, Book 1

Producer: Audiobook Empire

Publisher: Trudie Skies

Released: May 16, 2022

Genre: Gaslamp Fantasy


Cruel gods rule the steam-powered city of Chime, demanding worship and tribute from their mortal subjects. Kayl lost her faith in them long ago, and now seeks to protect vulnerable and downtrodden mortals from their gods’ whims. But when Kayl discovers powers that she didn’t know she had—and destroys a mortal’s soul by accident—she becomes Chime’s most wanted.

Quen’s job was to pursue sinners, until the visions started. Haunted by foreboding images of his beloved city’s destruction, Quen hunts soul-sucking creatures made of aether who prey on its citizens—and Kayl is his number one target.

To ensure Chime’s future, Kayl and Quen must discover the truth of Kayl’s divine abilities before the gods take matters into their own hands.

For a city that bows to cruel gods, it’ll take godless heathens to save it.

The Thirteenth Hour is the first book in The Cruel Gods series—a gaslamp fantasy featuring magical portals, gothic cosmic deities, quaint Britishisms, and steampunk vibes. This is an adult book containing strong language and mature themes that some listeners may find disturbing. For a full list of content warnings, visit Trudie Skies’s website.

Q&A with Author Trudie Skies
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • I’m still completely new to audiobooks, though I’ve written technically five books by now, three of them published. I’d been aware of how popular audiobooks are and how much more accessible they are for certain readers. But I was also aware of how expensive they can be to produce. I didn’t think creating an audiobook would be on the cards for The Thirteenth Hour, at least not within the first year of its release, but then a friend introduced me to RJ Bayley, who explained the process in a way that sounded possible.
    • With RJ’s advice and guidance, we created a contract and signed up to Audiobook Empire. From the author side, there wasn’t much I needed to do, which freed my hands to let RJ do all the hard work while I kept on writing!
    • And then one day, BAM! The audiobook was done! And it was divine.
  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
    • Nah, I think all fictional books have the potential to be amazing audiobooks, but it comes down to the narrator, and how they bring that world and its characters alive. Though even non-fiction books would benefit a reader who needs, say, a cookbook that can be narrated.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • Honestly, it wasn’t something I thought about when writing, though the writing style of The Thirteenth Hour is well suited to narration, I think, due to the first-person voice throughout. The only difficulty comes with voices that the characters may be hearing inside their heads, but RJ managed that, and the other races, really well with differing voices and accents.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • A good friend of mine from the blogging community recommended RJ! At the time, I hadn’t been seriously considering doing an audiobook, but many bloggers had wonderful things to say about RJ and his talents. We shared a few DM’s on Twitter where RJ went over process with me, as I was still new to audiobooks. RJ was so friendly to talk with, that I thought screw it, let’s do it! And that’s one of the best YOLO’s I’ve ever done!
  • 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?
    • RJ has an incredibly detailed guide on how he creates his audiobooks and what would be helpful for me as an author to send over, such as descriptions of my characters, what they may sound like, as well as the theme and tone of the book and any playlist which accompanies it. I sent him over a detailed description of the various characters and races from The Thirteenth Hour in return!
    • Because The Thirteenth Hour has twelve unique races and gods, I described what their personalities were like, and then gave RJ the freedom to go wild with their voices and accents. He has an impressive range of voices, and I was blown away by the finished version!
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • I take a lot of inspiration from video games. The Thirteenth Hour is set within an Edwardian British-inspired world, and I’ve tried to fit in as many Britishisms as I could, almost aggressively so. There’re a few specific references to things like Mr Kipling and the London Underground.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • I play a lot of video games! Probably too many. As I mentioned above, video games are a source of inspiration for me – The Thirteenth Hour has elements from Final Fantasy and The Elder Scrolls – but games are also a way to relax.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • What I love about audiobooks is the ability to listen while working or doing housework, which instantly makes both far more enjoyable.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • Yes! I can’t say for spoilers, but toward the end of the book, things start getting emotionally intense, and RJ’s performance really brought those emotions to life that I think sounds better through his performance than my written word.
    • Also, there is a scene where a character sings really badly. Words can only do so much to capture the awfulness of that singing, but RJ, being a professional, really delivered!
  • What’s next for you?
    • Right now, I’m finishing up the sequel to The Thirteenth Hour, which is called The Children of Chaos. Then I’ll be launching into the third and final book of the trilogy, though I expect I will be writing stories within this world for years to come. Join me in Chime!

Q&A with Narrator RJ Bayley
  • How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
    • I completely stumbled into it. I was working a normal job before I got chronically ill and was diagnosed with diabetes. That made my depression incredibly bad and I went through some psychosis. I had to go off work long-term sick and eventually lost my job. The next few months were spent applying for jobs I didn’t really want and then, also-depressingly, getting rejected for them anyway. It was my wife who mentioned a friend of hers narrated audiobooks through ACX. Doing community radio, I had a microphone and knew my way around Audacity so I gave it a shot. I got the first or second book I auditioned for, at a PFH rate, so I decided it was worth really pursuing as a career. It turned my world around; in part, it, and therefore my wife, saved my life.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I’m an avid listener. Unfortunately I am your stereotypical millennial who is addicted to my phone. When I try to sit down with a book my mind eventually wanders to my mobile, even if it’s the greatest book ever written. Audiobooks are a different matter. I can zone right into them but keep my hands occupied, be it walking my dogs, doing chores or painting my Warhammer 40,000 models. Usually while listening to a Warhammer 40,000 audiobook! I joke that I literally have to be paid to sit down and read a book.
  • What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?
    • People have said I’m really good at making character voices distinct, so probably that. I like to narrate books in a way that I’d want to hear them, so I want the audience to know exactly which character is talking when, even without dialogue tags. I often pick up interesting voices I like from movies, video games, TV or real life and put them in my back pocket so I can give them to an appropriate character in a project.
  • What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
    • It was a combination of the series title and the cover. The cover artwork is absolutely gorgeous which drew my eye. Seeing the series is called ‘The Cruel Gods’ massively appealed to me as there’s little more epic than having gods as your antagonist. Reading the blurb and a sample of the book and discovering what a clearly very talented writer Trudie is, I knew I had to try and narrate this. I feel like I got a sense of her ethics in the sample and synopsis, and I think we’re quite similar in a lot of our outlooks, so that also made me want this project.
  • How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
    • I usually send authors I work with a Welcome Pack. Part of this is a character info sheet, where they can fill in how they see the character, how they think they should sound, their education level, things like that. All of that helps inform how the major characters will sound. Trudie returned an extremely helpful one, including character portraits, which was amazing for my narration. Trudie’s audiobook gave me even more to work with, however. Her characters are from cultures who generally lean hard into certain traits, such as sinfulness or earthiness, so I was able to match them with accents I associate with those traits, be that sincerely or playfully.
  • Do you read reviews for your audiobooks?
    • Yes. Not regularly, but I like to see how what I’m doing is being perceived. Luckily they’re mostly nice!
  • If so, which ones stand out to you most, positive or negative?
    • It’s the positive ones. They’re really good for my self-esteem and they confirm that my approach works for a lot of listeners. I get that typical artist thing, where I find myself wondering ‘is this rubbish? Am I screwing this up? Am I a rubbish narrator?’, so it’s nice to read that’s not usually the case.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • I would ask them if they think that’s true for the visually impaired or others who can’t read, and if they’d say the same to those people. It’s been proven that different folks take in information better in different formats. I and many others happen to find the best way to absorb something is aurally. If I forced myself to read a book rather than listen to it I wouldn’t absorb the book as well – even if I wasn’t distracted by a screen! Obviously this isn’t true for books I’m working on, as that’s a very different process than just reading for fun.
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring audiobook narrators?
    • Don’t be afraid to forge your own path. It’s easy to visit some industry audiobook narrator social media groups and get told ‘there is only one correct way of doing things and any other way is the wrong way.’ That’s rubbish. Test common wisdom. If you come up with a quicker way of doing something that gives equal or even better results, then congratulations, you’re an innovator. Sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to come up with fresh solutions.
  • What’s next for you?
    • I’m extremely fortunate that my next several projects are all with the wonderful people of Audiobook Empire. I’ve just finished narrating the first The Confessions of Pavane book, The Dragonbone sword by Steven Savile and Steve Lockley, so I’ve got the pickups to come back for that one. I’m also about to start the first Dragon Spirits book by L.L. MacRae, The Iron Crown. That’s a big ol’ epic, so I’m excited to tuck into that.

Trudie Skies has been living inside fantasy worlds ever since she discovered that reality doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Through the magic of books, she wishes to share these worlds of hope and heroes with other weary souls. Living in North East England, Trudie spends most of her free time daydreaming about clouds, devouring whatever fantasy books or video games she can get her hands on, and chasing after her troublesome dogs, who would like to reassure you they are very good boys.

Her debut YA fantasy series, Sand Dancer, was published through Uproar Books. Trudie is now writing adult gaslamp fantasy with her new series, The Cruel Gods.

An accomplished full-time voice actor and audiobook narrator with 4 years of experience.

RJ’s voice has been described by peers as a ‘well-weighted baritone, balanced & deep at the same time.’

Natually he’s got a mild Yorkshire lilt that’s trustworthy and relatable. He’s extremely adaptable however and capable of many convincing accents, or anything you throw at him really.

RJ’s broadcast quality studio consists of a fully acoustically treated room, RØDE NT-1A microphone, Reaper digital audio workstation and Izotope RX7 for clean-up and mastering for that high end sound.

So far he’s narrated over 30 audiobooks with more currently in production. As a VO he’s been the voice of brands such as Nickelodeon, Johnson and Johnson, Network Rail, Aegon, Accord and more.

He’s friendly, reliable, professional, takes direction well and always makes sure you’re happy with your narration.

He maintains he’s not trying to ruin his own career by deafening himself with heavy metal on his dog walks.

At Audiobook Empire, audio reigns supreme, narrators are hailed as heroes, and headphones are worn with pride.

Marrying pomp and circumstance with quality you can count on, Audiobook Empire is a full-service production house that produces and promotes audiobooks with gusto.

Give your audiobook the imperial treatment by producing it with Audiobook Empire.



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Spotlight & Excerpt: Fractured Path + Giveaway


I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the FRACTURED PATH by J.C. Cervantes Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


Title: FRACTURED PATH (The Mirror #3)

Author: J.C. Cervantes

Pub. Date: July 19, 2022

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Pages: 384

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, B&N TBD,


Can dreams come true when you’re living with a family curse?

1965—San Francisco, California

The 1960s are bursting with music and movement and love in San Francisco, perfect for a budding artist like Blake. Unfortunately, the art world is not welcoming to people of her gender or her multi-racial heritage, making it tough to land an internship that could put her on the map. That, plus the fact that Blake’s family has been notoriously riddled with bad luck, makes her feel like she can’t catch a break. Things only get worse when Blake starts to have ominous, confusing visions that grow stronger and more frequent, prompting Blake’s aunt and uncle to tell her about a long-lost family heirloom that could be the key to everything

Fueled by the ambiguous clues in her visions, Blake sets out on a journey through the city to retrieve her ancestors’ legendary mirror. But Blake is not the only one looking for it. Soon she must attempt to unleash her own dormant powers . . . or else risk all she holds dear.


“While the beasts of prey, come from caverns deep, viewed the maid asleep.” –William Blake.

Tuesday, March 9, 1965
San Francisco

The rain was a soft pattering outside the classroom window.
A smooth rhythmic dance so unlike Blake’s rebellious paintbrush hovering over the  canvas.
The other Mission High students sat in front of their easels, painting and creating. Some  were pensive and focused; others were gabbing with their neighbors. Blake, on the other hand,  was bleary-eyed and entirely unfocused. She had only managed four hours of sleep last night.  Again.
She blamed it on the strange recurrent dream she’d been having for the last couple of  weeks. A dream that was hell bent on consuming her sleep. Maybe her sanity. Mr. Brown walked around the lively classroom, stopping at each student to offer  suggestions, words of encouragement, things like excellent layering or what does this represent?  He wore a thick wool sweater with plain gray slacks that were an inch too long. The  teacher was young, private, and forever distracted unless he was talking about art.  His hands were clasped behind his back while an overly zealous operatic tune crooned from the little record player in the corner. And while Blake questioned his choice of music, this  was her favorite place to be with its woody aroma of charcoal pencils, the intoxicating scent of  oil paint on over-used palletes, and the pungent smell of brush cleaner. For her, this classroom  smelled of dreams and possibilities.
In the gray afternoon light, Blake stared at her half-finished painting of a girl sleeping in  the same Willow tree Blake had been dreaming about. She tapped her paint brush across the  palm of her hand as if she could loosen the bristles into creative servitude.
Mr. Brown lifted the needle off the record and clapped his hands together loudly, to get  everyone’s attention. “Okay, class I think we need some quiet, contemplative, centering time.” A few groans rose up. Blake, on the other hand, was more than happy to fall under the  spell of one of her teacher’s meditations, close her tired eyes, and crash.
The rain fell steadily as Mr. Brown flicked off the lights, making the room a cool gray  oasis. “Fold your arms on the tables and put your heads down.” His voice was soothing, velvety.  Blake relaxed, inhaled, exhaled. Her eyelids grew heavier with every breath. Her limbs  weightless.
“Now, imagine a calm quiet peaceful place,” Mr. Brown went on. “Let yourself go.” “Where to?” some smart alec asked, but Blake was already drifting.
She began to imagine a stroll along the bay when…
A shadowy darkness unfolds.
Mist rises.
The Willow stands tall, its branches heavy with the weight of untold secrets. With a  resounding crack, the dark trunk splits down the middle.
To reveal a moonlit scene of sweeping trees draped across a stately brick home.  An imposing iron gate adorned with the name Devereux creaks open slowly as if a  phantom is urging Blake inside.
On top of one of the gate’s spires floats a pale blue heart, transparent as glass. At its  center is the drawing of a single brown eye, half closed eyelid, long lashes. One inch lower, Blake thinks, and the iron will shatter the heart. Another appears on a different spire. And  another. Large flakes of snow begin to tumble from the sky and then a woman’s voice comes  from inside the house, muffled and distant.
Blake’s limbs are heavy. An unseen force is pinning her in place, forcing her to see the  heart, forcing her to listen to the whispering wind.
Look. See. Remember.
Startled awake by her teacher’s voice, Blake shot up, banging her knee on the table. A  chorus of laughter rose up as the guy next to her, Bruce, said, “Sleeping beauty not getting  enough rest?”
She threw him a glare before Mr. Brown quirked a brow and said, “Seems you’re wanted  in the office.”
Half awake, Blake rose, adjusted her cardigan and smoothed her dark hair with all the  dignity she could muster.
She took the pink slip from Mr. Brown and headed into the corridor where she found  Olivia, the sixth period monitor. And her best friend.
“You won’t believe what I just heard,” Olivia squealed.
Blake, still a little light headed from her sadly short lived nap said, “You called me out of  class for gossip?”
“Well, yeah,” Olivia said nonchalantly leading Blake down the hall and out of Mr.  Brown’s sight. “Because it involves you.”
“Me? What did I do?”
Olivia tucked a shiny blonde hair behind her ear and rolled her wide set, curious eyes.  She had been Blake’s first friend when Blake moved to San Francisco to live with her aunt Remi  and uncle Cole after her parents’ deaths ten years ago. Their friendship was cemented in second  grade over snails. Willie Johnson had planted one in Blake’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Olivia had been the one to save her from the impending doom of crunch and slime. Blake had  been the one to clean the poor sticky snail before setting it free on lush piece of lawn outside.  The two girls were immediately inseparable after that.
“You didn’t do anything, but…” Olivia stopped, leaned closer. “You know Carl, the fink  from P.E.? Well, he’s friends with Richie and Richie is going to, or at least he wants to ask you  to the prom!”
Richie Bannister. The boy with sharp blue eyes and a Beach Boy grin. The truth was that  Blake hardly knew him —she had only sort of admired him from the baseball bleachers and in  between locker stops for the last several months. He was quiet, barely speaking a few hellos, a  couple of heys, and a single apology for knocking into her accidentally in the hall.
“Richie?” Blake tried to make room for a plausible explanation. “He doesn’t even talk to  me. Why would he want—”
“—because you’re Blake Estancia. That’s why. You’re beautiful and talented and  mysterious. Boys love mystery.”
Blake disagreed with her friend’s assessment. She was not mysterious. She was just busy.  Still, her heartbeats grew into hard anxious thumps. “Liv, please tell me you didn’t do this.” It  would be just like her to play matchmaker, and the thought of that was both endearing and  humiliating.
Olivia released an annoyed sigh. “Of course not.” Then she grabbed Blake’s hands and  smiled. “I thought you’d be happy.”
Happy. Terrified. Stunned. Was there a difference?
“I just wasn’t expecting—” Blake inhaled slowly. “Just give me a minute to absorb it.  And you’re sure?” Her heart started to race again. “We can trust Carl the fink? l?” Liv rolled her eyes. “You think I would even mention it if I wasn’t sure?” Prom.
Blake knew it was a right of passage, but she had given it little thought. She had been  completely consumed by her art since she had applied, at Mr. Brown’s urging, for the most  competitive internship in the city with the amazing artist T.K. Grayson. He had been a child  prodigy, had been compared to Picasso by the time he was fifteen, had shown his work in  premier galleries all over the world by the time he was twenty. Had married and divorced two  actresses and three models by the time he was fifty. Not exactly a role model, but getting the  opportunity to learn from his artistic brilliance, to be his student, sort of overrode all that.
“Richie would definitely make for a nice prom picture,” Blake teased. “But it’s only  March. The prom is two months away. There’s still spring break, exams…” The internship.  “Maybe he’s an early planner. Or maybe he wants to clear the field.”
A tingle of excitement ran up Blake’s legs. “And you?”
“What about me?”
“Who are you planning on taking?” Blake knew Olivia would have her choice of who to  go with.
“I’m keeping my options open. I’m kind of scared that Dean is going to ask me.” “Big burly football Dean?”

“The one and only.”
“Well he has liked you since ninth grade and he’s really nice and…”
“…nice is such a drag. And speaking of.” She reached into her pant pocket and pulled out  a half used pencil with teeth marks and a ChapStick. She glanced over her shoulder then handed  Blake the items, “Can you do your thing with these?”
“Who do they belong to?”
“A couple of guys I’m trying to choose between. I figured you might get a glimpse— good or bad and it would help me decide. So how about it?” She gave a coy expression. “Use  your magic for your best friend?”
Magic . . . ha. She wouldn’t exactly call what she could do that. Magic was the thing that  always felt out of reach.
When Blake was a child, she had wanted to possess her mother’s power. She would  climb her backyard tree, raise her hands like a little sorceress and try to call the magic to her. To  make it bend the branches, incinerate the leaves, blow a gust of wind. Blake’s longing grew to a  size she couldn’t contain—year after year it stretched and pulled, tearing apart her ribs and  clawing up her throat. But her mother’s magic never came.
And even though magic had run in both sides of her family, the greatest powers seemed  to have been held by Blake’s grandmother Zora, a woman she only knew through stories.  According to Remi, Zora had the astonishing ability to create any disguise she desired and move  things with her mind. And then there was her extraordinary music and how she could use it to  channel her powers. That was useful magic. Significant magic that changes the world and your  place in it.
Sadly, Blake had barely-there magic. The rules were simple: She could sense things  when she touched objects—a flash of the sea, or a single note of music, or the taste of lavender  tea, or the fleeting feeling of regret. Nothing more. But the true power was in the object’s  memories, not in Blake. If the object chose to speak to her through any one of her five senses,  she could get a small sense of its history, which could be interesting, sure . . . just not earth  shattering.
Blake’s inheritance occupied an in-between space—not as powerful as her mother and  grandmother’s telekinesis, but not as slight as her aunt Remi’s ability, which consisted of  sending a waft of air to anyone anywhere in the world. The truth was, Blake was just a bits and  pieces girl.
“Nothing on ChapStick,” she said, handing it back to Olivia. “And the chewed up pencil?  I saw a puddle of blood.”
Liv’s eyes went wide with terror. “Seriously?”
Blake laughed. “No, but it sounds more interesting than the soda fizzing I heard.” “Well, that’s not at all helpful,” she sighed.
“I better get back.”
Olivia inched closer, studying Blake’s face. “Hold on…you look terrible.” “What happened to beautiful and mysterious?”
Ignoring Blake’s attempt at humor, Olivia said, “Beautiful and mysterious but with  serious bags. What’s the deal?”
“Just some weird dreams lately,” she admitted.
“About what?”
Blake thought about the dream she had just had in class with the spinning heart and an  eye at its center.
“Just weird symbols and a tree and stuff.”
Olivia pressed her lips into a thin line. “Jung says that dreams are the psyche’s way of  trying to communicate important stuff, so we should try to interpret them.” “Fine, but right now my psyche better get back to class.” Blake started to turn when  Olivia caught her arm.
“I bet I could help you interpret them.”
Blake was about to argue.
“Look,” Olivia said, “you’d be helping me. I’m supposed to find a research project—” “—Liv. I am not going to be your project. And really,” Blake urged, “they’re nothing.” Blake headed back to the art room, where everyone was back to work on their freestyle
projects. Thirty minutes later, Blake set her unfinished painting in her cubby and packed up her  supplies as the bell rang.
“Blake, can you hang back a minute?” Mr. Brown asked.
Shouldering her bookbag, she waited for the other students to file out before she headed  to Mr. Brown’s desk. Maybe he had some kind of technique advice. Maybe he wanted to check  in with how obviously distracted she’d been today. But instead he handed her an envelope.
The paper was crisp, cool against Blake’s fingertips. And then came the image of a shiny  white floor just as Mr. Brown said four magical words:
“You got the interview.”

Fractured Path is the third book in the YA fairy-tale quartet, following one family—and the curse that plagues it—over several generations.

Haven’t read the first 2 book in THE MIRROR QUARTET? Get them now!


About J. C. Cervantes:

J. C. Cervantes ( is the New York Times best-selling author of The Storm Runner, which Booklist called “a rip-roaring adventure” in a starred review. Her first novel, Tortilla Sun, was a 2010 New Voices pick by the American Booksellers Association and was named to Bank Street’s 2011 Best Book List. Jen grew up in San Diego and was fascinated by stories about Maya gods and magic. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter: @jencerv, and Instagram: @authorjcervantes.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Bookbub

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of FRACTURED PATH, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:


Ya Books Central

Excerpt/IG Post


Sadie’s Spotlight

Excerpt/IG Post

Week Two:


BookHounds YA

Excerpt/IG Post


#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog



Two Chicks on Books




IG Post


Lady Hawkeye

Excerpt/IG Post


Rajiv’s Reviews

Review/IG Post


The Moon Phoenix

Review/IG Post

Week Three:



Review/IG Post


Fire and Ice




IG Review


Lifestyle of Me



Books a Plenty Book Reviews



Eye-Rolling Demigod’s Book Blog

Review/IG Post


More Books Please blog

Review/IG Post

Week Four:


Kait Plus Books

Review/IG Post/TikTok Post



Review/IG Post


The Chatty Bookworm

TikTok Review/IG Post



Review/IG Post/TikTok Post


History from a Woman’s Perspective



A Backwards Story

Review/IG Post


The Momma Spot

Review/IG Post

Week Five:


A Bookish Dream

Review/IG Post



IG Review



IG Review



IG Review/TikTok Post


Books and Zebras

IG Review



Review/IG Post


Two Points of Interest


Week Six:



Review/IG Post/TikTok Post


Audio Spotlight & Excerpt: Contact + Giveaway

BANNER1 - Contact

Contact Audiobook - M.D. Neu
M.D. Neu has a new MM sci-fi audiobook out, A New World book 1: Contact. And there’s a giveaway.

A little blue world, the third planet from the sun. It’s home to seven billion people—with all manner of faiths, beliefs, and customs, divided by bigotry and misunderstanding—who will soon be told they are not alone in the universe. Anyone watching from the outside would pass by this fractured and tumultuous world, unless they had no other choice. Todd Landon is one of these people, living and working in a section of the world called the United States of America. His life is similar to those around him: home, family, work, friends, and a husband.

On the cusp of the greatest announcement humankind has ever witnessed, Todd’s personal world is thrown into turmoil when his estranged brother shows up on his front porch with news of ships heading for Earth’s orbit. The ships are holding the Nentraee, a humanoid race who have come to Earth in need of help after fleeing the destruction of their homeworld. How will one man bridge the gap for both the Humans and Nentraee, amongst mistrust, terrorist attacks, and personal loss? Will this be the start of a new age of man or will bigotry and miscommunication bring this small world to its knees and final end?

Universal Buy Link | Amazon

Liminal Fiction | Goodreads

About the Series

A little blue world, the third planet from the sun. It’s home to 7 billion people with all manner of faiths, beliefs and customs, divided by bigotry and misunderstanding, who will soon be told they are not alone in the universe. Anyone watching from the outside would pass by this fractured and tumultuous world, unless they had no other choice.

Todd Landon is one of these people, living and working in a section of the world called the United States of America. His life is similar to those around him: home, family, work, friends, and a husband.

Mirtoff Esmi is the first of her clan to be the Leader of the Nentraee. Her sole focus is to find them a home before their fleet of ships can no longer carry the last survivors of their dead world. With her brother, niece, and Faa (her companion animal) supporting her, she carries the weight of her world on her shoulders.

Mi’ko Soemu remembers the Nentraee home world for both its failures and its triumphs, which is why he holds the position of Vice-Speaker, and supports the efforts of the Nentraee Leader. He is a father and husband first, and will do what he needs to ensure his family and his fellow nentraee are safe and make it to a new world.

These three beings hold the weight of two civilizations in their hands. Will they be able to bridge the gap for both the Humans and Nentraee, amongst mistrust, terrorist attacks and personal loss? Will this be the start of a new age for both species or will bigotry and miscommunication bring these two people to their knees and final end?


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Contact meme - M.D. Neu

A New World-Contact

M.D. Neu © 2019

All Rights Reserved

The scene is a confrontation scene between one of the alien generals, Gahumed, and the leader of the alien race, Mirtoff. For me this scene is a lot of fun and it shows off these two powerful women who aren’t afraid to stand their ground.


  • Rádo (RA Doo) – The á is a hard ‘A’ sound.
  • Gahumed (Gah Mead)
  • Mirtoff (Mir Toff)
  • Tuma (Tu ma)
  • Candra (Can dra)
  • Dála (DA la) – The á is a hard ‘A’ sound.
  • J’Veesa (J Vee Sa)
  • Za’entra (Za En Tra)
  • Martween (Mar Tween)
  • U’Zraee (OO Zray)
  • Nentraee (Nen Tray)
  • ***

“Madam Speaker, welcome to the Rádo.” The female officer stood and bowed.

“Thank you.”

“You honor us with your presence. I’ll let the general know you’re here.” The officer returned to her seat and started tapping on her terminal.

Mirtoff examined the reception area; unlike the civilian ships, this place had a claustrophobic feel. It was built for function, nothing more. She remembered when the ship was under construction at the Candra Shipyards. They barely had the drives working prior to the evacuation. It took five additional years to complete, but the end result was worth it.

“Madam Speaker. You can go in.” The officer bowed again.

Mirtoff bowed in return and proceeded into the general’s office.

The office wasn’t nearly as formal and polished as hers or the vice speaker’s, but it was bigger.

Probably needed to be this large for Gahumed’s girth. Or perhaps her ego.

Various monitors mounted on the walls ran status reports for ship-to-fleet control. This one office could manage the majority of the task force. The monitors displayed only the Nentraee Government Seal. The design comprised of seven gold patterns, each a symbol for one of the clans.

A bank of windows on the back wall showed a view of the internal command center. A large workstation loomed nearby, as did chairs and the conference table that could hold all the generals comfortably for any type of meeting. In this large space, the colors were drab.

I’m not a soldier. I could never work in a place like this. There needs to be plants or color. Something.

“Madam Speaker.” Gahumed offered a curt bow as she stood from her desk. She was a big woman, born for the military, with broad shoulders and a tall frame. Mirtoff was always impressed with how the general managed to keep her brown hair in such snug braids and an even tighter bun.

“General Gahumed. You run a remarkable ship. You should be proud.”

“I’m honored to have such a post within our government.” She tapped her workstation. “Dála, please, bring in two chilled cups of tuma.” She turned to Mirtoff. “You enjoy tuma, correct?”

“Of course.”

Gahumed pointed to the conference table. “Please, come. Let us sit.”

Taking a seat at the table, Mirtoff waited for Gahumed to join her. “I assume you’re here to talk about my suggested plan for dealing with these humans?” Gahumed almost hissed out the word ‘humans.’

“I am.” Mirtoff pulled out her datapad and loaded the information, then swiped it over to the largest of the monitors on the wall. The image started with the Earth rotating. Once it hit the area of the planet she wanted, she zoomed in on a small island continent. The image moved in closer to a smaller island mass off the island continent’s coast. “Your proposal to occupy the area known to the humans as New Zealand is dangerous.”

“I don’t agree.” Gahumed rested her hands on the table. “I picked that area with defense in mind. It’s remote. The land mass is small enough, and we can easily control the surrounding space. They have a limited population of four point six million that can be relocated to Uztralia—”

“I believe they call it Australia,” Mirtoff interrupted.

“Regardless, they share a similar language and background. I don’t see an issue.” Gahumed brought up demographic information of her own. “New Zealand can be made to become sustainable for our needs and allow us business options with the humans.”

“A forced relocation won’t work.” Mirtoff’s ears started to swell and warm up.

Relax. Don’t let this plan anger you.

Mirtoff took a breath. “How will that help us build a positive enough relationship with them so we can conduct trade?”

“We could offer them helium-3 for the territory,” Gahumed countered.

“And what if the Australians don’t want four point six million new humans?”

“Why not?” Gahumed smirked. “They have the land mass, and from the reports, the two territories have good relations.”

“The issue, as I understand it, is none of Earth’s governments are willing to give up their territory to us—”

“Madam Speaker,” Gahumed interrupted, “they are a barbaric species that fight among themselves for land all the time.”

“And how would we be any different?”

“It’s not the same thing,” Gahumed said.

It’s exactly the same thing. You don’t want to see it. You’re a hypocrite.

“We can’t trust them.” Gahumed swiped her hands over her datapad. “They won’t work with us in peace and certainly we can’t trust them to be truthful with their motives. Despite what you and the vice speaker may think. We can easily go there and use our military to take over the area. Then we move the humans and make reparations.” She picked up her datapad. “Denes and my staff have run the scenario based on the information we’ve gathered. The losses were negligible.” She swiped the data up to the monitor.

“Yes, General Gahumed, I’m sure the work of your son is admirable and perfect.” She rubbed the tips of her ears. “Just like him—”

“Are you mocking the abilities of my son? He is a fine male with a brilliant military mind. He is the type of male that every Nentraee of his gender should strive to be.” Her full lips pulled into a stiff line, and her ears started turning an angry shade of blue.

“Of course, General Gahumed, he’s the perfect male. Unlike all others. We are all aware of this fact.” Mirtoff forced her gaze not to move from the general’s. How poor Denes lived with the pressure for perfection was impressive.

It’s possible, on that fact alone, he may actually be perfect.

“I don’t appreciate your tone, and as a full member of the Speaker’s House, I would expect better.” Gahumed didn’t bother to hide the tips of her ears.

This isn’t going well.

“My apologies.” Mirtoff offered a stiff bow. “You want to go to war with the humans for territory? That is not the way of J’Veesa.”

“Don’t assume to understand J’Veesa’s will. Your people don’t have the relationship with J’Veesa that mine do.” Gahumed’s ears flared.

Mirtoff kept quiet.

Your people. My people. What is the difference? J’Veesa sees us equally.

Gahumed swiped information to the largest monitor. Battle statistics filled the screen. “I don’t consider it a war, more of a forced relocation. We’ll be fine.”

“And if they decide to involve other countries?” Mirtoff rested her datapad on the table. “Then what? It’ll be the Clan Wars all over again. Haven’t—” She stopped and her chin dropped to her chest.

We’ve been through that once on our world. How can we force that on another?

“It’ll be nothing like the Clan Wars.” Gahumed sat taller in the seat. “Once, these humans see our military might, they won’t challenge us. They would lose even if they used their strongest military deterrents. It would be nothing like the slaughter that your clan caused back then.”

Mirtoff’s eyes shot up. “The Za’entra? They were fighting back your clan because they had no choice. Your clan and the Martween and U’Zraee clans were slaughtering them. It was only because of their numbers that they were able to endure. How can you say—”

“I speak the truth.” Gahumed slammed her hands on the table, causing it to shake. “You and your clan have always blamed us for that war. We never started it—”

The soft chirp of the door interrupted them. They both turned as Dála entered, holding a tray with two cups on it. She quietly placed a cup in front of each of them and left the room.

“I’m sorry, General Gahumed.” Mirtoff stood, the tips of her ears on fire. “I appreciate your proposal. However, I came to inform you that your suggested plan for New Zealand has been rejected. We will not risk war with the humans to gain territory.” She glanced at the tuma and then back to Gahumed. “I appreciate the offer of the cup of tuma. However, I’m afraid I can’t stay.”

“This is a mistake, Mirtoff.” Gahumed stood. “You’ll see when they resist the arm of peace that you and others in the Speaker’s House extend to them. My idea is the only one that can guarantee the safety of our people.”

“No, General. I would sooner leave this planet than go in and slaughter them.” Mirtoff headed out of the office, her hands in tight fists.

There is a peaceful solution. I need to find it and keep the military generals from forcing us into an armed confrontation. I won’t be the first speaker general to go to war with an alien race.

Author Bio

M.D. Neu
M.D. Neu is an international award-winning inclusive queer Fiction Writer with a love for writing and travel. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley (San Jose, California) and growing up around technology, he’s always been fascinated with what could be. Specifically drawn to Science Fiction and Paranormal television and novels, M.D. Neu was inspired by the great Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Stephen King, Alice Walker, Alfred Hitchcock, Harvey Fierstein, Anne Rice, and Kim Stanley Robinson. An odd combination, but one that has influenced his writing.

Growing up in an accepting family as a gay man he always wondered why there were never stories reflecting who he was. Constantly surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, M.D. Neu decided he wanted to change that. So, he took to writing, wanting to tell good stories that reflected our diverse world.

When M.D. Neu isn’t writing, he works for a non-profit and travels with his biggest supporter and his harshest critic, Eric his husband of twenty plus years.

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