Audio Spotlight & Author Interview: Murder At St. Margaret + Excerpt

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Title: Murder At St. Margaret

Author: Lynn Morrison

Narrator: Pearl Hewitt

Length: 8 hours 16 minutes

Series: Oxford Key Mysteries, Book 1

Released: Sep. 27, 2021

Publisher: Marketing Chair Press

Genre: Cozy Mystery

“Grief can change us… rewire our brains and shift the way we look at the world…”

A dead chef. A ruined gala. And the ghosts didn’t see a thing.
As Oxford’s new Head of Ceremonies, Natalie Payne’s first task is to organize St Margaret’s autumn gala. However, her plans are dashed when she finds their famed chef dead in the kitchen.
And then a centuries-old cat informs Nat she has her own magical legacy…and responsibilities. A murder in the halls is a sure sign that something has gone wrong with Oxford’s magical protections.
Now Nat has to solve the murder, find a new chef for the gala, and figure out why Oxford’s magical defenses are down. With the help of Oxford’s magical Eternals and some new friends, Nat has a chance.
But can she do it before St Margaret loses its connection to the magic of Oxford?
If you like cozy mysteries where ghosts walk the halls, paintings come to life, creatures play, and magic seems within reach, the Oxford Key Mysteries are sure to delight.

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Q&A with Author Lynn Morrison
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • I wish! Murder at St Margaret was the first cozy mystery I wrote, and at the time, my only thought was about writing a story which would hold together. I could not have imagined how many copies of the book would sell, or even begin to dream of making an audiobook. It wasn’t until the fourth book in the series came out, and I started to see a steady income, that I began to think about making audio versions.
    • Now that I am farther along in my career, I do keep the idea of audio in the back of my mind as I write. I try to cut down on the dialogue tags and introduce more motion and movements instead. But, I think some of that comes along as part of your natural progression as you get better over time.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • I didn’t start thinking about producing an audio version of Murder at St Margaret until a year after it was released. By then, I had good information on what other books my readers liked. I looked up those titles on Audible and checked which narrators the authors had chosen. Pearl Hewitt’s name came up again and again. She has an incredible ability to effortlessly switch character voices as she reads, and really brings the story to life in a way only audio can. It was no surprise that listeners love her. I contacted her out of the blue via her website, and lo and behold, she said yes!
  • 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?
    • I put together character bios for each of the main characters, and prepared a 15 minute test script pulling out different excerpts from the book. I specifically chose scenes which were dialogue-heavy so I could hear how she would differentiate between the characters. There were a few smaller characters which I didn’t include in my advance preparation. After reading the book, Pearl came up with suggestions for how their voices should sound – and I have to say that she did a brilliant job of it. She recorded the 15 minute sample and I circulated it to a few fans for feedback. Pearl took on board all their comments and then took care of everything from there. I didn’t have to do anything else until the book was ready to approve in Audible.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • I pulled from both my own experiences of living in Oxford and being a professor’s wife, along with doing a ton of background research into the colleges themselves when writing this series. Oxford is such a unique city, and the university is full of quirks and traditions which are fascinating to outsiders. I wanted to bring my readers behind the closed doors of the colleges and let them see what life is really like. I haven’t seen any ghosts in Oxford, nor have any of the paintings come to life as I’ve walked past, but my imagination was more than happy to fill in the blanks when it came to dreaming up the magical elements.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • Writers talk a lot about the importance of refilling your creative well, and I fully agree with that sentiment. I read a LOT of books each year – 150 or more on average. I need to lose myself in someone else’s story to remember why I write.
    • I also spend a long time thinking about a book idea before I sit down to start a project. I flesh it out in my mind until I am super excited to see the story come to life. I am usually thinking one or two books ahead of whatever project I’m currently doing. This helps me keep up my writing pace – each finish line marks the start of something I’m excited to tackle.
    • One of the funnest parts of being a writer (and one of the weirdest) is seeing your characters take on a life of their own as you write the story. I am a plotter. I write a synopsis and outline before I put the first word onto paper. But no matter how much I prep, there is always a moment where a character will suddenly veer in a new and interesting direction. Wherever that happens, I can only sit back in amazement and see where they lead me. It keeps me guessing, even though I’m the writer.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • I wrote this series in first person, present tense because I wanted the reader to feel like they are experiencing everything at the same time as my main character is doing so in the story. When put into an audio format, this gives the story a real sense of immediacy. I think it allows the listener to sink deeper into the tale, and feel as though they are sitting in on the conversations and making each discovery along with Natalie and her friends.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • As an author, I want readers to enjoy my story in whatever format is most comfortable for them. That might be a paperback, or an ebook, or the audio version. Arguing over “which format is better” misses the point – the main focus should be on accessibility. The only person who gets a vote on the format is the reader.
    • On a personal note, my younger daughter is dyslexic, and for a long while she hated reading. She has, however, always loved listening to stories. Audiobooks were a natural fit for her.
  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    • We ate cake! I started a tradition of either baking or buying a cake whenever I finish a book. It gives me something to look forward to when I am elbow deep in edits, and it also reminds my family there is a reward for putting up with my book deadline stress. As I start to get close to the end, we all discuss which cake we want to eat when it comes time to celebrate.
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    • Don’t stress over the quality of your first draft. I am a strong believer that anything can be fixed in edits – even if that means you have to do a major rewrite. Major rewrites aren’t that bad! The key thing is to get a first draft done so you can enjoy the satisfaction that comes from writing a book. It is an incredible accomplishment – and the warm feelings you get will support you through the editing process. I would also suggest that you start networking with other writers in your genre as soon as you can. Join author groups on Facebook or Discord, or post comments and replies to authors on other social media platforms. The writing community is filled with supportive people who are happy to cheer you on or lend a hand (or be a sympathetic ear). Writing can feel lonely at times, and knowing other writers can make a big difference on dark days.
  • What’s next for you?
    • I am hard at work on the next book! I jump from one project to another, and always have at least one book in progress. At the moment I’m working on two books – one is for the Oxford Key Mysteries and the other is for my Midlife in Raven series.

Lynn Morrison lives in Oxford, England along with her husband, two daughters and two cats. Born and raised in Mississippi, her wanderlust attitude has led her to live in California, Italy, France, and the Netherlands, in addition to the UK. It’s no surprise then that she loves to travel, with a never-ending wish list of destinations to visit.

She is as passionate about reading as she is writing, and can almost always be found with a book in hand. You can find out more about her on her website LynnMorrisonWriter.com.

If you want to chat with her directly, join her Facebook group – Lynn Morrison’s Not a Book Club – where she happily talks about books, life and anything else that crosses her mind.

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Narrator Bio

Originally from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in Northeast England, audiobook narrator Pearl Hewitt currently lives with her husband and two children in Houston, Texas. Over the years she has worked as a customer service rep, a teaching assistant, and a teacher, but deep down there was always a performer wanting to get out. In 2007 her twelve-year-old son told her that he believed she was so good at reading stories out loud that she should do that as a job. That was her defining, eureka moment, and she’s never looked back. Pearl immersed herself in training and pursued a career in general voice acting but in 2012 she decided to focus her attention to narrating audiobooks in a wide range of genres. It was then that her professional career blossomed. She regularly works directly with indie authors but also narrates for a number of major publishers and has gained lots of recognition in the process including IAAIS awards, a Voice Arts Award nomination and Audiofile Magazine reviews. Pearl’s is comfortable narrating both fiction and non-fiction titles and has been very successful reading British Regency romance, cozy murder mysteries, fantasy/science fiction, children’s literature, the classics, history, biographies and more.

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Audiobook Spotlight: Minerva, by Edith Pawlicki

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Minerva
by Edith Pawlicki
narrated by Ellora Sen-Gupta
post- apocalyptic, science fiction, coming of age

Action is driven by thought, thought is shaped by emotion, and emotion is controlled by Empaths.

Eighteen-year-old Minerva lives in a city of repurposed shipping containers, dependent on a hydroelectric plant for light and heat, while a nuclear winter blankets the world in snow. Hemp powder meals and patchwork clothes are a fact of life – as is human evolution. An unparalleled Empath, not only can Minerva sense emotions, she can read minds and influence thoughts.

Power has a price.

Starting with her mother’s postpartum depression, suffering has surrounded Minerva. But she has a core of steel, and to prove it, she joins the Guard like her dad. At first, Minerva loves the camaraderie she finds among the brash, strong Vitals, and she learns to use her Empathy defensively. Then two discoveries shock Minerva – the identity of her biological father and her Captain’s illegal use of Empathy – and she starts asking hard questions.

The answers may cost her life.

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Author Bio
edith pawlickiEdith Pawlicki lives in Connecticut with her husband, twin sons, dog, and rabbit. She fell in love with words in fourth grade and finds writing necessary to free the worlds and characters in her head. When she isn’t busy being a mom and author, she enjoys cooking and crafts. In addition to the Immortal Beings series, she has also written a YA science fiction novel, Minerva.

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Audio Spotlight & Author Interview: The Fire Prophecy

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Title: The Fire Prophecy

Authors: Megan Linski & Alicia Rades

Narrators: Jennifer Jill Araya & Graham Halstead

Length: 15 hours and 4 minutes

Series: Academy of Magical Creatures, Book 1

Publisher: Crystallite Publishing

Released: Aug. 26, 2021

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Fire and water don’t mix.

Sophia: I’m Sophia Henley, your typical college freshman. I never expected a lion to be stalking me, nor for fire to come shooting out of my hands to protect my sister. Next thing I know, a drop-dead gorgeous guy shows up on my doorstep to sweep me away to a magical school, where I’ll learn to control my element and bond with a powerful creature called a Familiar.

I don’t believe I’m the savior of an ancient tribe, or the missing piece of a prophecy that’s more myth than reality. Worst of all, I’m forced to enter the Elemental Cup, where I’ll either earn my place in this society…or die trying.

Liam: The night I met Sophia, I didn’t think we’d form an undeniable connection. But I’m from the Water tribe, and she’s fire. I’m forced to push her away even as I’m falling for her.

I lost everything, yet Sophia makes me whole again. Our world is fixed on keeping us apart, but we’re in this tournament together. We have to keep each other alive at any cost – or I’ll give my life for hers.

It’s pretty clear. If I continue to play with fire, I’m going to get burned.


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Q&A with Authors Megan Linski & Alicia Rades
  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
    • Absolutely! There’s a feeling and depth that comes through with audiobooks that you can’t get with black and white words on a page. It definitely makes the bridge from the book turning from fantasy into reality that’s much easier to cross.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • We had no intentions on creating an audiobook for this novel until we saw how popular it was with fans and how many readers loved the story. Once we realized that these characters meant a lot to people, we knew audio was the next natural step.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Megan is disabled, and she writes Liam, who also has a disability. It was easy for her to write a character that shares the same kind of difficulties in day-to-day life.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • We try not to work on projects we aren’t fully invested in. Being passionate about the project and its message is how we find the motivation to keep going even when the words aren’t coming.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • Megan listens to audiobooks. With two kids, Alicia struggles to find the time! Megan enjoys the connection that can be forged between a reader and the story while listening to an actor portray a scene from a novel. It’s just an experience unlike any other!
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • Graham’s performance as Liam during the Elemental Cup is so emotionally resonating. Megan found herself tearing up.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading?”
    • Audiobooks make reading accessible to so many people who are unable to read by traditional means. We love audiobooks, and they are one-hundred percent a valid form of reading!
  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    • We got together at PennedCon 2018 a few months before this book came out and partied the night away!
  • Do you like long or short audiobooks?
    • The length doesn’t matter, as long as the story is good. Sometimes longer is better if it’s a really great actor! All the audiobooks we’ve co-written are super long, though. Some are even over twenty hours long!
  • What’s next for you?
    • We’ll be releasing the third book in the Prison for Supernatural Offenders Series and our ninth co-written title, The Infernal Underground, sometime early next year. Those books are narrated by Vanessa Moyen and AJ Carter, and the first two audiobooks, The Villain Institute and The Criminal Lair, are avaliable now.

Hidden Legends is a fantasy-paranormal academy universe created and co-owned by best friends and USA Today bestselling authors Megan Linski and Alicia Rades.

Megan Linski is a coffee connoisseur who enjoys ice skating, horseback riding, and shopping. Her stories feature themes of community and friendship while advocating for the rights of the disabled.

Alicia Rades is a mother who loves baking cookies, reading tarot, and binge-watching Netflix. She has a passion for personal development and strives to incorporate emotional-empowerment themes into her books.

Both girls love nature, animals, sexy romances, and eating cheese.

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Narrator Bio

Jennifer Jill Araya has been listening to audiobooks since she was a young child, and the fact that she now gets to narrate audiobooks for a living is a dream come true. Jennifer’s training as an opera singer and orchestral cellist lend a musicality and depth of understanding to her narration that help bring her authors’ stories to life. She loves nothing more than giving life and breath to the printed word. When she’s not narrating, Jennifer can be found hiking, biking, running, or generally exploring her home city of Cincinnati with her husband Arturo (aka “Partner in Crime”) and their two children.

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Narrator Bio

Two-time Audie Award winner and recipient of five AudioFile Earphones Awards, Graham Halstead has narrated 180+ titles for Audible, Recorded Books, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Hachette, Harper Collins and many more.

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