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Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday Feature: Derrick McClain

Welcome to Monday Feature with our first audiobook narrator, Derrick McClain! Please help me welcome our guest and read on for his interview, latest release, and giveaway.

C.S.: What do you narrate?
Derrick: Books. Mostly gay romance. Sometimes with werewolves.

C.S.: What genre do you most enjoy working in?
Derrick: I know it’s not a genre but rather a trope, but…I kinda have a thing for the whole “bodyguard who falls for their charge”. Examples I’ve done include Bender by M. Stratton, Dark Horse, White Knight by Josh Lanyon, and Light from the Dark by Mercy Celeste (coming soon!)

C.S.: Tell us about your acting space
Derrick: It’s a 3’x5’ closet. When I first started I recorded with a (relatively) cheap USB microphone into a worn-out laptop with free software in a sort of cubby hole of studio foam. Then – inspired in part by Greg Tremblay’s studio remodel – I completely reworked the closet making it a proper booth with sound isolation, absorption, and a professional microphone and software.

C.S.: What sort of work-related items do you keep at hand?
Derrick: Headphones. iPad for the script. Water. Chapstick. Chewing gum.

C.S.: What’s the weirdest item you keep nearby that’s not at all beneficial to voice acting?
Derrick: My space is fairly Spartan compared to some narrators. The only thing that’s not practical is my tiny mountain of used chewing gum. (Sigh…gross, I know. The gum helps to reduce mouth noise, but I don’t have a trashcan in the booth so it ends up getting collected in a pile until I can’t stand it and take it to the trash.)

C.S.: Do you have any ‘good luck’ charms?
Derrick: No. But now I want one. Any ideas?

C.S.: What’s easily the most distracting item in your acting space?
Derrick: My iPad. If I “forget” to put it on airplane mode it’s all too easy to fall down the rabbit hole of Facebook/email/Goodreads/etc.

C.S.: Do you have any bad habits when you work?
Derrick: Sometimes when I’m behind schedule and I keep flubbing the same sentence I’ll curl up in a ball on the floor of my booth, hyperventilating and on the brink of tears, convinced that I’m going to be dropped from the book and blacklisted by publishers and authors and never going to work again and my fiancĂ© will leave me and the house will be foreclosed on and I’ll be homeless and trying to turn tricks for a living but no one will want me because I’m gross and disgusting and a talentless fraud who has destroyed his life by thinking, “Hey, that sounds like fun, I could do that!”
It usually doesn’t last too long before I get back to it, but…yeah…that’s probably a bad habit.

C.S.: Do character voices come easily to you?
Derrick: Yes and no. If I focus on making a distinct and unique voice, it’s challenging and inconsistent. If I just focus on the character – their temperament, personality, attitude, background – it tends to flow quite naturally.
Except if there’s a major accent. I’m not Joel Leslie. It takes me at least a full day of research and mimicry for any given accent. At least.

C.S.: Do you have any warm-up exercises?
Derrick: Oh yeah. Stretching, face massage, weird noises, and some warm-up phrases. A couple favorites going back to my college forensics (speech and debate) days are, “A proper cup of coffee in a copper coffee pot” and “A big black bug bit a big black bear and the big black bear bled blood.”

C.S.: Do you have any ‘helpful’ pets?
Derrick: A five year old Jack Russell/American Fox Hound mix named Ajax and a three month old Golden Retriever/Husky mix named Hector. I appreciate that Hector is learning to communicate when he has to go out, but could he please learn to hold it for longer than 20 minutes at a time?! Also totally regret getting him squeaky toys.

C.S.: What do you do to de-stress or enjoy that’s unrelated to voice acting?
Derrick: Video games. Also drinking. And I usually go to at least one drag show a month.

C.S.: Question from the audience: Name one character you loved creating the voice of. Why?
Derrick: I love the voice for Nutter, from M. Stratton’s Bender (which happens to be both one of my first books and also one of my few non-m/m titles). Nutter is an absolute psycho murdering nutjob, but he’s also super intelligent. So I had to find a voice that properly conveyed him but wasn’t too over the top. He makes a return in the sequel Revenge, and I’m really hoping to give him voice in my new and improved set-up sometime in 2017.

Audio Release Date: January 20, 2017

Blurb: Ryan Keller has it all: a great supportive family, friends, and no limit to his self-confidence. Coming out of the closet was not as traumatic as he would have thought. Navigating through life isn't easy for any man, let alone a gay one. Rest assured that Ryan has it handled.
Brandon Ford comes from the wrong side of the tracks. With a dark past, he doesn't have much going for him, no money, no friends, definitely no charisma, and his family makes people on Jerry Springer look like total winners. Life can't be worse - until it becomes unbearable.
When Ryan helps Brandon out of a bad situation, chemistry sparks between them. Only Brandon has one problem: he's hiding in the closet with no way of finding his way out.
After years apart, Ryan runs into Brandon. This spells emotional turmoil for both Ryan and Brandon. Will years of resentment and bad feelings pull them apart or force them to work on their relationship so they can end up Tied Together?

Narrator Bio: After eight years of professional and competitive public speaking and (live) oral interpretation of literature, Derrick has turned his powerful voice to the world of audiobooks. 
While he enjoys reading, listening to, and narrating a wide variety of genres, he has a particular affinity and passion for romance novels of all types. 
Derrick records in a professional quality studio at his home in Tallahassee, FL, where he enjoys the quiet North Florida lifestyle along with his fiance and insanely hyper dogs. He has previously lived in rural Pennsylvania as well as Orange County California, and has extensively traveled the United States, becoming familiar with a wide range of American accents and sub-cultures.

Join Derrick's giveaway for a chance to win an audiobook copy of Tied Together!

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Monday Feature: Kim Fielding

C.S.: What do you write?
Kim: All the things. Seriously—stories I’ve published in the past few years have been fantasy, contemporary, paranormal, historical, sci fi, AU with a touch of BDSM, suspense, steampunk, and even sort of Western (but nobody rides a horse).

C.S.: Why do you enjoy these genres?
Kim: I get in moods. Sometimes I feel like immersing myself in 15th century Bosnia, and sometimes I’d rather write about a grad student in Iowa. I read in many genres too, so it makes sense that I write in many.

C.S.: Tell us about your writing space
Kim: I have a beautiful study—half of which is buried under my husband’s piles (I recently cleaned my piles up). I actually do most of my writing sitting at the kitchen table. I prefer not to isolate myself from my family. I also write quite a bit when I travel.

C.S.: What sort of work-related items do you keep at hand?
Kim: Three things are musts: my laptop, my phone, and a beverage. Oh, and my reading glasses, as I am becoming aged. This time of year, the beverage is usually espresso or tea. I may have my Kindle nearby, and pen and paper, and I really like my phone stand. My older daughter bakes, so I often have goodies close at hand, just in case I’m in danger of starvation while writing.

C.S.: What’s the weirdest item you keep nearby that’s not at all beneficial to writing?
Kim: Whatever items my family has deposited on the table nearby. At the moment? A little metal container full of Starbursts, a small kittens calendar, a paper bag containing tortilla chips, a Slytherin bookmark, and two Hot Topic receipts. And a fork.

C.S.: Do you have any ‘good luck’ charms?
Kim: Not exactly, but a good friend gave me a paper charm on which I could write the titles of my books. My custom has been to write a title on release day for each novel. But the charm has 16 pages, and my newest book is my 17th novel. I haven’t found a new place to record titles yet.

C.S.: What’s easily the most distracting item in your writing space?
Kim: Oh, no contest—the Internet. Oh wait, let me check my email and my Facebook feed!

C.S.: Do you have any bad habits when you write?
Kim: Aside from the Internet thing? Well, there are those baked goods I mentioned. And sometimes far too much caffeine.

C.S.: What time of day are you most creative?
Kim: Late evening, when there are fewer distractions in the house and I feel like I can settle in. I sometimes write until my eyes are too blurry to see the screen properly.

C.S.: Do you have any ‘helpful’ pets?
Kim: We recently adopted a cat, Elena Katgan. She’s 8 years old so she’s pretty mellow. But sometimes she hops on the chair next to me and taps my arm until I pet her. She’s also terrifically helpful when I’m trying to clean or fold laundry.

C.S.: What do you do to de-stress or enjoy that’s unrelated to writing?
Kim: I try to walk every day, usually while listening to an audiobook. That’s great for destressing and just giving me some downtime. I also love to travel, and I manage a trip for work or pleasure every month or so. Although that’s not unrelated to writing, because I often find settings and material for my books.

C.S.: Do you eat or snack while writing?
Kim: Sadly, yes. Did I mention that my daughter likes to bake?

C.S.: Listen to music? If so, does the soundtrack change with projects?
Kim: I do sometimes listen to music, especially if I’m writing in an empty house during the day. My playlist is eclectic, and is sometimes affected by the WIP. For example, I listened to a lot of Johnny Cash while writing Rattlesnake.

C.S.: Question from the audience: What project are you most excited for this year?
Kim: I’m always most excited about the one in progress! Right now I’m getting ready to submit my 19th novel (#18 is already set for publication in 2018). This new one is a noir private eye story in a medieval fantasy setting, complete with river wraiths, necromancers, and a talking head. And instead of a femme fatale, we have an homme fatal.

Release Date: January 13, 2017

Blurb: Small but mighty—that could be Detective Nevin Ng’s motto. Now a dedicated member of the Portland Police Bureau, he didn’t let a tough start in life stop him from protecting those in need. He doesn’t take crap from anyone, and he doesn’t do relationships. Until he responds to the severe beating of a senior citizen and meets the victim’s wealthy, bow-tied landlord.

Property manager and developer Colin Westwood grew up with all the things Nevin never had, like plenty of money and a supportive, loving family. Too supportive, perhaps, since his childhood illness has left his parents unwilling to admit he’s a strong, grown man. Colin does do relationships, but they never work out. Now he’s thinking maybe he won’t just go with the flow. Maybe it’s time to try something more exciting. But being a witness to a terrible crime—or two—was more than he bargained for.

Despite their differences, Colin and Nevin discover that the sparks fly when they’re together. But sparks are short-lived, dampened by the advent of brutal crimes, and Colin and Nevin have seemingly little in common. The question is whether they have the heart to build something lasting.

Note: Second book in the Love Can’t series, but can be read as a standalone.

Author Bio: Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.

Join Kim's giveaway for a chance to win an audiobook of The Downs!

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Be sure to leave your questions or comments for Kim! Thank you for supporting indie authors.