Audio Spotlight: Foundra + Author Interview

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Title: Foundra

Author: Emmanuel M Arriaga

Narrator: Melissa Reizian

Length: 16 hours and 7 minutes

Series: Foundra Series, Book 1

Publisher: EA Starchilde Company

Released: Mar. 4, 2022

Genre: Science Fiction; Space Opera

15th Annual National Indie Excellence Award Finalist
2021 Reader’s Favorite Finalist for Best Sci-Fi Romance Novel

The Huzien Empire has existed for 80 millennia and a powerful invisible force known as the enesmic permeates every aspect of the Twin Galaxy.

Neven is an engineer working for the pinnacle of scientific achievement known as the MinSci on the Huzien homeworld of Thae. His genius draws the attention of one of the immortal Founders and he finds himself drafted into the military as part of an elite group of special forces known as the Founder’s Elites. Not given much time to adjust, his team is called to investigate stories of otherworldly creatures attacking fringe colony worlds.

Soahc is the most powerful wielder of the enesmic in the Twin Galaxy. He’s also incredibly cocky. That is, until he senses a powerful shifting in the enesmic that he can’t explain. Terrified that something is horribly wrong, Soahc leaves his comfortable planet and hitches a ride with Neven and the Founder’s Elites as they investigate the carnage on the fringes of the empire.

Neven, Soahc, and their allies discover something ancient from another plane of existence. Something that exposes the fragility of their galactic empire as they fight to survive annihilation from enesmic beings.


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Q&A with Author Emmanuel M. Arriaga
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • When I created Foundra, I had a mental image of how the characters looked and sounded. It was incredibly valuable to document this process during the creation of Foundra, especially the phonetic process because it helped me further flush out aspects of the universe and language that had simply been in my head before hand. When you have to explain to a narrator how to pronounce something, it makes it real, and the first time you hear it spoken by an incredible professional like the narrator for Foundra, it blew my mind. During our collaboration on this project, Melissa invested a lot of energy in getting the pronunciation just right and I appreciated that professionalism.
  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
    • I spend most of my reading time listening to audiobooks, I think it brings the content to life in a way that is true to life for the original author and their vision of the characters. With that said, I think audiobooks with a lot of action translate very well. Combat scenes and intense moments of conflict build up that suspense in a way unique to the format.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • I always planned to have Foundra made into an audiobook. When I was in the final editing stages, I actually read the novel out loud, to make sure it flowed well. It was something I did unintentionally that really brought the story alive for me and something that I was excited to work with a professional to bring to everyone.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • I spent a lot of time with auditions for Foundra. I utilized the acx platform and invested a lot of time and energy in going out and looking for great narrators. I would reach out to them directly and ask them to audition. This was how I met Melissa. After I heard her read my book, and the care and thoughtfulness that she spent in bringing the story to life, I knew immediately that she was the right narrator. People say it all the time but honestly, once I heard her audition, I knew I found the right person. I had over 15 people who had auditioned, many of them very good, but Melissa was heads and shoulders above the rest and just treated the content like it was special, putting energy into it that I hadn’t seen from anyone else.
  • 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?
    • We worked very closely during the original creation process, many text messages were exchanged with audio clips and questions about how to say something. It was a learning process for me and a valuable experience for understanding the process for how an audiobook is created. It’s not as simple as most people think and involves a lot of time and effort, re-listening to clips, noting down changes, etc. It’s a time investment for the narrator and the author (and producer if the narrator doesn’t do their own production).
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Some of the characters in Foundra were inspired by people I know in real life. I say inspired because they aren’t carbon copies, rather someone’s personality, style or character trait influenced a character and then that character took on a life of their own and became a unique individual. In many instances, characters are mash ups of multiple people I know and done in a way that allows for originality in the characters’ decisions and life choices.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • Honestly, the best way to avoid burn-out is to write every day. It sounds counter intuitive, but it’s actually surprisingly effective. I find when I take breaks from writing, or write infrequently, it actually becomes harder to write. It is less of a muscle and more of monumental effort that I have to find time for. But when I write daily, I find myself easily able to hop onto my computer, write a chapter and then head off to go do something else. The creative energies are constantly flowing, my subconscious continuously at work building out plots and sub pots and cool scenes and other things and I just have to sit down and get it into a doc to allow the creative process to continue. When I wait a long time to do that, my writing suffers and my progress slows. I also feel less fulfilled in everything else in my life and that tells me that writing is truly something that brings me joy. Something that influences every other aspect of my life. So for me, to avoid burn-out, I have to write daily.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I love audiobooks, it’s the primary method that I get through books today with two young boys and a full-time job in Tech. When I think about how I best digest information, lecturing and hearing information has always been most effective for me. So when I listen to audiobooks, I process it quickly and usually listen at a faster speed than normal. This allows me to get through books quickly in a life that would otherwise make it difficult for me to sit down and physically read a book.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • There is this section of the story that deals with this monumental battle. It’s this pivotal section toward the middle of the story that switches between characters fighting in starships in space orbiting this planet and then characters on the ground of the same planet fighting in frontline combat. Without giving anything away, the emotions that come out across the two conflicts are raw and showcase the creative power of Melissa in bringing the story to life through the eyes of characters in this conflict, both on the side of the protagonists and the side of the antagonists in this conflict.
  • What’s next for you?
    • I’m currently working on the third book in the Foundra series, additionally, I’m in the editing phase for a new fantasy novel that I’ll share more about in the coming months. I’m also hoping to start work on the audiobook to Pride of Ashna, the sequel to Foundra, toward the second half of 2022.

Emmanuel M. Arriaga is an imaginative award winning author with an engineering background working in the Technology sector. He is best known for the Foundra Series, a sci-fi space opera and National Indie Excellence Award (NIEA) Finalist. His rich worlds introduce diverse characters and expansive worldbuilding with innovative technologies and concepts. He is a bronze winner of the Readers’ Favorite Award for Best Young Adult Action Novel and a TopShelf Book Award Finalist.

Melissa Reizian has been a full-time voice actor for 20 years. She is an Audible-Approved Producer for audiobook narration and has accreditation from the World-Voices Organization.

Over the years, Melissa’s work has been featured by popular global brands, corporations and government agencies, including: Dr. Pepper, Sam’s Club, the Humane Society of the United States, The American Heart Association, Lytx (formerly Drivecam), Verizon, Motorola, 5/3 Bank, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

Previously, Melissa was an award-winning, Emmy-nominated television journalist. Most recently, she was a reporter/producer/anchor at WLEX-TV in Lexington, Kentucky, where in addition to daily reporting and anchoring duties, she produced the award-winning half-hour education TV show, “Rising Star.”

Melissa’s news reports from Armenia aired on CNN World Report during the early 1990s, where she reported on the blockade there and war in neighboring Nagorno-Karabagh. Melissa is a 2nd-generation Armenian-American, and was there to help train journalists in that country in the ways of “American style journalism” after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Melissa holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she minored in Theatre.

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Spotlight & Author Interview: No Song, But Silence + Giveaway

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No Song but Silence EBook

No Song, But Silence
Series: Wind Tide (#3)
by Jonathan Nevair
Published: November 18, 2021 by Shadow Spark Publishing
Genre: Space Opera, Science Fiction
Pages: 387

CW: death of parent (mentioned), death of sibling, graphic violence and death, blood, trauma, genocide, colonialism, terrorism, executions

POSSIBLE ULTIMATE TOUR EXPERIENCE TICKETS: Represent, Lost In Space, It’s All About The Journey, I’m Not Crying, You Are Crying

Book Blurb

The tide of justice ebbs. A mysterious and reclusive superpower threatens to extend its reach, colonizing new star systems for Wind energy and spreading a corrupt political empire. The People’s Army, once the hope for a new federation of allies in the Arm, has dwindled to a mere spectator in the fight for political control. Ailo’s role in its revolutionary fervor is over. The esoteric philosophy of the legendary Cin Quinti is her only concern now. But when an unimaginable threat sends a political shock wave through the Arm she must weigh the cost of self-preservation, hiding in the shadows as civilization falls to despotism and tyranny.

Light years away on Kol 2, a young librarian grows inspired by a mentor’s clandestine teachings. What he discovers with the newfound knowledge reveals a moral avalanche. The dubious and cruel political power corrupting his society must be exposed, but it will take a leap of faith to challenge an empire.

Amazon / Goodreads

Kol 2 planet

Author Interview:

1. Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?

The Wind Tide series started with a voice – Razor speaking first-person in the opening chapter of Goodbye to the Sun. From there, a world grew around that opening passage. I tend to be very visual and sensory based in creating content for my books. Most of the settings derive from mental images or feelings, often these come in the form of light, color, and sound. I’m all about mood. But I will say that the series overall tackles issues of morality, and that’s a concept and dilemma that runs through all three books – the struggle of family vs. state responsibility, one’s obligation to others in society, and struggling to consider the consequences of forms of justice that aren’t based on personal vengeance and retribution (and that includes broader ecologies as well as human relations).

2. What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?

That the last book in a trilogy is hard to write! You have many responsibilities to readers in that final book. You need a story that stands on its own but also connects to the previous novels, even if only through central themes or a few characters. Add to that the need to make it have a dramatic climax and resolution to not just the one book but all three books that work as a larger narrative. I didn’t realize just how many promises I’d made to readers in the first two books, and I learned that it’s very hard to weave a tight story fabric in that last book in a series.

3. What surprised you the most in writing it?

Characters that pop up while writing! Ferra came out of nowhere and ended up being a key player in the story. Sometimes while writing your fingers type a person onto the page and you are like, “oh hello, who are you?” I’ve learned to welcome those surprises and not fight them – it’s your subconscious sending you signals that someone needs to be there. Ferra needed to be there (don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t say more on that).

4. If it’s not a spoiler, what does the title mean?

Ahhh… I can’t say because it would spoil it! I can share this: it comes from a line in Antigone by Sophocles (which is the inspiration for Book I: Goodbye to the Sun).

5. Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?

Absolutely! (And no they don’t know) I’ll also never say who they are. Jati especially is based partly on someone who was a unique thinker and psychic life adventurer who didn’t adhere to limits or restrictions that many others do in our world. Since the series is based on Greek sources, many of the characters in all three books share aspects with people in the earlier texts but none are direct re-castings.

6. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?

Oh, absolutely. All three books do, in fact. Though again, I am hesitant to share them. They relate to themes about personal vs. state responsibility, a struggle with forms of justice that go beyond revenge, ecological ethics, and a need to respect differences and work toward collective futures by breaking out of longstanding intellectual binaries.

7. What is your favorite part of the book?

The end! It’s everything I wanted it to be and yet, it terrified me for the longest time not knowing what it would be and how it might turn out on the page. I’ve read it too many times with editing stages etc, but it still gets me every time (eyes watering thinking about it now…)

8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

Lazro, for sure. He goes through a series of transitions and transformations in this book, both ethically and culturally, and it was difficult to express in writing what he kept and what he lost in that process throughout the story. I had a difficult time with his personality because he is fairly reserved and even-tempered. It’s much more difficult for me to write a character like that than someone who is snarky, outspoken, or daring, etc.

9. What are your immediate future plans?

I’m writing a standalone space opera that will release next November 2022 (Shadow Spark Publishing). I’m pretty excited because it’s an opportunity to write a story in a new setting that will go from start to finish in a single novel. I’ve also got a short story dropping in the next few months and I’ll be appearing on a podcast in January about world building in space opera with other authors I greatly respect and admire so that should be super fun.

Author Info:

jonathan-nevairFrom the moment he saw Star Wars: Episode IV in the theater as a child, Jonathan’s eyes turned to the night sky and the capability of FTL drives to whisk him off to distant star systems. After two decades of academic publishing, he finally got up the nerve to write fiction and bring those worlds to life.

Jonathan lives in southeastern PA with his wife and rambunctious mountain feist, Cricket. When not writing and teaching, he spends his time chasing his dog through the woods and hoping he’ll be able to walk in space before he croaks.

Jonathan Nevair (he/him/his) is the pen name for Dr. Jonathan Wallis, Professor of Art History at Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia



Publisher Info

Starts: December 1st, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: December 8th, 2021 at 11:59pm EST

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Spotlight & Excerpt: Triumph’s Ashes + Giveaway

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Triumph's Ashes
Adam Gaffen has a new LGBTQ+ space opera out, The Cassidy Chronicles volume 5: Triumph’s Ashes And there’s a $100 giveaway!

Viva la revolucion!

The Primus, Vasilia Newling, is facing her worst nightmares:

  • A revolution on Luna.
  • Titan and the Asteroids abandoning the Solarian Union.
  • Defections from within her own government.

All because of those damned Cassidys!

But she’s still as ruthless as ever.

And if Aiyana and Kendra thought she was playing dirty before? They’re going to see how filthy she really can get.

There isn’t room for both the Terran Federation and the Union.

This time, one is going down.

For good.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Liminal Fiction | Smashwords


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Habitat Njord

“Commander? Aren’t you on your honeymoon?”

Commander Daniela Garcia-Kay stopped filling her coffee cup and to stare at the questioner.

“Ma’am,” she belatedly appended.

“Better, Rat,” Garcia-Kay said, finishing the pour. “And for your information, yes, I am, but I need to stay sharp.”

She added, in a much more conversational tone, “Boomer’s been after me as well. He says that he’s still trying to integrate with his new body and I should be flying him, so…”

Rat, Ensign (JG) Judith Bastin, grinned. The Epsilon-class AI’s installed in the Direwolf fighters could be nearly human in their personalities, if encouraged by their human counterparts. A good number of the pilots of Nymeria Squadron did so, reaping the benefits of the enhanced partnership, taking after the lead of their commander.

Daniela, as the first Direwolf pilot, had led the way. She’d investigated the interests the Admiral had in 20th/21stcentury ‘television’ and ‘movies’, eventually arriving at ‘Boomer’ as a good name for her AI. As a result, his personality tended to be cool, calculating, and confident, with a special knack for engineering his way around problems. His level-headedness complemented Daniela’s more aggressive flying style.

“I heard they salvaged your chair,” Rat said.

“They did,” agreed Daniela. “That was about all, though.”

Her face clouded briefly at the memory. Her prior Direwolf had been ruined by a mid-space collision with another fighter during an exercise in which the other pilot had lost her life. It was the first non-action casualty the squadron had faced and it still stung.

Rat picked up on her discomfort and tried to change the subject. “How’s Boomer doing? Does he like the new ship?”

“He appreciates the new capabilities, but keeps sending me messages about how things just aren’t quite ‘right’ with it. Which is why I’m here at oh six hundred instead of in bed with my husband,” she finished, raising her mug.

“Aye, ma’am,” said Rat, raising her half-empty mug in mock salute. “Do you need a wing? I’m scheduled for the mid-watch CAP, but I have a couple hours.”

“Thanks, Rat, I’m covered. Locksmith is going out with me.”

Rat nodded. Locksmith was the XO of the second Direwolf squadron under Lt. Commander Ashlyn Bontrager. Red Squadron was officially assigned to the TFS Endeavour, but only half the fighters could fit aboard at any one time for away missions if there would be a couple of the older Wolves attached for the duration. The other half remained at Njord and did drills until the Endeavour returned.

“Catch you later, Double Dip,” Rat said and strolled out.

She had to smile. For all that Starfleet was a military organization, the formality and rigidity which plagued longer-established militaries simply didn’t exist. Given the preferences of the Admiral, it probably never would.

Daniela spent the next few minutes with her thoughts before Locksmith arrived.

Lieutenant Lexie Marsh, recently promoted, was nearly a mirror image of Double Dip. She was just as tall and built in a similar, athletic manner. Her hair, which she wore in a single long braid, was dyed a pale green which set off her emerald eyes and dark skin. Her most prominent feature, though, was her smile. It was said in her division that as long as Locksmith was smiling you were doing well. If it flickered, though, you were in trouble. Nobody knew what would happen if it disappeared. Yet.

Today, it was in full force.

“Morning, Danni,” Locksmith said, already carrying her own mug.

“Morning Lexie,” Daniela answered around another sip. “Ready for today?”

“As soon as I finish my cacao.”

“You and Commander Cassidy,” Daniela chuckled. “What is it about that stuff?”

“I could ask you the same,” countered Locksmith. “Coffee, yuck.”

“Just for that I’m going to dust you,” Daniela said.

“Hello? We’re both flying the same bird?”

“Nope. I have the first of the Mark II’s.”

Instantly Locksmith was all business.

“I didn’t think they were going to be in production until next year! That’s why my girlfriend told me, and she should know; she works at HLC, testing.”

“She’s not wrong. But someone has to break them in before they start rolling them out, and since I have the most hours in Direwolves of any pilot in Starfleet, well, the decision was simple. Mine’s one of the two-seaters, too, a training model.”

“Is the scuttlebutt true?”

Daniela laughed. “I hope so! We’ll find out today anyways.”

Locksmith put down her mug, sloshing the contents onto the table, and stood. “What are we waiting for?”

Daniela took a final swallow and led the way to the bay. After they’d done the mandatory walkarounds and pre-flight checks they each climbed into their cockpits.

“About time,” grumped her AI as she settled in.

“It’s my honeymoon,” she grumped right back. “I’m permitted.”

“It’s all well and good for you, you can get out of the ship just by standing up. Me, it takes major mechanical surgery.”

“Sorry, Boomer. Admiral’s orders. I tried to delay the wedding but she wouldn’t allow it.”


She could tell he was somewhat mollified, though, as they ran through the power-up checklists. They’d developed enough of a rapport over the previous months that they could do the tasks almost on automatic while holding a conversation.

“How does she feel?” Daniela asked now.

“It’s different,” Boomer said. “The basic systems are all the same, except where they aren’t. It’s tough to explain.”

“Anything I need to be concerned about? Anything radically different?”

“No. Most of the changes they made are incremental, evolutionary. Like the aiming mechanism on the lasers.”

“We can aim?”

“A little. About two degrees, but it’s enough so we can do some pinpoint shooting at longer ranges.”


“If you ask me, though, I’m most impressed with the new reactor, if it works.”

“What do you mean, ‘if it works’?”

“It’s a new design. The old reactor was a laser-pumped design, while the new one is a z-pinch. If it works the way it should, we ought to achieve increased thrust as well as higher power for the other systems.”

“How much increased thrust?”

“Up to 650 g.”

Daniela allowed herself a low whistle. The Mark 1 already had the highest acceleration of any sublight craft in any fleet, 500 g, and a skilled pilot/AI combination could squeeze an extra 10 g or 20 g performance. 650 g, though, was unheard-of.

“What will I feel?” she asked. She knew she could tap her implant to get the information, but one of the reasons she and Boomer were such an effective team was she treated him as a partner. Currently, at max accel, she felt 6 g, which was eight times more than the Federation standard aboard vessels and habitats. Her nanobots prevented the lower gravity from weakening her bones and muscles, but she’d been in Starfleet since the beginning. Three-quarter g felt normal now, hence her concern.

“You’ll love this. Five g.”

Author Bio

Adam Gaffen
I was born in Maine, didn’t live there for long before my parents figured out that it was too bloody cold and moved south, all the way to Massachusetts. Grew up there and in Connecticut, lived in Maryland and Indiana for a while before moving back to Maine. Lived there for twenty years before I, too, decided the winters were too long. Of course, where do you to get away from long winters? COLORADO! Naturally. Married to a wonderful, inspirational, supportive woman; between us we have five kids, five dogs, and five cats.

As for my writing, well, I’ve thrown a bunch out onto Amazon. There’s a couple Sherlock Holmes stories, a few horror-ish shorts, and then you get to my longer books: Refuge, a time-traveling take on vampire stories, and The Cassidy Chronicles. Triumph’s Ashes is the fifth book in the series and completes the Artemis War story arc.

Like I said, thanks for dropping in! You can find me on, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and on my website month, I’ll be appearing on the Meet the Author Podcast/Vidcast on November 24th, so tune in and check it out! It’s an hour of Cassidyverse talk and it’s at Indie Book Source I love interacting with fans, but be warned: I often add my fans into my books!

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