Posted in Reading and Reviewing

A New Audiobook and Producer, Darla Middlebrook

The Discombobulated Decipherers is finally out in Audiobook form. What a perfect time for a winter mystery and lots of fun. I feel privileged to have had Darla Middlebrook narrate and produce my book. She is an excellent voice person and adds many surprises to the narration. Wait until you hear her singing voice. I thought it was only fitting to introduce you to Darla and for all of us to get to know a little about her. After reading her interview I know I want to become better friends. Thank you, Darla, for taking us into the story of Jezabelle and Brilliant and leave us wanting more.

Darla MIddlebrook

Who is Darla Middlebrook in real life behind the voice and the acting?

Darla is a 68 years “young” retiree who works on audiobook recording 3 or 4 days a week and does volunteer readings at the local hospital and some of the local nursing homes. When did you realize you wanted to enter the world of acting and voice work or was it something you always knew and began as a child?

Audiobooks, audiobook narration and voice acting, in general, were not things I had heard of when I was a child.  I began to be interested in doing this right after I retired in 2009.  I thought it would be easy because “it’s just reading, heck I can do that!” (quoting my uninformed, July 2009 self)

How do you choose the projects you accept?

Most of us have heard that you can’t judge a book by its cover.  Well, that’s usually the first thing that grabs my attention.  Then I read the author’s take on the book, read the audition clip and go from there.  If I don’t like one or the other of these, I don’t audition for the book.  I have occasionally, been asked to audition because an author likes my voice.

The Discombobulated Decipherers has many characters. Is it hard to switch voices and how do you decide what inflection to put into each character?

I, usually, skim the entire manuscript to get a “feel” for the characters.  Then I have them talk to each other (in my mind).  I decide right away which characters are “villains” and why they are “villains”.  I do this by indulging in my “bad habit” of reading the last couple of chapters first.  I always make recordings of each character when s/he first occurs in the story and when s/he has emotional moments.  This way I can refer back to the recording to refresh my memory of how I made the character sound. This has helped me to keep the characters consistent if I end up being asked to do a series.

You previously were a Speech Pathologist. How does that career work into your career as an actor and voice professional?

I have more insight into the care of my instrument (voice).  I know what muscles to use and have a decent ear for vocalization.  I am more aware (I believe) of what types of voice(s) can be used when I work because I do not want to pick something that is going to tire or damage my instrument in the long run.  I can refer back to speech errors/problems that I can imitate which actually work as characterizations for voices.  I have also worked with a  professional singing coach since 1975.  This has helped me to use a wide pitch range when building character voices.  Often, a ¼ to ½ tone change in pitch can make all the difference in a character’s voice.

Tell us a little bit about AIRS-LA and why you chose to be a part of that venue?

AIRS-LA has a website which explains their goals and vision much better than I can.  I became involved with them through my first voice-over acting coach, Vanessa Hart (deceased).  She advised me to do as much reading as possible to improve my skills.  After I started with AIRS-LA, I was approached at a conference by Joe Jurca (who is heavily involved with AIRS-LA).  He thanked me for my contribution and praised my reading skills (made me glow, I tell you).  So, I have continued on with them.  Originally, I read CAT FANCY (now called CATSTER) magazine.  Then I suggested that I read the Canadian version of Reader’s Digest.  So, now I read from two magazines. (Did you know that Reader’s Digest is different in each country in which it is published?  Stories are related to the particular country, so Canada’s version has stories that you may not see in the US, British, or Australian editions)

In the Discombobulated Decipherers, you use your beautiful singing voice to add to the story. Do you have other releases or music that you have produced?

No, I do not have any professional music releases.  I have, however, sung in several musicals, operas, and operettas with a couple of semi-professional theatre group in Regina, Saskatchewan.  Regina is the capital of the province and is just up the road about 45 minutes from Moose Jaw, where I live.

     Please tell us about some of your other projects. What was your favorite and what was the hardest one and why?

My favorite project is always the one on which I am, currently, working.  The hardest one I have worked on required that I pronounce several Aztec and Mayan words.  But, in some ways that particular project was easy.  It happened to be a story based on an actual archeological dig in South American.  One of the things that I often do is refer to YouTube for pronunciations.  Well, when I was working on this project, I Googled the “The red Queen dig”.  Up popped a 2-hour National Geographic special about that particular dig!  Words were pronounced and spelled out on the screen!!  All I had to do was listen to them, repeat after the speaker and voila, I sounded like a genius!!  ☺ ☺

What advice would you give to authors or those wanting to go into your profession?

My best advice to authors would be to “read your manuscript aloud to someone” so that you know whether or not it “flows”.  I think authors should do this even if they do not plan to have the book converted to audiobook format.  For those who want to go into Voice Over work, find a good, reputable coach.  DO NOT fall for any of the internet scams that tell you that you can become a voice-over actor in (pick a number) easy online quick lessons.  YOU CAN NOT!  I am lucky that I have had several very good coaches.  I met my coaches at valid Voice Over conferences, not online.  I have singing, acting and speech pathology background that has stood me in good stead, but even after doing this for 10 years, I still consider myself to be a newbie.

Is there anything you would like us to know about you that I haven’t asked?

I am (almost) a crazy cat lady.  Lots of cat-related clothing and knickknacks, but only one cat.  My cat can be a little monster at times and lets me know when (she feels) I have been in my studio for too long ☺

I always ask my guest for their favorite quote? What is yours?

This changes every day, but today’s quotes would be:  “No amount of evidence will ever persuade an idiot” – Mark Twain  OR  “Highly Illogical” – Mr. Spock (Star Trek)

Thank you Darla for taking the time to be here and answer my questions. Make sure you visit Darla’s site and links to see and hear her other work.

Darla’s Website:  https://www.darlasvoice.net/

Darlas’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/199095733771188/

Darla’s Voice Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/Darlas-Voice-246840192020028/

You can find the Discombobulated Decipherer’s Audiobook here along with the others from the series.

It is also available in print and e-book form from Amazon and also available at these ebook retailers.

Comment on this blog as I am giving away two free copies of the audiobook The Discombobulated Decipherers. Invite people over and let them sign up too. I can’t wait for your comments.

Posted in Book Reviews, Reading and Reviewing

Straight River by Chris Norbury

It was a treat to read Chris Norbury’s novel Straight River. It is a mystery that holds your attention as the plot unfolds throughout the book.

Matt Lanier comes home after his father is found dead in a farming accident. Things hadn’t been good with their relationship and Matt feels guilt that perhaps his father’s death could have prevented had he listened to the message from his father and returned his call.

It is easy as a reader to identify with Matt as he ponders the fate of his father and sorts out his feelings about being back home and getting reacquainted with old friends. Many of us find ourselves in the same situation. Mr. Norbury’s interpretation of his character put us into Matt’s head and lets us feel his emotions. Does his past interfere with the conspiracy theory he thinks surrounds his father’s death?

I can’t wait to read his next novel in the series titled Castle Danger. Straight River is well written and an exciting read. Chris Norbury is up there with the best of the best with his writing. He deserves accolades and recognition for his skillful plot twists. This is definitely five stars in my mind.

STRAIGHT RIVER

After his estranged father dies in a farming accident, professional musician Matt Lanier returns to his hometown of Straight River, Minnesota. While he’s settling the estate, an old friend and neighbor asks him for help. Her husband’s recent death was ruled a suicide. She insists it was not. Ownership of her farm hangs in the balance.

The local police are uncooperative, so Matt turns to his ex-wife and a young computer prodigy for assistance. As new information surfaces, Matt suspects the two deaths are connected to a violent conspiracy with national implications. His dilemma: Should he risk his life to protect his friend and hundreds of other farmers from ruin?

A1T-pMjGytL._US230_About the Author

Chris Norbury is the award-winning author of the suspense-thriller Castle Danger. His new novel, Straight River, is the prequel to Castle Danger and the first book of a planned trilogy. The stories feature Matt Lanier, a southern Minnesota farm-kid-turned-professional-musician whose middle-class world is turned upside down by a conspiracy of powerful, ambitious, violent men.

Chris grew up in the Twin Cities and earned a B.S. in Music Education at the University of Minnesota. His essays on wilderness canoeing have been published in the Boundary Waters Journal. A volunteer Big Brother since 2000, Chris donates a portion of all book sales to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Minnesota. During the golf season in Minnesota, he works on perfecting his golf game. It’s an impossible dream but also a good excuse to get out of the office. He lives in Owatonna, MN with his wife and golf clubs.

Chris is a member of both the Twin Cities and national chapters of Sisters in Crime. He also belongs to the Alliance of Independent Authors(ALLi), and Support for Indie Authors (SIA). Chris is an advocate of independent bookstores and actively promotes the websiteindiebound.org

Thank you Chris for letting me use the biography from your website and good luck on your future endeavors. you can find Chris at his at:

website Christ Norbury

Posted in Characters from my books, Marvelous Guests, Reading and Reviewing

Meet Mavis from the Fuchsia Cozy Mystery Series

Today I welcome Granny’s friend, Mavis, to the blog. Mavis lives across the street from Granny. She introduced herself in the first book, Granny Hooks A Crook. Let’s see what Mavis has to say.

Welcome Mavis.

Hi, it’s me, Mavis. If you are looking for my picture you are going to look for a long time, because I save this beautiful mug for my pretend reality series only. I live across the street from Granny. I am known for producing and starring in my pretend reality series. The name of my series changes depending on what reality I feel I am in at any given moment.

Granny and I go way back to when she first moved to Fuchsia. She used to be boring but once her kids were grown she changed. I don’t quite know how to describer her —maybe wacky and wild. Yes, that’s it, wacky and wild.

But enough about Granny. This is supposed to be about me. I lived alone in my neighborhood. I passed the time hanging from my ceiling by my window. I needed that attention. Or sunbathing on the roof of my house in my bikini. I don’t want to hear I am too old for that. Doing that caught the attention of my neighbor George.

I did have a sister. We weren’t close. She stole my chance at fame when we were younger. You can read all about that in Granny Pins A Pilferer. Granny has this fear of wrinkle farms, but when we did a stint together there I found it to be a great place to meet men.

Life was very quiet until I got pulled into Granny’s shenanigans. I never thought I would worry about my life being in danger.

Finally, I got the house of my dreams. Of course, it happened after Silas’ house, which is next to mine, blew up and damaged my home. That was a blessing in disguise because now my home looks like a giant television and I can act in front of the big screen. Do you suppose I might get an Oscar someday?

I don’t have any kids. Granny’s kids are like my own only they let me live my life the way I want. Or maybe I live my life the way Granny wants. I have to think about this. We have been in a lot of trouble lately.

As far as romance—do you see me raising my eyebrows and winking? You’ll have to follow me in the series to find out if I do or I don’t visit Red Hot Momma’s Boutique. I do like the Go Belly Up Casino. I hope it doesn’t go belly up.

It’s been nice meeting you. Ask me questions. I might or might not answer. Make sure to introduce me to your friends. I’ll try to corrupt them and they will thank you.

Toodles for now. I do have a secret to tell you. Or maybe I don’t. If I tell you it won’t be a secret.

You can find Mavis in the Fuchsia, Minnesota Series.

Posted in Reading and Reviewing, Releases

Deadly Flip by M. E. Bakos

I am an M. E. Bakos fan. I will let you in on a secret. I actually know her in the flesh, not just online. Having said that, those of you that know me and the books I review are aware of the fact I only review books I like. I can’t see any reason to give someone a bad review. If you are reading my reviews know that I give four and five stars and if I don’t like a book, you will never know I read it.

Amazon

Having got that out of the way Deadly Flip was a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading. This is the second book in the series. A hidden diary, a house flip, a quirky ex-husband, a hunky sheriff and main character who is a great amateur sleuth without becoming annoying, all come together in a mystery which weaves an interesting story with an ending which will surprise you. What more can you want? When a cozy mystery makes me feel that I want to settle in to the community and become a friend of the characters it is a winner with me, and this book does all of that and more. Definitely a Five Star mystery.

About the Author

I have published several short stories in national women’s magazines. My love of mysteries has led to writing cozies. My first mystery short story, “Carpe Diem or Murder at the Carp Fest” appeared in the Festival of Crime, a SINC Anthology. My second, “Perfect Storm. . . Perfect Murder” is in Dark Side of the Loon, also a SINC Anthology. 

     As an enthusiastic fan of home improvement shows, I have done numerous projects through the years. A fun fact: As an intern with a Minneapolis non-profit housing agency, I researched, wrote and edited a monthly home improvement newsletter. 

     I am a member of Twin Cities Sisters in Crime, the SINC Guppies Group, and an alumna of the University of Minnesota. DEADLY FLIP is my latest Home Renovator Mystery. FATAL FLIP is my first cozy mystery novel. Published by Cozy Cat Press.

     I am a lifelong resident of Minnesota and reside in Minneapolis with my husband Joe Sebesta, and our spoiled Morkie.

Deadly Flip

Flipping houses can be deadly!
Katelyn takes on a home renovation in Hiptown, Minnesota, that “has history . . . a murder” at BFF Myra’s urging. What was she thinking? Besides the young woman being killed by the home’s prior owner, she learns the girl didn’t get the justice she deserved. Because of a double jeopardy ruling, the killer got away with murder! 
Katelyn finds a hidden diary, foils an intruder, and discovers more secrets while delays and expenses escalate as she renovates the house. Could the victim’s restless spirit be haunting the house, making it the rehab from hell? Can she find peace and justice for the dead woman? To get the renovation back on track, Katelyn, Myra, ex-hubby Eddy (it’s complicated), and handyman Wayne hold a séance and bring in paranormal investigators. Will this finally rid the house of bad karma? 
To top it off, Eddy is acting just plain weird, and hunky Sheriff Don Williams is a puzzle. Nosy neighbor, Mrs. Gilman, and Boots, the rescue cat, add to the fun in the second Home Renovator Mystery.

Find Mary at:

Website

Facebook

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