Category Archives: Author Friends

Interview With PJ Ochlan

Author Spotlight with PJ Ochlan

PJ is the narrator for Ha’ven’s Song: Curizan Warrior Book 1

To listen to a sample click here: Ha’ven’s Song: Curizan Warrior Book 1

P.J. Ochlan is an Audie-nominated and multiple Earphones Award- winning narrator of over 200 audiobooks. His acting career spans more than 30 years and has also included Broadway, the NY Shakespeare Festival under Joseph Papp, critically acclaimed feature films and television series regular roles. Along the way he’s worked with countless icons including Jodie Foster, Clint Eastwood, Robin Williams, Al Pacino and Garry Marshall.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I’ve been an actor for over 30 years and that’s always included a fair amount of voiceover work. But even though I’d been interested in the idea of audiobook narration for a long time, I didn’t get into it until about 5 years ago. A lot of my work has always included character voices and accents, so a gig like narration where you get to play the entire cast seemed like a great fit. I was doing a Shakespeare production in L.A. and a castmate who was a narrator agreed it would be right up my alley, so she introduced me to a leading audiobook producer who came to see the show. I played multiple characters in the play, and at one point I spoke seven different languages in rapid fire – so that made an impression. I later auditioned for the producer, and now, 200+ audiobooks later, I guess you can say the rest is history 🙂 I’m often asked what audiobooks mean to me. I’ve had a lot of “big breaks” in my career that each could have easily become the one that changed everything, but nevertheless had me hitting the pavement afterward hustling for the next one. It wasn’t until audiobook narration that I got to be a working actor pretty much every day that I want to be. That means everything.

I love YA, fantasy/sci-fi, thrillers, and obviously romance 😉 But I’d say even more important than genre for me is perspective. I’m partial to first-person narratives or third-person with clear character POVs (as with Ha’ven’s Song). I use those opportunities to really connect with the characters and bring their personalities and emotional states to the narrative and not just the dialogue. That way, even a third-person narrative doesn’t feel like some separate entity that’s somehow detached from the story. As I’ve grown as a narrator, I’ve found this helps to create a much more immersive listening experience.

As with any acting job, I try to tap into who the characters are as people. While I specialize in character voices and accents, I look at those as technical flourishes that help to enhance a character, but shouldn’t dictate or define him/her. Even when I teach those skills I make clear that rooting characters in reality as actual human beings and not caricatures trumps what tricks we use to make them sound different. Of course this is easier said than done. It’s something I remind myself of constantly and try to improve with every book I narrate.

The professional standard has been what we call “two to one,” meaning it typically takes two hours to complete one “finished hour” of audio. So a 10-hour book takes about 20 hours in the booth to record. But that’s now considered fast as the industry has moved toward narrators self-directing and self-engineering (even for many of the top publishers). That also doesn’t include pre-production book prep or post-production such as proofing, editing and mastering, which can all add up to several more hours per finished hour. As for equipment, I have a professional recording booth in my home office along with software, a high-quality microphone and other hardware odds and ends.

I’m fortunate to have a lot of vocal endurance, which is key for this particular island on planet voiceover. I don’t have any vocal health rituals per se, but I think a life of on-the-job training in multiple acting disciplines has definitely helped. And it’s not just my voice, but my stomach I have to take care of too. I watch what and how much I eat so I don’t end up with constant annoying rumbles in the booth.

Ok, some factoids… I live with my author wife, our three rescue dogs and two cats up in the Santa Monica Mountains in L.A.; I used to be a sommelier and run a winery with vineyards in Napa and New Zealand; I speak five languages including Mandarin; I sit in a box all day getting paid to tell stories.

Be my friend at facebook.com/pjochlan, @pjochlan on the bird thing, and see my snazzy pix including the weekly #WellyWednesday shot of my dog Wellington on Instagram @pjochlan.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Interview With Cara Bristol

Author Spotlight with Cara Bristol

Cara Bristol writes wonderful cyborg sci-fi romances (amongst other books) and is one of my co-authors in the upcoming Pets in Space 2 anthology. Cara and I sat down for a chat about all things cyborgs and writing:
Q.  Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? What genre do you write?
A.  I’ve written in one form or another all my life, but being an author is my dream job. There isn’t anything in the whole world I would rather do. I had my first erotic romance published in 2009, and since then I’ve written/published twenty-seven books. I’ve been writing erotic science fiction romance for a while, but I got my start with spanking romance. Before I became an author, I worked in public relations and journalism. My husband and I live in Missouri, USA. When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading and traveling. My secret vice is watching reality TV shows. I’m a fan of Survivor and the Real Housewives.
Q.  What inspired you to write your first book?
A.  I’m a life-long romance reader, and I’ve always had an active imagination. I wrote my first erotic romance solely for personal amusement—I was playing, not intending to do anything with it, but when I finished it, I submitted it to a publisher, it was accepted, and the rest is history!
Q.  You’ve been writing about cyborgs. What inspired that?
A.  Eve Langlais’s “More Than Machines” series inspired me. I fell in love with her cyborgs and had to create my own. To me, cyborgs represent the perfect alpha hero: powerful, strong, muscular, smart, yet there is something vulnerable about them, too. My cyborgs belong to a covert paramilitary force called Cyber Operations — Cy-Ops for short. They fight against terrorism in the galaxy. The Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance series motto is: “Saving the girl and the galaxy one mission at a time.” Each book in the series is standalone. Four have been published; two more are planned.
Q.  Where/When do you do the most of your writing?
A.  I have my own office with a nice window that overlooks a wooded area. I often see squirrels, rabbits, and deer outside. I’m usually at the computer by 5:30 a.m., and I work until 4 p.m. (with breaks for exercise, showering & lunch). About half my time is devoted to writing, the other half to non-writing publishing tasks. When I’m working on a first draft, writing takes priority over everything else. I set daily word count goals and don’t quit until I reach it.
Q.  What do you think has been your biggest accomplishment?
A.  Hitting the USA Today Bestseller list was really cool, but in all honesty I feel like my biggest accomplishment is that I earn a living through writing. Many aspiring writers and published authors haven’t been able to break out of hobby mode. I feel very fortunate to earn my living doing what I love.
Q.  What series/book did you write that has the biggest following?
A.  Breeder, the first book of the Breeder science fiction romance series, had the greatest number of sales of any book I’ve ever written, but the Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance series about cyborgs is picking up steam. It may surpass Breeder!

Stranded with the Cyborg: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015NJUGT2

Q.  Describe your latest WIP.
A.  The working title of my WIP is “Married to the Cyborg,” and it is a spin-off from Stranded with the Cyborg, the first Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance. I’m writing it as a thank you gift for my newsletter subscribers. It will not be published anywhere, but will be given to subscribers for free. They’ll get to see what happened to the hero and heroine after their book ended. You don’t have to be familiar with the series to enjoy Married to the Cyborg, but if you have read the series, you’ll probably like seeing what the characters are up to now. Anyone who subscribes to my newsletter will be able to download it for free.

Q.  How can readers reach you?
A.  Readers can reach me at:
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Interview With Severine Wolfe

Author Spotlight with Severine Wolfe

Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? What genre do you write?
I have been seriously writing for the past two and a half years. I already have 5 books out there. I write Paranormal Romance and New Adult Urban Fantasy.

What inspired you to write your first book?
My sister, Lisa. We brainstormed a tale driving from Houston to El Paso one night when the speed limit was still 55 MPH on I-10. I’ve got the story half-written down and by God, one day I will dust it off and publish it.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Don’t laugh, but serious scientific papers on the cosmos and astrophysics. I know there will be some scientists out there grinding their teeth over this, but I read a paper on matter dispersal along the Cosmic Microwave Background and I think, what if a tesseract perfectly explains that? And then my brain thinks of a story to tell to illustrate that, and being a lover of romance, I work that angle in. I created heresy by suggesting that so-called “Dark Matter” was, in fact, magic.

Where/When do you do the most of your writing?
I do most of my writing heinously early in the day. I get my husband and sons off to work, and then I write in between answering e-mails and reading my newsfeeds. I work better multi-tasking. However, when I am involved in a scene in my book I ignore the world until it’s hammered out. It explains why the pizza delivery guy in our very small town can sleep drive to my house.

What do you think has been your biggest accomplishment?
I never did much with the field I studied in college. I come from a long line of people who get degrees and never use them. I would have to say that what I am most proud of is raising four children who people don’t hate to be around. My children are all grown now and I am so proud of them for all they have done. I’ve raised human beings other people don’t mind being around. In this day and age, that’s an accomplishment.

What series/book did you write that has the biggest following?
Definitely my Demonworld series. It has the most books.

Who has influenced your writing the most?
Jane Austen. Don’t laugh, even though I am. I love her character building and the illustration of how utterly reserved people were back at the beginning of the 19th Century. It was also the first non-modern English author I could read and understand. Also, Johanna Lindsay. She had a huge influence on my love or romance.

Do you have a favorite author?
Several in fact. Ayn Rand is my first and foremost. But that’s philosophy! I love everything you write along with Eve Langlais, Kat Richardson, and Jennifer Estep (absolutely nuts for her Elemental Assassin books).

Is there anything that you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Keeping the little things that readers notice straight. Before I write any book I create a character bible. When you write a series, that’s easy, you just basically add on to what you started out with. Keeping everyone hair/eye color straight, their quirks, idiosyncrasies, that is difficult. Think about your circle of best friends, and think about how you would describe them to a police sketch artist. It’s not easy.

Are the experiences of your characters based on any of your own or people that you know?
I think we all put things we observe and know about other people into our characters because it is what we know. I admit to being a bit of a Miss Marple (I really want to be Phryne Fisher but could never pull off her wardrobe). As a trained scientist I am a great observer. Much of my time in public is spent observing, then trying to come up with a story of why a person did a particular thing. The closes I can come to it is a video I once saw of a man coming upon two people and making up a story based on their actions at that moment. It was hilarious, but very apt for how my brain works.

Do you have any advice for other authors?
Write every single day. It doesn’t matter if it’s your magnum opus or a grocery list. I keep a blog just for those moments when I either need to vent, or get some words out so I can think clearly. I got that advice from Leonard Piekoff and it’s not steered me wrong yet. Enough of our professional work is slap dash, so why should this be any different, just write something.

Is there a particular niche or direction you would like to expand your writing portfolio into?
My husband would love it if I moved to Sci-Fi or Mech-Warriors, then he might actually read my books. I’m so new at this that it’s hard to think beyond the current story line or arc. I’ve written books and papers on gemstones and politics and philosophy, and now I am writing fiction. I am thinking of writing a book about my dogs, for children. That’s the only time I’ve seriously thought about “branching out”.

Describe your latest WIP
I am writing the 5th book in the Demonworld universe, while working as well on the second book in the Urban Paladin series. There are times, when you are writing and you get stuck as you see the story in its entirety and you have to stop because you’re not entirely sure how to get there. I took a break on Martin’s story and Arminius and Aliera knocked quietly on my mental office door and sat quietly outside until I had to write their story. So I’m working on that now while I figure our how to get Martin to point B.

How can readers reach you?
They can email me at sevwolfe@gmail.com, visit my website at www.sevwolfe.com and like my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SeverineWolfe/. I love to hear from my readers and try to answer all emails as best I can.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Interview With Rebecca Thomas

Author Spotlight
with Rebecca Thomas

Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? What genre do you write? Hello, I’m Rebecca Thomas and I’ve been writing for eight years, but more seriously and on more of a “schedule” during the last three years. I write in three sub-genres of romance. Contemporary, Historical, and Paranormal. I sub-genre hop quite a bit, but all my stories are considered romance.
Where/When do you do the most of your writing? Because I have a day job, I do most of my writing on the weekends. It takes brain power to write well and oftentimes after working at my job, I’m too tired to write when I get home. If I’m under a tight deadline I will get up early and write before work though.

What do you think has been your biggest accomplishment? Typing “The End” on my first manuscript was a huge accomplishment, but then I had many many rounds of revisions, then writing a query letter, then submitting the story to publishing houses. There are many little steps to writing, but finishing the first draft of a complete story is a pretty amazing feeling.

Is there anything that you find particularly challenging in your writing? Keeping the self-doubt out of my head is the most challenging aspect of writing for me. When I have a story idea in my head, it’s so exciting, but when I get down to the actual writing, the story oftentimes doesn’t seem near as good on paper as it was in my mind. It’s easy to let yourself believe that what you are writing is the worst piece of garbage ever, but it’s important to push forward, ignore the self-doubt, and finish the story, because so many times, the story I thought was terrible, isn’t at all.

Are the experiences of your characters based on any of your own or people that you know?  Yes, absolutely. In my Alaskan Hero series many of the experiences of the characters are my own. I live in Alaska, so my perspective is different from someone who has only visited. Hockey skating, gold-panning, flying, painting, welding, dog mushing, riding four-wheelers…I try to incorporate as many unique “setting” details into my stories as I possibly can.

Do you have any advice for other authors? Don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong!

How can readers reach you?
http://www.authorrebeccathomas.com
www.facebook.com/beccawriter
twitter.com/Rebecca_Thomas3
rebeccathomas3@live.com

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Interview With Susan Hayes

Author Spotlight – Susan Hayes

I was thrilled when Susan agreed to contribute to Magic New Mexico Kindle World and so we had a lot to chat about when we finally got to sit down together.

1. Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? What genre do you write?
I’ve been writing since I was old enough to realize that letters made words, and words put together could become stories. I’ve always loved to write, but I didn’t get serious about it until the death of my little brother. His passing made me realize that time is short, and if I wanted to chase my dreams, I should get moving. Since that day, I’ve written more than twenty-five books in a variety of genres including science fiction, paranormal, and contemporary.

2. What inspired you to write your first book? I had been writing freelance comedy articles for a couple of websites, including Cracked.com. I started wondering if I could switch from non-fiction/humor to writing novels and decided to give it a shot. Since I loved reading romances, writing one seemed a natural choice.

3. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I’ve discovered that inspiration is everywhere. A photo. A snippet of conversation overheard in a grocery store. A glimpse of an old couple walking together as I drive home from work. Life is full of stories.

4. Where/When do you do the most of your writing?
I write during my lunch hours at work, and most evenings you can find me in my office at home. I have to have music or a television show on for white noise, and my cat is usually a few feet away, supervising.

5. What do you think has been your biggest accomplishment?
Not giving up. My first book was rejected several times. So was my second book. Even after I was accepted by a publisher, there were hurdles to overcome and so much to learn. It was daunting, but I persevered and I’m glad I did. I love getting to do what I do every day.

Buy links: AmazonB&N | ARe

6. What series/book did you write that has the biggest following?
The 3013 Series is the one that has the largest readership. Those readers are fantastically supportive and enthusiastic. 3013 has three authors writing in the same, shared world and it’s a great adventure for all of us.

7. Is there anything that you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I’m a pantser. Which means I write by the seat of my pants and don’t know how the story is going to go until the characters and my muse get together and work their magic. Sometimes that works very well. Other times it means that the story can take a surprising turn and I have to go back and tweak the beginning to adapt to the new twist.

8. Are the experiences of your characters based on any of your own or people that you know?
I think every writer bases at least some of their writing on their own life and experiences. I know that I have included elements of my brother’s death and the impact that had on my family in a few stories. My Wilde Brothers series is about a set of brothers who are all connected to law enforcement. My father was a police officer, and I worked as a civilian support staffer at the same police department as him for ten years. Those experiences are absolutely woven into that series.

9. Is there a particular niche or direction you would like to expand your writing portfolio into?
Having written in a variety of genres, now, I have discovered that I have the most fun writing sci-fi and paranormal. They feed my inner geek. I’ll be focusing on those two genres in the future. (At least until my muse informs me differently.)

10. Describe your latest WIP.
I’m currently working on 3013: FURY, which will be out in May, 2016. It’s a sci-fi romance about Danor and Verak, two Krytos (a shifter alien race) brothers who have set their sets on Gina Falcone, a fiercely independent human woman who makes her living as a freighter pilot. To find their Happily Ever After, the three of them will have to overcome the re-appearance of old enemies, new threats, and the challenges of forging three separate lives together, forever.

How can readers reach you?
You can find out more about my books at my:
Website: http://www.susanhayes.ca
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanHayesAuthor
Facebook Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/389883471205646/
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedintumblrmail