FIVE YEARS! Vivatera’s Special Birthday

Fan art drawn in the original manuscript by my teenage neighbor. Thank you Beth!

As Bowie sang…

We’ve got five years, stuck on my eyes
We’ve got five years, what a surprise
We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
We’ve got five years, that’s all we’ve got

Five years ago my life as an author began. I was so bright eyed, so shiny, so fresh to the world of authoring. It was a wonderful day. Now I’m seasoned, confident, and a bearer of a few battle scars… but I would never change it for anything. This has been a great adventure with still new adventures ahead.

I didn’t know the person I was before I started writing. I thought I was whole as a young mom and a menial lab technician. Life was very simple and ordinary, but there was still this roaring imagination that needed to come out. It never quieted. I constantly looked at the world differently. And I would often disappear in a world that didn’t exist, all while I stood talking to other people. I was made for this, though I didn’t know it at the time, but it suits me.

Look at that SHIRT! What a babe! Thank you Julie for everything!

I had no idea what wonderful fans and fellow authors I would meet. You all have been the very best fans a gal could ask for. If you’d read through to the end of Everstar, you all know how much I love my fans. And because Vivatera started this wonderful journey, I am giving it away.

From May 9th thru May 13th, you can download Vivatera from Kindle for FREE! If you’ve read it, spread the word, gift it to others. I really want to spread the joy of writing and creating with everyone I can. Plus, Billy Blacksmith the Demonslayer, the first book I edited will also be free starting Thursday May 10th thru Sunday. This is very special, and something I never believed would happen, so you want to snatch it while you can. It’s absolute fun!

I’m also collaborating with my author friends in a giveaway. Enter the raffle for cool Vivatera gifts and a chance to win a One-Year Kindle Unlimited Subscription, for all you readers.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER RAFFLE

Portland… on a deadline. Yes, I thought I’d let you all know what a DEADLINE looks like. It ain’t pretty.

I love this job with all my heart. It’s so rewarding, and yet, sorta strange, to know people are reading something so personal you wrote. But then, if I do my job right, it becomes something personal to them as well. I’m taking them on a journey and giving them experiences. There is so much magic in that. I love being a magician. I believe imagination is so important. It gets us to believe in impossible things, to dream bigger than ourselves. If it wasn’t for the dreamers, those willing to experiment, where would we be? You were made to do impossible things… so… what are you waiting for?

Moments In Millennia – Now a Memoir

In January 2014, this little book came out. It wasn’t a thunderous crash or a lightning bolt, but just a little ripple to those involved, a gentle reception in the world of books.

As with anthologies, they introduce you to different authors and are a great way to celebrate the short stories that we love to write. Shorts don’t need to follow the rules novels do, and sometimes a writer just needs to get the creativity out. They can end without finishing, it’s not as structured. And they often are bursting with creativity, like a powerful buttermint, starting strong but over within a few minutes. They are also great ways to get publishing credits, and that means something within the world of publishing. Simply, SHORTS Rock!

Xchyler Publishing did a lot of these anthologies in the first years, building an author talent base as well as an audience. So many of my Xchyler friends went with getting short stories in anthologies in a way to get published. I however, did the opposite.

Xchyler contracted my fantasy series in November 2012. I was already an author in their library. A lot of their anthologies had to do with Steampunk, at that time I knew next to nothing about Steampunk. Even today, if you ask me, Steampunk is still out of my depth. Then they announced a fantasy anthology. Fantasy was something I could do. I don’t remember the theme of the anthology, but it sparked a thought, “Well, I have my Frankenstein story.”

Frankenstein story doesn’t sound very fantasy, but it’s not really Frankenstein, but about Re-animation.

So, several years ago I had a friend named Matt. This is someone I worked with and trained during my day job at the Blood Bank. Matt was always the kid trying to fit in, he wasn’t shy but had a hard time connecting with people, or people understanding him, but he clung to me because I was nice and helpful and liked Depeche Mode, which he was a huge fan. He had mild Tourettes, though he didn’t like people knowing. He never wanted to be treated differently. I grew fond of him because he reminded me of my younger brother. We supported each other, and he was sure I would be the next JK Rowling.

My rowdy youth with my friends at the Harry Potter 6 movie release. The best picture I have. Matt is on the left. I’m the short blonde with the glasses. (I love this picture.)

Matt also suffered from night seizures, something we all knew. One day he came in with a huge gash on his face and he said he fell off his bed during a seizure. A few weeks before he died, Matt came to me asking for help. His seizures were getting worse and he couldn’t remember processes at work. We worked together and I coached him through some things. I did worry at that time, but he said he was fine. Two weeks later he just didn’t show up for work. Matt was gone. It was shocking.

I had known Matt had an identical twin. He often talked about his glowing brother, who working in computers and was making a fat lot of money, and how he would compare his lonely life to his amazing sibling all the time. But I only knew Matt as a single individual. People who grew up knowing them, knew them as a set, but I didn’t. At Matt’s funeral mass I met his brother and I’ve never felt so out-of-body than at the meeting. It spooked me. I saw Matt in the casket, but there was his face shaking my hand. I can’t describe it. It was like my logical brain couldn’t make sense of it. I know Matt died, but why is he standing, staring at me? I glanced at his brother several times during the mass, dwelling on the hardship of losing that other half of you. The whole situation bothered me.

Maybe he’s not dead. Maybe that was him?

That’s what my brain kept telling me. It was just a little thought, but it led me down a pathway of thought that continued the whole time I was there. I came home and wrote a quick outline of what would become Hawkweed. I called it my Frankenstein story, since it involved reanimating tissue, more importantly, 3D printing of a already programmed brain. I got really excited about this.

My first paragraph:

Jaren stood looking at his face in the casket, all the features exactly the same, the sharp nose and angled jaw—the very same features inherited from his father. Like looking in a mirror, all except for a small brown spot near the right temple, but in every other respect, identical.

I outlined it so Jaren (the brother) and Melina (the girl in-between) had their own narrative in a frozen dystopian Russia.

I decided to give it a go for NaNoWriMo and see if I could write the whole thing during that month. I intended on it becoming a full novel, even a series. I knew how I wanted to do it, but as I wrote it just became increasingly harder to do. Not just the cold and hopelessness of their situation, but it was extremely emotional and draining, and frankly, joyless. It got too hard to write at that moment in time, not long after Matt’s death. I stopped and shelved it.

It was close to two years when the anthology was announced and I thought about dusting it off. Maybe a short story. I could do that. I really liked what I had done. I liked the characters, the imagery, the frozen world, I wanted to share it. I edited it and reshaped it into the story found in this book. I’ve called it my finest work.

Melina’s Room, Petersboro

Cold, colder than usual. The frost on the window cracked near the edges on the thick panes of glass. No use in looking out at the white blizzard anymore. No one should walk in the frigid winter at this time of night, not even the soldiers. Pointless. Yet, I continued to stare.

It had been six months. Six months of cold. Not just the continual winter that blankets the world—I made it cold, like suffocating ice. I made the world colder by my existence.

I scratched a name into the glass, a name I loved. Why torture myself again? But I couldn’t help it. I took my fingernail and slowly smoothed it away until only a small square of smooth blue glass shown underneath. The hurt came back. It always returned when it was frosty like this. The memories returned, but I pushed them back. My brain shouldn’t wander there. I knew better than to dwell on my previous life.

I titled the story Hawkweed after a little resilient flower, much like a dandelion. The hawkweed doesn’t know it’s not supposed to grow where it shouldn’t, it just grows because that’s what it needs to do… it needed to live. Life continues on despite what happens to us. It’s symbolic, and I liked it. The title came organically, just like a hawkweed would.

As with many anthologies, our time is up and the rights are being released back to me. I don’t know if this will be the end of Hawkweed, but several are looking forward to reading it as a full novel. Short stories don’t need endings, and this one leaves you wanting a conclusion. In order for me to write it I need to figure out some logistics and how to tell the narrative. Big decisions like that. But I don’t see it as an end, but as a beginning, a new chapter for this story of a thousand possibilities. So, I accept it back with open arms.

To my fellow authors in this collection, I walk arm in arm with you to the end of the stage and take our last bow.

Au due!

Book Review – Ready Player One

It’s been close to a year or so, that I first heard about Ready Player One. Ladies of Nerditude (shameless plug for these girls – Episode #25: Book Review #2) reviewed it on one of their podcasts. I didn’t listen to the whole episode at that time. They warned of SPOILERS, but I didn’t know anything about the book, so I listened on for a little before I thought I might enjoy it. (I’ve now listened to the whole thing. It’s fun. You should check it out.)

Then… I moved on, forgetting about it entirely until I saw a trailer for the movie. Okay, maybe I should look into this book again.

…but I’ve been rather busy with edits and writing and redoing my house, so I didn’t think I had time to read. BUT… I did have some Audible credits… and WHAT?? Wil Wheaton reads it??? I hit BUY before I really thought it through, and regret nothing.

….and this is another reason why authors should love me, because I don’t just like to listen, I like to read it. Reading is experiencing, using my eyes, so I started to listen, but then had to go buy the book too, so I could read it at night all snuggly in my bed. So, I basically bought the book twice! You’re welcome, Ernest.

This review is on BOTH!

Ready Player One is – one word – FUN! This book appealed to my nerdy soul. I had asked a few friends about reading it and I got mixed reviews. Some thought it was awesome, some couldn’t get into it. I now understand why. There is a very deep-rooted level of nerd that this book reaches, not only gamers or RETRO gamers, but those growing in the early experimental personal consoles and arcade venturing folk. This book hits so many pop culture references that I felt like I was transported back in time watching commercial after commercial. Toys in cereal, Family Ties, Holy Grail, Votron, Rush… every genre-defining 80’s reference was crammed into this book. I feel the author channeling Halliday’s nerd obsession. I can see how some of my gentler down-to-earth friends couldn’t get into it. It’s not for them… but, this book was definitely for me.

The eighties were my fundamental growth years, living in a small home with three older brothers. We didn’t have much, but we did have a ColecoVision.

I remember the year we got it. It was Christmas and we were all so excited. When we opened it, inside was a brick, not the game system at all. My dad returned the brick back to the store and exchanged it just to find another brick in the box. It took us DAYS to finally get our ColecoVision, but once we did, it was MAGIC! The only games we had were Donkey Kong, Venture, and Smurfs – but seriously, they were SO much fun. We grew in our collection and I get pretty good. (My sister STILL has most of our Coleco Vision games and we retro game sometimes. Any time my nephew starts talking smack about being better at video games than me, I pull out Q*Bert and make him play. Games without cheat codes, save spots, and online buddies to co-op.)

This was just the start. I grew up surrounded by games: Atari, Nintendo, Sega, Playstation… my favorites are still on the Dreamcast (Revolt) and PS2 (Timesplitters 2 is still SO MUCH FUN!) and I’m stupidly good at the Sega Genesis original Sonic and Sonic 2. (The world of Sonic has exploded beyond my gaming rations, but I’ve got those two down.)

My gaming has waned over the years, devoting time to book writing and kid rearing, but some of my best times and memories surround sitting at a console and playing with my family and friends.

So… when I first started listening the Wil read Ready Player One, I really had no idea how deep in my childhood it would reach.

Ready Player One is set in a virtual reality-based world placed in a bleak future. The best way to escape is through plugging into the OASIS. Wade Watts is written after my brother Nathan, the BEST video gamer there is, so you know. We would watch him for hours, and he’s still has amazing dexterity and can cream you easily at any game.

So, when I started reading this cyberpunk dystopia, the last thing I expected was a trip back in time. The entire book is jammed with references to every 80’s nerd pop culture reference there is.

When I was listening to it, usually in the car, I had a good time capturing back memories that I had completely forgotten about. This became a problem, since I would get lost in headspace and not pay attention. But, I got to a point where I didn’t want to miss anything, so that’s where I bought the book. I would revisit the chapters I had heard, bonding with the pages and the reading on. It probably took me longer because I reread a bunch. But I loved both ways.

Wil Wheaton does a great job at reading the book. He is perfectly cast. And any time Star Trek: NG was mentioned, I giggled, like all the rest of the listeners. AND nice job too, as the Vice President in 2045! I laughed out loud. The only thing that started to bug me were the ‘then’s. Wil would pause his reading and an excited upturn of the word ‘then’ would happen. It began to hear a ding of a bell every time he did this, like ‘incredulous’ did in the Twilight series. When I looked through the book, the ‘then’s weren’t as noticeable. I will say this… I was in the car when listening to Wil Wheaton recite all the early video game systems. When I heard “Coleco Vision” said with such reverence, I yelled and raised my fist in the air! I was being represented.

But as much as I loved listening, I enjoyed reading it more. The type and font is thoughtful and the graphics for the scoreboard are really fun. And that’s where my memories were made, late at night reading a book and pressing the pages with my tired fingers. It was still a time travel trip through life in the 1980’s. The way Cline described the typical 1980’s home, the gold carpet, the paneled walls to the vintage 80’s arcade with accompanying pizza joint, was spot on to my memories.

I’d like to think Cline did his homework, but I’m leaning more toward Cline knew his stuff. Like my brother, there are so many nerdy gamers that recognize what he’s talking about, and the fact that I caught a lot of the references tells me enough that Cline wanted to write a book that honored his upbringing and something he’d want to read himself. The writer in me forgave his rookie novel because of the sheer fun of it. But it was easy to read, and so much fun, I’ll probably let me teen read it, if not just for the history lesson it teaches.

I don’t know how the Ready Player One movie will compare, but I already know I will need to view them differently– Book AND Movie not Book V.S. Movie. I can see Spielberg’s draw to this, I see it fitting well with his E.T. , Close Encounters, and authentic 80’s cinematography. But, I doubt very much that he could capture the nerd nostalgia that you get from the book. I personally think that to take the words in the book and recreated it would be confusing to a third of the audience. I can see that being a factor in the screenplay. But what I think will be something to look forward to is just how visually stunning the virtual reality world of the OASIS has to be. I’m beyond excited to see that.

This book not only is a good trip down memory lane, but a good retrospective glance to all Millennials that have it tech-easy. Some days in my house we play 1989, and remind my kids how it was to live without instant download or Wikipedia. It’s also a comment on our current videogame culture and how social interaction has become more online than in person. Cline’s vision of the future is not so distant and that is terrifying. We really have an amazing world around us. Yes, Skyrim is also, amazing, I will admit that, but sometimes I just like to go outside, smell fresh air, feel wind, and lay on the real grass and just be.

I recommend Ready Player One to anyone who knows this deep culture and wants the 80’s flashback. For those who don’t understand what I’m talking about but want an 80’s culture fix without watching old John Hughes films, try Stranger Things.

Follow Ladies of Nerditude on Twitter at: @ladiesofnerditude

 

“Reading A Memory” Book Review – A Wrinkle In Time

Most people know of A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I’ve always listed it as one of my influences, a creative muse from my past that helped fill the reserve. I remember seeing a quick trailer for the movie last year and got really excited and told my girls we should see it. A few months ago my 10 year old was looking for something to read and I suggested A Wrinkle In Time, which had been hiding, tucked in a quiet, dusty corner in her bookcase.

She looked at it and then asked me what it was about. My answer, “Umm…. I don’t remember.” She wasn’t a fan of that answer. She wanted me to tell her everything, to convince her it was amazing. I tried to run some of the details in my mind, but really, had I forgotten everything about this book? “There is this girl, and her father goes missing and I think he was a scientist. I don’t remember where he is. I remember it starts with ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ which has made it into our social-culture….” Her body language told me enough that she was not interested. “Promise. It’s really good.” Oh boy. Losing Mom points here. “I could read it too.” She perked up at this idea.

I’m not a person how enjoys re-reading books (unless it’s Harry Potter and that’s actually categorized as Memorizing). Re-reading is hard for me, and it really doesn’t have to do with remembering the details, it’s all about disrupting the memories.

Trapped within these printed words, among the browning of each folded edge of paper, lies a memory. The memory has to do with how old I was when I read it or what was happening around me, sometimes foods I ate, the oily fingerprint visible on the pages… but also the feeling of experiencing it for the first time. How I like to relive a book is through recommending it to others, talking about it with friends, or writing a blog post :).

Memories can be trapped in everything. Remember the smell of baking bread? It’s your grandma’s bread. She passed away years ago, but when you follow her recipe, it smells like Grandma’s house, more personal to me, it’s my grandma’s caramel popcorn. But, it’s not like I don’t want to re-experience my memories of caramel popcorn, that’s easy. Books are much more involved, more complicated. And I don’t like touching those memories, because it was a journey and it took a long time to feel and experience and triumph. I feel like I lived through something and depending on the book, I may not have the strength to relive it again.

Re-reading A Wrinkle In Time was opening a memory, and I didn’t know it was there until I read the first page.

This was the scary cover I remember

Fifth grade. Ten years old.

I was attending my third school that year. My parents uprooted us from our simple, country living to the big city. I started my fifth grade actually in middle school, then went back to elementary in November when we moved. I felt like I had been demoted. My parents were building a house, so in February we moved yet again, to our new home. This was really hard. There wasn’t Facebook that could keep me involved with my old friends’ lives, it felt like I moved a million miles away and all my friends were gone forever. To start a new school was hard, as anyone who has moved can attest to, and back then I was shy and kept to myself, so shy I didn’t ask for a pencil when I needed it and would fail tests because I pretended I had one. I didn’t make friends easily, I mean, I never had to. I was awkward and came from a strange family that didn’t conform to the suburban lifestyle. My memories of the second school are all me being made fun of—how everyone thought I farted when I actually sneezed and cracked my lip open, being called ‘Star Underwear’ because I was growing too fast and my clothes no longer fit and boys saw my panties (which was mortifying and I went to wearing a sweatshirt around my waist), and living in the rented house the neighborhood kids thought was haunted. Yes. I was that kid. But I knew it was temporary, so I just kept quiet and stayed weird.

When we moved to our new house, everything changed, and not in the best way. Here was a different environment, this neighborhood was new and the kids were believe it! not as friendly. I came the last few months of elementary before moving to jr. high, already discouraged and friendless. And here, a carefree spirited country girl, didn’t fit in AT ALL. Because of all the moving, I missed my Maturation program and felt rather clueless with all the girlie issues happening around me, and I was too damn shy to ask about it. And my grades were all over the place. I drifted in imagination all the time and got in trouble for daydreaming and not paying attention. How could anyone keep track of a shy nobody transferring from place to place?

So there is the stage for you – a shy ten year old with poor reading comprehension and imagination as her only friend.

Mrs. Hickman, my tired older teacher, who did not really impact my life any beyond this, decided to read A Wrinkle In Time to the entire 5th grade. I wasn’t interested in listening, I tended to draw on my shoes during Reading Time. During the first chapter I learned about Meg Murry and how much of an outsider she was at school. This… THIS! is a very important fact. Meg was like me, in so many ways. This was when I started to pay attention.

This is the memory – the feeling – I felt when I heard A Wrinkle In Time for the first time. I was ten, and lost, and somehow found a compass. Meg was a girl, like me, and she had a starring role in a science fiction novel. I wasn’t interested in the Babysitter’s Club or Ramona the Brave, they lacked imagination. Instead of pretending to be Shea Ohmsford or Frodo Baggins, I could pretend to be Meg Murry. She’s the one that saved everything. It wasn’t her dad. The book also had wild imagination that I gravitated to. I wanted to tesseract other places and disappear from my life. I think everyone has felt that. These four points were what I really remembered, what helped root my imagination.

In my re-reading as an adult, I discovered some very interesting things. This book was very forward-thinking, something I didn’t think about when I was ten. L’Engle had a very hard time publishing it, because it was too grown-up for children. It’s science-driven and bazaar, and pushed imagination to different planets, realms, bridged time-travel, quantum theory, and ended in love being the power that can conquer any evil.

The book is all about diversity, about being different. Everything in Camazotz was about being the same, about not having new ideas, or feeling pain. This is why this book has such a strong purpose and has been around for so many years. Life is about experiencing, about making mistakes and about being an individual. I was different – I still AM different – and this book was one of my first lessons that it’s okay to be different.

Meg is slightly complain-y. She wasn’t when I was ten, but I think I was more complain-y then. I think that’s important to the character and for the reader to feel that, because it makes for such a powerful ending. As a writer, I understand character development and journey and I was okay with accepting the whinier Meg.

But the thing that is most surprising, a lot of what I write and what I read stems from this tender encounter. I search for creativity that blows my mind and this is certainly not like anything else. This book made a footprint on my creative path, an imprint in my brain that made me ache to find something equal, similar. I’ve been searching my whole life for powerful imagination that leaves footprints just like this did. I have found and worked on some gems that I cherish, and that has done this very thing.

A Wrinkle In Time is reading a memory. For the good and the bad of it, I am stronger, more creative, more energized, and more thoughtful in my writing because of this. It was good for me to be that shy, awkward girl, or I wouldn’t have identified with Meg. We might not have been friends.

Thank you Meg, for being my friend and teaching me how to Tesseract.

 

Narrator Spotlight – Meet Aly, the Voice Behind Vivatera

As Vivatera’s audiobook comes closer to release, I thought I would spotlight the very talented actress that took on this series with such enthusiasm.

First, let me tell you of the unusual circumstances that led Aly to my door.

We met on a hot summer day when I picked her up from the airport. She wore this completely out-of-my-normalcy steampunk-y bowler hat, that stood out immediately in the quiet, pretend-to-be-normal atmosphere… It was so charming. I liked her instantly. This is very much Aly, my fated twin sister from across the nation. She flew to Salt Lake City from Chicago to stay with my family and I, and attend Salt City Steamfest, a local Steampunk festival with our collective publisher. She is an author as well, so we knew each other cyberly, but not formally.

Within two hours of landing, Aly had climbed my tree, found my ukulele and serenaded us with Radiohead’s Creep, had a good conversation with my talking cat, and told me she wanted to see the UP House, from, yes, the Disney/Pixar flick “Up.”

It was serendipitous, one of those cosmic moments when you couldn’t believe someone so alike lived on the same planet. The friendship forged that weekend went on to alter both of our paths. Now, you could call her my ‘sister.’

I knew Aly was a voice actor, and she mentioned wanting to record my series, just a fleeting, playful idea maybe someday… but the timing was never right. She approached me this summer when an opportunity arose for her to record all three. Yes, of course I wanted her to, but I didn’t want a friendship to get ruined if it wasn’t right. So I approached this with a business mind, being very professional. I had her audition like I would have for anyone, both us knowing that if she wasn’t right for the series then I would hire someone else. I was blown away…. blown away. She was perfect for the job.

I know several of you have been waiting years for Vivatera to be on audio. I’m glad the wait is nearly over and so happy Aly could record all three.

So, meet the voice talent that brought the Vivatera series to life… Alyson Grauer!


When do you first want to be a voice actor?

What influenced you?

My dad loves audiobooks. I loved reading a lot as a kid, and I treasured the times when Mom or Dad would read to me at bedtime from a favorite story. As I got older, Dad got me into listening to professional audiobooks. I wore out several cassette tapes’ worth of Peter S. Beagle’s “The Last Unicorn” – I had the abridged version and the unabridged version! I loved the magic of hearing a voice carry you through the story in your mind’s eye. When I graduated college (I studied acting), I found out about a website called ACX – Audiobook Creation Exchange. I set myself up with a cheap mic and a determination to learn everything on the spot and that’s how I got my start.

I’ve always wanted to do voice over for cartoons or games, but I’ve yet to really get into that area of voice acting. It’s a wide spectrum of possibilities!

What is your favorite parts about recording a book?

What challenges do you face?

I love figuring out the characters’ voices. There’s so much that goes into it for me: how old are they? Where are they from? What is their odd personality quirk that comes through vocalization? Who do they remind me of in real life? It can be hard sometimes if there are a lot of characters to keep everything straight in my head – I keep a spreadsheet with notes and commentary to help me keep track. Sometimes I even have to record samples just to jog my memory of a certain type of voice.

Is it weird to hear your own voice?

I used to HATE the way my speaking voice sounded!!! In middle school and high school, despite my best efforts to ignore it, I had to record myself for various projects and absolutely despised it. I learned that it’s normal for people to hate the sound of their own voice – when we speak normally, we hear ourselves THROUGH our own skulls and various other body parts, so the resonance and the pitch are slightly different to us on the inside than it is to people on the outside of our bodies hearing us. It made me feel better to know that I wasn’t alone, but it took a long time for me to personally get over it for myself and learn to like my voice.

In college I took a dialects class and fell in love with that aspect of acting. Being able to mimic intonation, vowel changes, and rhythms was something that I took to very well, and through that I learned to like my voice.

And now, doing audiobooks, it’s not hard at all – I rarely hear ‘my’ voice on the recordings. There’s Narrator Me, and then there’s a million other characters. Rarely do I use my own natural voice.

What other endeavors do you have that prepared you for voice acting?

Like I said, I studied acting at Loyola University of Chicago and have performed in various shows, events, and venues since then. Listening closely to the voice patterns of people around me also helps – at work, while traveling, while watching TV. There are clues everywhere!

What was your favorite part about recording Candace’s series?

Candace has written a trilogy of magic, but for me some of the magic was nostalgia. It reminds me of some of the young adult fantasy books I read when I was younger, books that inspired me to imagine and create on my own. I love the nostalgia of some of the themes of these books: a hidden power, a journey to reunite severed pieces, learning how to be a person as well as a person with magic, taking control of destiny, etc.

As far as recording the characters goes… I gotta say, Katia is my girl. Her scenes with Landon are pretty fun to record. I also really liked creating very specific voices for Ferra and Micah, thinking I’d never have to do two ‘hard’ voices in a scene together, only to be proven wrong! If you could only see what my face and posture were doing when switching between those voices… It was very fun to do, though challenging.

When I first heard Micah and Ferra I couldn’t believe it. Aly sent me these two videos back in September to show how she was doing the voices. I found them adorable.

This one is Micah…

This one is about Ferra…


I had so much fun working with Aly on this project. Vivatera is set to release the first part of February. Conjectrix will soon follow in March, and Everstar early Spring.

I want to thank Aly for giving me some of her time. You can find the first book Vivatera on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon. Click here for my Amazon Author page to find my audio books.

And find out more about Alyson Grauer here:

Alyson Grauer is an author, actor, podcaster, and voice actor. Her first novel, “On The Isle of Sound And Wonder” came out in 2014, and she has produced short stories for various anthologies and roleplaying game books. She narrates audiobooks and produces a podcast called Warda, which she co-creates with her husband Drew. Warda is an original fantasy roleplaying game, with magic, intrigue, and class warfare between humans and fey living in a utopian art deco fantasy realm. For more information, check out welcometowarda.com. Originally from Milwaukee, she lived in Chicago for many years before transplanting to Florida, where she currently lives with Drew and their cat, Queen Felicia. For more, please visit dreamstobecome.com.