Yet More Artistic Adventures in Audio–And Free Audiobooks!

Hello everyone!

Yes indeed, you may have noticed that I’m a bit obsessed with audio right now. Of course, anyone who knows me will not be surprised. I have a bit of an, um, obsessive personality. One of those greatest strengths/greatest weaknesses things.

Permanent Position Audiobook Image

Now seems like a good time to mention that the audiobook of Permanent Position is currently free on AppleBooks and Nook Audiobooks.

Suspense and Thriller Audiobooks for Review

Oh, and if you’d like to get into reviewing audiobooks, StoryOrigin is currently running a review code giveaway for suspense and thriller audiobooks.

So what’s so great about audiobooks? I have to admit that I have always had a love/hate relationship with being read to. When I was a small child, I enjoyed it tremendously (thanks, Mom & Dad!). Then I learned how to read myself, and immediately realized all the advantages of that. Ever since then, I’ve preferred to read to myself rather than to be read to. Reading text is faster and you, the reader, have more control over how you interact with it. Plus it allows things like side-by-side or back-and-forth comparison in a way that other media forms do not.

However, listening to someone else read, whether it’s an audiobook or they’re reading out loud to you “live,” is a great way to get a story or information while driving, doing chores, or working on handicrafts. It frees up your eyes and your hands, and also connects you back to the primal human experience of telling stories while sitting around working together.

Dead of Winter Thriller Audio Shorts

Want to experience more audiobooks? Check out the Dead of Winter Thriller Audio Shorts giveaway.

And there’s also the fact that you can gain new insight into a work by experiencing someone else’s interpretation of it. My doctoral advisor always used to tell us that the best way to understand a work was to see someone else’s interpretation of it, like in a stage or film adaptation. If you liked it, great; if not, you still gained new insight into the work. At the time I think I said something narky about that, and I definitely said something narky about the some of the adaptations of Checkhov plays he made us watch. Needless to say, I don’t appreciate having other people’s artistic visions imposed on me.

But, as is so often the case, I now, ten years later, see the wisdom in my advisor’s advice. I hate it when that happens! Actually, no. It’s a comforting reminder that we can grow and change and learn to appreciate more and more things as we do so.

And, to return to audiobooks and my insatiable need for artistic control, my own interpretation of my own work is of course of considerable interest, at least to me. We treasure crackling 30-second recordings of poets from the 1920s reciting their poems, and wish we could have anything like that of poets from the 1820s. But now that it’s (almost) the 2020s, anyone with a mic and a makeshift recording studio, or even just a smartphone, can record themselves reading their own work. Or anyone with a spare $3,000 lying around can get an actual professional to do it all for them. Which often seems like the more attractive option when you’re knee-deep in the recording and editing process.

Yeah, because it turns out that recording an audiobook is SUPER exhausting. Even  perfectly healthy, fit people describe it as physically debilitating. For me, since I struggle to speak, or even remain upright for long periods (for those of you just joining us, I have been seriously ill for a number of years from a combination of Lyme disease, toxic mold exposure, and who knows what else), it’s, like, a crazy-difficult thing that I can only do in short bursts. And let’s not even get into the editing…other than to say I’m doing good if I can do a ten-minute section of finished audio in an hour of editing work.

On the other hand, it’s an absolutely fascinating experience from the artistic standpoint, and I do like the thought that, if you’re listening to one of my audiobooks, you’re getting that immediate experience of me telling my story. It may not be as polished as if professionals are doing it, although I certainly did my best to polish it up–in the future I’ll have to share some of the cat-snoring clips I had to cut out–but it is in keeping with the overall aesthetic I’m attempting to cultivate in the series of authenticity and immediacy.

I could, and no doubt will, say a lot more about the experience of actually reading the words and my thoughts on spoken vs. written media, but this is already going on pretty long and, frankly, I’m exhausted, so I’ll save it for next time. In the meantime, happy listening!

Those links to get a free audio copy of Permanent Position again:

Apple Books

Nook Audiobooks

Oh, and if you’re in the US, Canada, or Australia and you’d like a review code for the audiobook of Summer Session, book 3 in the series, reply to this post or email me at sidstarkauthor@gmail.com and let me know!

And now for this week’s giveaways:

Ice Cold Vengeance

The holiday season got you feeling vengeful? Check out the Ice Cold Vengeance promo! Mysteries, thrillers, and suspense with a revenge plot or subplot.

Snowed In

On the other hand, if you’re starting to get into the season, check out the Snowed In giveaway.

Crime Filled Christmas

And you’ll absolutely want to visit the Crime Filled Christmas giveaway.

Foreign Exchange Cover Small

If you haven’t read Foreign Exchange, the prequel to the Doctor Rowena Halley series, you can get it and many other suspense stories for free in the Domestic Suspense giveaway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Adventures in Audio! And Thanks for a Great Launch

Hi Everyone!

Well, it’s a *very* blustery day here in North Carolina right now. I’m hoping this doesn’t derail my plans to do a little more recording today. Because yes, I’m going full throttle on this audiobook thing now.

But first, a huge thanks to everyone who helped with the launch of Summer Session, whether by sharing, downloading, or leaving a review. The launch was even more successful than I expected, putting me briefly in the #2 spot on the Amazon.com free store for Suspense. Will the next release hit #1? I guess we’ll find out…Meanwhile, if you got a free copy and feel moved to leave a review, it would be much appreciated! The universal Amazon link is here.

And I just uploaded the audiobook of Summer Session to Findaway Voices yesterday evening, so that should be coming soon. You may point out that I don’t yet have an audiobook of Campus Confidential, book 1 in the series. You would be right. What do you think I’m planning to work on once this post goes out?

You see, making audiobooks, it turns out, is rather a lot of work. First you have to record the dang things, which for me has included things like learning how to do a Middle Eastern accent in English for Permanent Position, book 2, and then learning a few phrases in actual Arabic for Summer Session. Apparently my Arabic has a heavy Russian accent, surprise, surprise. I also spent a while last week trying and failing to master a Jersey accent for Campus Confidential. This was particularly frustrating because I worked in Jersey for a year–hence the setting for the book–and did in fact pick up a bit of a Jersey accent from my students. I’m one of those people who picks up the speech patterns of those around them very strongly. But now, several years later, I’ve reverted back to my native Southern accent when I try to imitate regional speech.

And then, once you’ve done the recording, you have to edit them, which is even more time-consuming and requires all kinds of esoteric knowledge. For example, you have to learn how to read displays like this:

Spectral readout screenshot

And once you learn how to read it, you have to learn how to edit the dang thing

But since learning new things is one of life’s great joys, overall I’ve been having a lot of fun with this. It’s just been so…freaking…slow. But повторение–мать учения (repetition is the mother of learning), so after months of hard work, I *am* getting faster.

So stay tuned for more updates about my adventures, in audio, coming soon! In the meantime, if you want to pick up a free copy of my very first, and therefore still rather amateur, efforts at audiobook narration, you can do so in the Audio Shorts giveaway, going on now on BookFunnel:

Audio Shorts

Since audio is just getting going, this is a very select giveaway–but still very much worth checking out.

Looking for just some regular old e-books? Don’t worry, we’ve got those too!

Never Miss a Mystery

The Never Miss a Mystery giveaway has just started on My Book Cave

Vigilantes Kidnapping Murder

And the Vigilantes, Kidnapping, & Murder giveaway is still going strong on BookFunnel

 

 

Get “Summer Session” Free This Weekend!

Hi All!

It’s the official launch weekend of “Summer Session,” the third book in the Doctor Rowena Halley series! In celebration of this, I’m offering it free on Kindle for the next few days. And of course, if you’ve already gotten an ARC, reviews would be very much appreciated 🙂 The universal Amazon link is here.

Summer Session Cover Small

For those of you who haven’t read it yet, “Summer Session” is a shorter, lighter work than the other books in the series, with a strong dose of romance. It’s based in part on my experiences teaching at Indiana University’s Summer Language Workshop, and also on my experiences growing up in what Rowena calls the “alternative South,” where fundamentalist Christians and liberal hippies are all hanging out and homeschooling together.

I certainly hope you enjoy reading “Summer Session” as much as I enjoyed writing it! And now, without further ado, here’s this week’s selection of giveaways:

Foreign Exchange Cover Small

Want to find out how it all began? You can get “Foreign Exchange,” the series prequel novella, plus loads of other free books, in the Vigilantes, Kidnapping, and Murder book giveaway!

Campus Confidential Front Cover Final Small

And if you haven’t read  “Campus Confidential,” book one in the series, you can find it, plus dozens other suspense and mystery books, all free on KU, in the Fall Mystery & Suspense on KU book fair!

Love in the Strangest Places

The Love in the Strangest Places book giveaway, for non-romance books with a romantic subplot, is still going strong!

Spicy Fall Suspense Banner

Enjoying the crisp fall weather? Spice it up a little more with the Spicy Fall Suspense book giveaway!

Awesome Audio! Get a Free Review Copy of “Permanent Position”

Well, it’s finally autumn here. Of course, because of my mold/chemical sensitivity issues, being able to actually heat my house is turning into a bit of a challenge. Hopefully by the next time you hear from me, my house will be toasty warm, but at the moment I’m reminding myself that a bit of chill builds character.

But enough about that! I’ve got plenty of other, more exciting news.

First of all, a HUGE thanks to everyone to downloaded, shared, reviewed, or otherwise participated in the launch of the ebook of Permanent Position. It was a massive success, peaking at something like #32 in the overall free store on Amazon.com (not that I was obsessively checking or anything). So thanks once again! And, of course, if you feel moved to leave a review, it would be massively appreciated. The book’s universal Amazon link is here.

The next bit of exciting news is that the audiobook of Permanent Position is now available on all sellers EXCEPT, apparently, Amazon, which they say takes a month or more to happen. And in celebration of this foray into audio, I’m currently giving away links to free review copies. If you’d like one, reply to this post or send me an email at sidstarkauthor@gmail.com, and I’ll send you your very own personalized code to get a free copy of the book.

Permanent Position Audiobook Image

I had to do a crash course on Arabic and Persian accents as part of the recording of Permanent Position.

Oh, and speaking of audio, I’ve started posting podcast episodes of Summer Session. They’ll be up for a few weeks and then I’ll take them down when I release the audiobook version. In the meantime, you can start listening to it on SoundCloud, iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn.

Summer Session Audiobook Cover

I had to learn a tiny bit of Arabic to do the audio for Summer Session. Apparently my Arabic has a heavy Russian accent.

The official release for Summer Session will be coming soon, so stay tuned!

And here’s this week’s selection of giveaways

Spicy Fall Suspense Banner

Want to spice up your fall? Check out the Spicy Fall Suspense Giveaway!

Love in the Strangest Places

Want just a little bit of romance, but not too much? Check out the Love in the Strangest Places Giveaway!

International Women of Mystery

Have a Kindle that’s feeling empty and bereft? Go hit up the International Women of Mystery book event on Amazon!

Mystery & Suspense on KU

Looking to put your KU membership to good use? Come visit the Mystery & Suspense on KU book event!

 

“The Best American Mystery Stories 2019,” edited by Jonathan Lethem

Best American Mystery Stories 2019

“The Best American Mystery Stories 2019” is, as promised, full of excellent mystery stories. Although the word “mystery” in the title might be a little misleading. Many of the stories are not so much mysteries (although there are those as well) as they are suspense stories or thrillers. Strongly literary in their bent, they often hint at resolution rather than achieving it outright, and sometimes end at a most tantalizing moment. They span everything from the Civil War to a dystopian future of unnamed date, take place around the globe, and range in tone from Reed Johnson’s heartwarming story of a young girl trying to clear her father’s name, to Joyce Carol Oates’ chilling tale of a pedophilia victim who feels a special connection with her abuser.

What all the stories in this collection have in common is a keen eye and ear for pacing and plotting. All of them, whether the narrator is a vulnerable young girl or a hardened ex-con pulling off one more heist, will keep you turning the pages, desperate to find out what happens next. If you enjoy mystery, crime, or suspense, this collection offers a delicious sampler platter of different styles and subgenres. Recommended for all fans of mysteries and thrillers, as well as anyone wanting to get a taste of contemporary American fiction.

Buy it at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

It’s here! Get “Permanent Position” for free on Kindle!

Hi All!

Well, as you might guess from the superfluity of exclamation marks, Permanent Position has finally launched and is now live on Kindle.

Permanent Position Front Cover

Booklinker is playing up and refusing to give me my universal link, so here’s the UK link, here’s the Canadian link, and here’s the Australian link.

Audio version to be following soon. So far I haven’t committed to doing a paperback, because A) I don’t sell a lot of paperbacks, and B) I want to reduce the overall pollution/carbon load of my bookselling. Because of A, B is really just empty posturing, and if I get a wave of requests for the paperback, I will probably do a print-on-demand run (cheaper for the publisher and better for the environment–we hope).

Anyway, I’m thrilled that Permanent Position is finally out in the world. And already climbing the charts! A heartfelt thanks to those of you who have already left reviews on Goodreads and/or Amazon. And of course, I would LOVE it if you left a review on Amazon if you haven’t already done so (Amazon.com link here). I can’t tell you how much reviews, especially Amazon reviews, mean to authors on both a personal and commercial level, so I’ll just go with saying that each and every one is appreciated.

I could go on about the real-life inspirations for Permanent Position and how meaningful it is for me to finally see it out in the real world, but I’ve already covered that in previous blog posts, so I’ll just thank everyone for your help and support, wish you all a wonderful weekend, and sign off.

Those links for Permanent Position again:

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com.au

And, of course, this week’s selection of promos and giveaways!

Edge of Your Seat Thrillers

There’s still one more week left of the Edge of Your Seat Thrillers Giveaway!

Summer Session Cover Small

If you haven’t picked up a free ARC of “Summer Session,” the novella that follows immediately after Permanent Position, you can grab one in the Feel-Good Crime and Thrillers Giveaway.

International Women of Mystery

Check out the International Women of Mystery Amazon sales book event, for mystery/suspense novels featuring female protagonists! Dozens of titles, most free on Kindle Unlimited.

 

“A Parliament of Crows” by Alan M. Clark #SouthernGothic #HistoricalMystery

A Parliament of Crows

A Parliament of Crows

“A Parliament of Crows” is another installment in Alan M. Clark’s collection of “horror that happened” historical mystery/horror books. It tells the story, based on historical fact, of the three Mortlow sisters, who went on a killing spree that lasted decades.

The story could have been lurid, and there are certainly moments in the book that may cause more squeamish readers to want to turn away, but, as with the author’s books about the victims of Jack the Ripper, the focus is not on the gory details, but on the psychological development of the characters. As the tale of the sisters’ crimes unfolds over the decades, we get each sister’s perspective on what happened and why they felt like they had to do what they did. What emerges is a surprisingly sympathetic portrayal of a trio of women struggling to survive in the South during and after the Civil War, and how psychopathology can meet extreme circumstances to create tragedy for all concerned.

The story, while spanning decades and told from three viewpoint characters, is not long, and the writing style is clean and simple, allowing the tale itself to shine through. This makes a complex story a surprisingly easy read. There are several different mysteries interwoven throughout the narrative, all of which draw the reader along and culminate in the denouement of the final chapters, when the events of the Civil War that set the sisters down their path are revealed. “A Parliament of Crows” is probably not for every reader, as it is far from cozy and fluffy, but fans of Southern Gothic and historical mysteries will find a lot to enjoy in the vivid historical detail and excellent plotting.

My thanks to the author for providing a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

You can grab the book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.