MCBRIDE'S MAYHEM




Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Not if I'm lucky #MFRWHooks

Dangerous Heat (Men of Fire Trilogy Book 1)
by Sloan McBride 

The onset of fire season should be the hottest thing about interviewing smokejumpers for Whitney Storm—until she sees Tom MacKenzie. The firefighter set her heart aflame ten years ago, then disappeared. As an emapth who doesn’t need emotional turmoil, this six-foot tall dark and dangerous memory has no place in her life.

As a smokejumper, Tom’s job keeps him face to face with danger and he thought he knew how to handle heat. But the uncontrolled burn whenever he’s near Whitney is hotter than he remembers. He’s ready to face the past and make amends. She’s made it clear she wants nothing to do with him.

A life-threatening problem flares when a killer’s greedy obsession threatens everything. Can Tom and Whitney learn to trust each other again and protect all that they hold dear, or will their world turn to ashes around them?

~A page turning, couldn't put it down paranormal romantic suspense by author Sloan McBride~
~Ten years ago, Whitney Storm said yes to Tom MacKenzie in more ways than one.~ 




Excerpt 

Chauvinist.
“After all, there is an election coming up, and I’ll want to make sure you cast a friendly vote for the mayor.”
She shifted slightly. “Speaking of which, I called to make an appointment with the mayor, and his office never got back to me.”
“I can’t understand why they’d be avoiding an interview. I’ll make it happen for you.”
Whitney glanced at his sharp profile in the twilight. His straight nose, square jaw, and short brown hair looked sinister in contrast to those same features in daylight.
“I’ll want to see the list of questions you intend to ask.”
“So you can prepare the appropriate responses.”
“It’s customary practice to review questions prior to an interview.”
She sighed. “Fine. Where do you want them sent?”
Dylan pulled out a business card. “You can email them to my office.”
Whitney took the card, doing her best not to touch the man, and put it in her daybook.
A couple of miles later they passed the welcome sign and pulled onto Oak Valley’s main street. Townsfolk were gathering in the square around a bonfire to start off the Elk Run Festival. The locals used the annual event to bid farewell to summer and greet the early fall. Heavenly smells of barbeque chicken, grilled corn on the cob, and hot apple cobbler floated through the open window, making her empty stomach growl. She could use a beer too. First, she needed to call her mom and let her know of the unfortunate mishaps. The Storm family internal communication network began transmitting the minute the tire blew and she crashed into the ditch. Her mother, the commander and chief of the family empaths, would be expecting a report.
Gotta love genetics.
Not being able to reach Whitney by phone would have sent her mother into worry mode. The trip had taken much longer than originally planned. She hated having to tell her son the horse he’d set his heart on had gone to a higher bidder. “Drop me here, please.”
“Sure.” Dylan stopped the car. “I can take you to your house though.”
“That’s okay.” She didn’t want him anywhere near her house. She unbuckled her seat belt and threw open the door.
“How about a dinner meeting with me and the mayor? We can discuss the upcoming election, maybe a few personal tidbits. It would be an exclusive.”
“That’s very generous.” To her knowledge, the mayor hadn’t been giving anyone exclusive anything. “I’ll speak with my editor about it.”
“I hope we’ll see each other again soon, Whitney.”
Not if I’m lucky.
“I look forward to receiving those questions.”
She watched Dylan leave, then headed toward the center of activity. Since her brother, Adam, owned a bar, he always had a booth at the festival. Family would inevitably be there.
Her eldest brother had no knack for humor or tact. “Whitney, you look like shit. Where the hell have you been?” Adam scolded when she strolled up to his booth.
“Don’t start,” she snapped. 


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

“I do, you know,” #MFRWhooks


Dangerous Heat by Sloan McBride 

Available in Audiobook, eBook, and Print


Blurb: 

The onset of fire season should be the hottest thing about interviewing smokejumpers for Whitney Storm—until she sees Tom MacKenzie. The firefighter set her heart aflame ten years ago, then disappeared. As an emapth who doesn’t need emotional turmoil, this six-foot tall dark and dangerous memory has no place in her life.

As a smokejumper, Tom’s job keeps him face to face with danger and he thought he knew how to handle heat. But the uncontrolled burn whenever he’s near Whitney is hotter than he remembers. He’s ready to face the past and make amends. She’s made it clear she wants nothing to do with him.

A life-threatening problem flares when a killer’s greedy obsession threatens everything. Can Tom and Whitney learn to trust each other again and protect all that they hold dear, or will their world turn to ashes around them?

Excerpt: 

Scanning the room, she took comfort in familiar things until her gaze rested on the old trunk beneath the window. The trunk held treasures and memories. She walked over, flipped the latch, and lifted the lid, knowing that it would do no good to dredge up the past, but not being able to stop. Hinges creaked, and dust flew into the air, making her sneeze. Whitney retrieved a small rectangular wooden box. The night of her college graduation came to life.
Twilight fast approached. Crickets chirped, and the sound of ripples in the water said fish were jumping to greet the moonlight. He gently tugged and guided her through the woods at Waldo Lake, until they came to a small clearing. He wasted no time scalding her with a kiss.
He presented her with a neatly wrapped box. “You did it.”
The purple bow set off the lavender color of the paper, and she could tell he’d taken his time wrapping it. She carefully removed the puffy bow, in her favorite color, and painstakingly sliced each piece of tape with her fingernail, savoring every second.
When the paper fell away, her breath caught. With great care, she moved her hand lovingly across the smooth texture of the wooden box. It must have taken him hours of shaping and sanding to create the exquisite piece she held. Initials were carved into the lid: TM and WS with a small heart in between. Tears trickled down her cheeks.
“I do, you know,” he whispered and captured her lips again.
Photographs fell from the open box and floated to the floor. The melancholy memories brought a reluctant smile to Whitney’s face.
A small folded piece of yellowed paper lay against the blue velvet, taunting her. She couldn’t bear to read it again, but she didn’t have to. She knew exactly how many words were there and knew them all by heart.

My darling Whitney, when you read this note I’ll be gone. I don’t have to tell you things haven’t been right since the fire. I’m messed up, which is not good for either of us. It would be unfair to tie you down when you’re at the beginning of a promising life. You deserve better than that. I will always love you. 


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Wild fire #MFRWhooks

The onset of fire season should be the hottest thing about interviewing smokejumpers for Whitney Storm—until she sees Tom MacKenzie. The firefighter set her heart aflame ten years ago, then disappeared. As an emapth who doesn’t need emotional turmoil, this six-foot tall dark and dangerous memory has no place in her life.

As a smokejumper, Tom’s job keeps him face to face with danger and he thought he knew how to handle heat. But the uncontrolled burn whenever he’s near Whitney is hotter than he remembers. He’s ready to face the past and make amends. She’s made it clear she wants nothing to do with him.

A life-threatening problem flares when a killer’s greedy obsession threatens everything. Can Tom and Whitney learn to trust each other again and protect all that they hold dear, or will their world turn to ashes around them?




~A page turning, couldn't put it down paranormal romantic suspense by author Sloan McBride~

~Ten years ago, Whitney Storm said yes to Tom MacKenzie in more ways than one.~ 



Excerpt 


The reporter’s laughter floated around Wolf as he approached, caressing him like a heat wave from a wild fire.
“Lookout, can I interrupt?” Kevin asked.
“Sure.”
The woman spun around with a smile, but it faded as soon as she saw him.
“Ms. Storm, I’d like you to meet Thomas Wolf MacKenzie.”
“Hello, Tom,” she said with cool detachment.
Tom gulped air that seemed to have evacuated his lungs from an invisible punch to his chest. “Whitney?”
“You two know each other?”
Whitney turned her full attention to Kevin, but not before Tom saw the flare of surprise then anger in those electric blue eyes. She kept her tone matter of fact. “We met a long time ago, Kevin.”
“Whitney, honey.”
“Don’t.” She averted her frosty eyes and clenched the notepad she carried in front of her like a shield.
“We’ll let you two get reacquainted.” Kevin grabbed Jones and ushered him toward the door.
“Ten years feels like a lifetime,” she whispered with her back turned and her spine rigid.
Tom cringed. Her words stung with unmistakable bitterness. He had thought of her a million times, even picked up the phone and dialed her number, but never got past the first ring. And now, here she stood as radiant and beautiful as he remembered in his blazing wet dreams. “What are you doing here?”
“Believe me. It has nothing to do with you.” The venom spilled from her lips.
“I didn’t—”
She turned to face him. In a glacial tone, she said, “I’ll make this simple. Because I am a professional, I will conduct myself as such. I’ll talk to the others, take my notes, and be gone by Friday. You,” she shot him a lethal glare, “stay out of my way.”
“Whitney, I—” He reached out, but she stepped past him and exited the hangar.
In the empty barracks, Whitney threw her notebook against the wall and crashed onto the small cot, curling into a ball and grabbing her knees to still the convulsive shakes. Tears broke the plane of her bottom lid and trickled down her cheeks as her teeth bit her lip to hold back the sobs. How could he be here? She’d convinced herself he’d gone to Tibet to live with monks or the Alps to work with rescue teams, to get as far away from her as he could. How ironic that he ended up living only a few hours away.
Wolf suited him, the journalist in her registered, even as she reeled from the shock of seeing him again. Waves of hair fell around his ears. Those green eyes held the same fiery spark, and she didn’t remember ever seeing his body in such fine shape. The gray t-shirt he wore clung to broad shoulders, thick biceps, and a hard slab of abdominals. He’d matured.
Tom’s persistent determination had planted him in her life twelve years ago. His fierce love for his family softened the rough edges. She’d been lost the moment she looked in his eyes.
The tone of his voice still made her quiver. “Damn him.” 


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

“I’m not crazy.” #MFRWhooks

The Fury: Time Walkers, Book 1 


Audible Audiobook 



Reese dreams of falling for a man who shares her love of archeology and ancient civilizations. But being attacked by a horde of demons and rescued by a Sumerian God-a well-armed, gorgeous Sumerian God-opens up a whole new world she never knew existed. And awakens a mysterious power within her that attracts all kinds of supernatural attention.




Excerpt 


“Drive out of the city. We’ll find a cheap motel to stay for the night.”
“I’ll go out of the city, but only so far as my house,” she countered.
Dagan gave her a penetrating stare. “You’ll do as I say.”
She growled. “I could go to the police station so they can arrest your ass for kidnapping.”
He couldn’t help but laugh. She had a feisty streak. And, for some reason, she had been able to subvert the spell. This warranted some serious investigation.
“You think this is funny?” She frowned. “You fly out of nowhere, knocking me down and bruising my…” He glanced over at her. “Never mind.” She sighed. “I only have your word that those people were actually after me.”
She had a point.
Dagan took a minute to study her before saying, “They shot the melari dart at you before I appeared.”
The truth of his words registered on her face as she absorbed what he’d said.
“I’m an archeologist. I don’t know anything important or top secret. My job actually bores most people, unless they love digging around in dirt to find pieces of ancient civilizations. Why would I be in danger?”
“It’s not what you know but who you are that puts you in jeopardy.”
“You make no sense.”
He gently trailed his fingertips down the sleeve of her coat. He used his mental powers of persuasion to calm her nerves and minimize her fear.
“I can’t be sure those demons are not following us. They may already know where you live and could be waiting.” He felt her fear escalating again, and a glimpse of her disappointment had him saying, “I’ll give you ten minutes at your place to grab some things.” Maybe having some of her personal belongings would make this ordeal a little easier, if that were possible. “Then we’ll find a motel. Once I’m sure you’re safe, I will answer your questions.”
Reese frowned, her brows dipping between her eyes. Waves of uncertainty coming off her battered him.
“Did you say demons just then? Demons, like in horror movies?”
“Not exactly like the movies, but demons they are.”
“Have you visited a psychiatrist lately? I know a good one. I can give you her card,” she offered dryly.
“I’m not crazy.”
She gave him a yeah-right look, but said nothing more.
It grew darker as the Denver city lights disappeared behind them. They drove in silence the rest of the way but still her confusion tangled with his resolve.
After Reese pulled into her driveway, he stopped her from getting out.
“Wait.” He scanned the darkened area. The snowfall had stopped. He detected no sign of the galla. “Your nearest neighbor is one point seven miles away?”
“How could you know that?”
He released her arm and got out of the car. Moving immediately to her side, he used his body as a shield to protect her. Once inside the house, he ordered her to stay put.
“But…” 


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

"She fled the only home she'd ever known" #MFRWhooks


'Tis just as well," he spat. "She'd long since lost her value to me."

From that day forth, Rhianna had done all she could to oppose the chief, using any means necessary. Her greatest pleasure would be the downfall of Conar MacKay.

Stepping onto the scorched stones of the hearth, she shoved aside the heavy tapestry behind which lay a hidden alcove. It held the secret of the clan. She crossed herself. "Please, Holy Father, give me strength." The prayer did little to ease the lump in her chest or the ball of anxiety in her stomach.

Slinging the edge of her breacan back, she reached into the small opening, grabbed the treasure, and uncovered it. Concealed in the silvery velvet cloth was a smooth ivory-colored stone with veins of jade snaking through it. The magical heirloom had belonged to the MacKays since the beginning of time and had brought good fortune to the clan. She'd seen it only once before. Losing the talisman would ruin her father and she hoped it would be a painful ending.

"Carrick, why have ye forgotten me?" she whispered. He'd not returned from his mission and she could wait no longer. She must flee or be handed over to another ruthless bastard, Ross.

After slipping the precious stone back into its covering, she tucked it deep in the pocket of her skirt where it would not fall out or be easily grabbed by thieves. She tiptoed into the buttery to grab oats and nuts for her journey and, with tear-filled eyes, canvassed the room. Memories too numerous to count flooded her heart. With trembling hands she lifted the large tapestry concealing the secret door that led to an escape tunnel. In one hand, she carried a torch lifted from the wall to light her way down the damp eerie passage. It ended outside the gates where she doused the flame so as not to be noticed by the guards.

With trepidation, she fled the only home she'd ever known—the home of her ancestors.

The stark white moon cast dark, ominous shadows through the forest. Smells of rotting wood and stagnant water reminded her of the dungeons at Strathnaver. She and her brother had played there as children. She'd be thrown into the dungeon, if caught. A twig broke under her foot, echoing loud in the stillness. Birds took flight, causing leaves to drip water they'd held from an earlier rain. A symphony of night music accompanied her hurried steps.

Nervously, Rhianna reached into her pocket and rubbed the MacKay talisman, finding comfort in its presence.

"'Tis nothing more than to be far away from his reach I be wanting," she muttered.

Rhianna's feet slipped on the moss-covered forest floor. White mist clawed at her hem while strange-colored clouds gathered in the sky. A shiver of foreboding raced down her spine. She'd never seen the like. Her fingers stroked the stone more quickly. She moved deeper into trees, hoping to escape the strange fog, but it twisted around her ankles and legs, rising to envelope her from head to toe. Fear unlike any she'd ever known gripped her soul. The fog thickened and the world turned black.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

INTERVIEW WITH A NARRATOR



Hello, All,

I hope your Christmas holidays were joyous and full of happiness with the ones you love. 

In early 2018, I worked with narrators to produce “Dangerous Heat” and “The Treasure” into audiobooks at Findaway Voices. 

Today, one of those narrators, Hugh Bradley, is here with me to answer some questions about being a narrator. 

Hugh is the narrator of “Dangerous Heat,” and his approach to the characters in the book was spot-on.  He also has a sexy bedroom voice which lended well to the story, especially in scenes between Tom and Whitney.  🙂




Interview with Hugh Bradley:

1)         What did you do before you became a narrator?

I’m a classically trained actor, and have been on Broadway and toured all over the world. I still perform on stage from time to time, but most of the time these days I stick to recording, and producing and directing for the stage.

2)         How long have you been narrating audiobooks?

For just about 10 years now. The industry has changed a lot since then!

3)         Do you work for more than just one audiobook company?

I do. You can find titles I’ve narrated across most of the platforms out there.

4)         Do you work at home or a studio?

I have a studio at home, as well as a travel rig I take with me when I’m away from home.

5)         If at home, what kind of set up do you have?

I run a few different mics, mostly Sennheiser, at home. I also use the portable Audio Technica’s 2020 USB, which I’m using more and more often because it’s just so dang convenient.

6)         What helped you decide to be a narrator?

My agent first got me into it. I think being a theatre actor made it an easy transition, and being able to do different accents and character voices was an asset I already had from that field. I also am a voracious reader of all genres, so that made going to work a fun thing as well.

7)         What do you enjoy the most about being a narrator?

At first, the work itself - but like I mentioned above, the ability to play a range of characters I would never be able to on stage or screen certainly is incredibly enjoyable. Finding each character’s voice within my own, while keeping it believable or at least enjoyable to the reader’s ear, and within the sensibility of the world or genre the author has created is particularly fun.

8)         What genres do you narrate?

Primarily romance, but I do a lot of work with various English accents, as well as historical novels, and some science fiction.

9)         Do you have a favorite genre?

I’ve been narrating a lot of historical English ‘high period’ romance novels in recent years. The Dickensian type characters in those can be a lot of fun.


10)       What is your process when you are hired to do a new project?

I often start with finding the right tone for the narration. Once I find that, I zero in on the protagonist(s), keeping within a range that I can replicate over the course of recording for hours on end every day, and so that it sounds naturalistic within the scope or style the author has created. And then mapping out the novel so those choices are consistent is my next step. I often use different colored pencils on a hard copy or highlight colors on a pdf to help with that, especially if it’s dialogue with multiple characters in one scene.

11)       Do you do one project at a time or do you mix?

I prefer to do one project at time. It helps with consistency for the voices, and also, I like living in the world of a novel without mixing as a reader. Sometimes that doesn’t happen given busy recording demands, however.

12)       Do you have contact with the author prior to starting the project?

I prefer to. It helps me get a sense of the tone and style, and I always ask how the author hears the characters in their own heads before I send a sample version for them to approve.

13)       What type of information from an author helps you get into character for the stories?

I many times will ask for a famous actor as an example of who they might cast in the movie version.  That often seems to be the most efficient way to dial in a certain vocal quality or style of performance.

14)       What do you draw on for the emotions you bring to each character?

Backstory is important. If it’s not in the writing itself, I’ll ask an author a character’s history to tease out any emotion or stylization.

15)       Do you do different voices?

Quite a few.

16)       How do you approach female voices?

For me, it’s not about mimicking or trying to approximate a typical female “sound” or vocal range, but more about tambre and intonation. Given that I have a deeper voice as a baritone, finding a realistic balance for female characters is important. I want to be able to give a full a range of emotion and pitch as I would character with a vocal range closer to my own, without them coming across as comedic or affected. I often times will intentionally lighten the deeper resonance in my voice, which means having a good microphone that I can get closer to becomes even more important.

17)       Do you do accents?

I do.


18)       How many different accents can you do?

I’d say I regularly use 4 different accents in most of the audiobook work I do - a neutral American, a posh or character British, a more standard British (RP), and a general southeastern/southern American. That said, I can do most accents fairly proficiently after some study and polish. I grew up in Germany as a kid until I was a teenager, studied opera later for undergraduate where I also had to learn Italian, French, and Russian, and later went to university in London to study acting, where accent work was a very large part of the training. I specialize in English (UK) language accents ranging from RP (Received Pronunciation) to Northern, Scottish, and various Irish. I’m also fortunate to have extended family in the American South and Appalachia, so I’ve had those accents in my ear for most of my life. It’s very much an extension of music and musical ear training, as far as I’m concerned.

19)       How much contact with the author do you need during a project?

I prefer to review the process as we go, so as much as the author and I feel we need. I find that we generally hit stride after a few chapters, and that makes the process pretty streamlined once we do.

20)       Have you ever read a scene that made you uncomfortable?

Oh, sure.

21)       How did you handle it?

In terms of content, I’m not the author, so I don’t have many qualms about that. This is going to sound incredibly snobbish, but the most uncomfortable non-content related moments have been where the writing is grammatically incorrect or just not well written - a horrible thing to say, I know. But that’s where as an actor, you have find a way to make it work.

22)       Are there scenes that you absolutely won’t do?

If it’s justified within the scope of the world, or the character’s journey that the author has created,  then I don’t see any reason not to. That said, I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence, especially against children, women or animals, so I have turned down work based on that before. I’ve narrated some pretty gory thrillers and murder mysteries, but those were justified given the genre.

23)       Have you ever done a book where you worked with another narrator?

I have. Often times an author will ask for that if a novel is told from two points of view, mostly a female and a male character in the same story.

24)       How did that work?  Did you work in the same studio or separate?

We worked in separate studios. We created a spreadsheet for all the characters and agreed on descriptions for each one’s voice before we began. It took a little doing, but we intentionally weren’t trying to imitate each other. It was more about getting a general similarity when we were voicing the same characters from the other narrative point of view. We hit stride pretty quickly, and it was a rewarding experience. I can sometimes find this jarring as a listener if the narrators aren’t in sync with each other’s style, but as a narrator, that’s the rewarding part of the challenge of dual narration.


25)       Do you ever get asked to do more books in a series?

I do. And I love it - being able to live with a character for more than one book and see how they grow and change is fun. You don’t get to do that with many other forms of storytelling.

26)       How long does it take to complete a project?

Totally depends. Books that are really complicated with lots of different characters and styles can take several weeks to finish. A good general rule is for every one hour of finished audio, it’s between 1.5 to 2.5 hours of studio time, though that can be whittled down if you have a fairly straightforward read.

27)       I know what I am like to work with, and you survived it.    Has there been times when you have had to stop working with an author?

Ah, Sloan, you were awesome to work with. Totally clear, and enjoyable notes that made figuring out the character’s voices and chemistry even more fun. To date, I’ve been very fortunate. I haven’t had to stop working with any given author on a project, and that’s after several dozen audiobooks. I have had to postpone a few when I had a bad injury a few years ago, but nothing that stemmed from a creative difference. I’ve also developed a pretty solid checklist over the years when it comes to different styles of audiobooks, so I like to think I’d be able to accommodate a writer’s needs, while maintaining my own integrity as a voice artist.

28)       What happens when you stop a project?

Cross that bridge if it ever comes!

29)       Do you help with promotion for the finished projects?

Absolutely. I enjoy the process and getting word out to fans, and meeting new fans!

30)       If so, what kind of promotions do you do?

Everything from questionnaires like this, to podcasts and more. So far, no television appearances, but it’s a new year ahead and you never know!



Hugh and I would love to hear from you.  You can leave comments for Hugh at https://www.facebook.com/hughbradleyvoice/  and for me at https://www.facebook.com/sloan.mcbride or https://www.facebook.com/sloanmcbrideauthor/.

For more information on Hugh Bradley and other narrators you can visit Findaway Voices.

For more information on my other audiobooks, please visit Sloan's Books.