Host Steven James Discusses Storytelling with actor, director, and screenwriter Paul Leyden

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Host Steven James Discusses Storytelling with actor, director, and screenwriter Paul Leyden

This podcast originally appears on thestoryblender.com May 7, 2018. Duration: 60 min.

 

 

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Steven James author

 

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About Steven James

Steven James is a national bestselling novelist whose award-winning, pulse-pounding thrillers continue to gain wide critical acclaim and a growing fan base.

Suspense Magazine, who named Steven’s book THE BISHOP their Book of the Year, says that he “sets the new standard in suspense writing.” Publishers Weekly calls him a “master storyteller at the peak of his game.” And RT Book Reviews promises, “the nail-biting suspense will rivet you.”

Equipped with a unique Master’s Degree in Storytelling, Steven has taught writing and storytelling on four continents over the past two decades, speaking more than two thousand times at events spanning the globe.

Steven’s groundbreaking book on the art of fiction writing, STORY TRUMPS STRUCTURE, won a Storytelling World award. Widely-recognized for his story crafting expertise, he has twice served as a Master CraftFest instructor at ThrillerFest, North America’s premier training event for suspense writers.

Respected by some of the top thriller writers in the world, Steven deftly weaves intense stories of psychological suspense with deep philosophical insights. As critically-acclaimed novelist Ann Tatlock put it, “Steven James gives us a captivating look at the fine line between good and evil in the human heart.”

After consulting with a former undercover FBI agent and doing extensive research on cybercrimes, Steven wrote his latest thriller, EVERY DEADLY KISS–a taut, twist-filled page turner that is available now wherever books are sold.

If you’ve never met environmental criminologist and geospatial investigator Patrick Bowers, EVERY DEADLY KISS is the perfect chance to dive into the series and find out what fans and critics everywhere are raving about.

Audiobook Review: Conquest by R.M. Mulder

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An ancient continent is missing from Earth.
A primeval darkness threatens mankind.
A modern woman discovers her destiny.

When undercover agent Lily Thatcher is ordered to undergo a dangerous medical mind-wipe procedure prior to re-assignment, she avoids arrest and becomes a rogue agent. She quickly learns that there are much greater forces at work that are far beyond her comprehension.

Timur Demyan, formerly known as the feared Tamerlane of the ancient Tumurid Empire, has forged an alliance with a loathsome creature called the Leviathan. This beast’s insatiable hunger is currently being fed by another world’s few remaining souls.

For now.

Their paths meet at a showdown, but Lily knows that there’s far more at stake than just her mortality. A morbid question looms in the back of her mind:

Can she prevent Earth’s Apocalyptic Fate?

 

Audible | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

 

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NARRATOR PERFORMANCE: 9/10

 

 

  • Narrator-Story Connection: 10/10

Kudos to narrator Andrea Emmes who always does an excellent job embodying the scope of the story with all its characters. Believe me, the scope was pretty broad in this one!

 

  • Voice Creation/Switch Over:  9/10

The voices were spot on for the protagonists and antagonist. What helps make it more believable is the narrators ability to infuse emotion into their character. Andrea Emmes is very skilled in this area.

 

  • Pacing 9/10

Great pacing employed throughout the story. I’m sure this is a lot harder than it sounds. The story flowed well from beginning to end.

 

  • Emphasis 10/10

Excellent. The emotional quality of each main character is key, as well as emphasizing the quirks of each personality. No easy feat to accomplish!

 

  • Reader-Story Connection  8/10

Only the skill of the narrator kept in the story of this book. There’s a lot of different elements in the plot line that made it challenging for me.

 

  • Sound Quality: 10/10

Publisher:   R. M. Mulder

Perfect.

 

  • Overall Performance: 9/10 

The narration was a big reason why I choose this title. I can’t emphasize enough having a good narrator for an audiobook. If it were in any other format I wouldn’t have read this at all, but because of good narration I could appreciate the story.

 

 

 

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The Motivation Myth. How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up To Win with Jeff Haden & Joanna Penn

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The Motivation Myth. How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up To Win with Jeff Haden & Joanna Penn

This podcast originally appears on The Creative Penn May 21, 2018.

Duration 1 hr 6 min.

 

The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win

 

 

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From Inc.com’s most popular columnist, a counterintuitive–but highly practical–guide to finding and maintaining the motivation to achieve great things.
 
It’s comforting to imagine that superstars in their fields were just born better equipped than the rest of us. When a co-worker loses 20 pounds, or a friend runs a marathon while completing a huge project at work, we assume they have more grit, more willpower, more innate talent, and above all, more motivation to see their goals through.

But that’s not at actually true, as popular Inc.com columnist Jeff Haden proves. “Motivation” as we know it is a myth. Motivation isn’t the special sauce that we require at the beginning of any major change. In fact, motivation is a result of process, not a cause. Understanding this will change the way you approach any obstacle or big goal.

Haden shows us how to reframe our thinking about the relationship of motivation to success. He meets us at our level–at the beginning of any big goal we have for our lives, a little anxious and unsure about our way forward, a little burned by self help books and strategies that have failed us in the past—and offers practical advice that anyone can use to stop stalling and start working on those dreams.

Haden takes the mystery out of accomplishment, proving that success isn’t about spiritual awakening or a lightning bolt of inspiration –as Tony Robbins and adherents of The Secret believe–but instead, about clear and repeatable processes. Using his own advice, Haden has consistently drawn 2 million readers a month to his posts, completed a 107-mile long mountain bike race, and lost 10 pounds in a month.

Success isn’t for the uniquely-qualified; it’s possible for any person who understands the true nature of motivation. Jeff Haden can help you transcend average and make lasting positive change in your life.

 

Audible  | Amazon

 

 

Jeff Haden

 

 

Inc. Magazine contributing editor, LinkedIn Influencer, ghostwriter of dozens of books, and author of The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win.

Oh: And I like to talk to incredibly successful people to learn why they’re so successful. Short answer: They create powerful routines, and relentlessly follow them.

And you can too.

 

 

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Audiobook Blog Tour: Venetian Blood: Murder in a Sensuous City

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About the Audiobook

Author: Christine Evelyn Volker

Narrator: Gabrielle de Cuir

Length: 12 hours 6 minutes

Publisher: Christine Evelyn Volker⎮2018

Genre: Mystery

Release date: Mar. 27, 2018

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: Struggling to forget a crumbling marriage, 40-year-old Anna Lucia Lottol comes to Venice to visit an old friend – but instead of finding solace, she is dragged into the police station and accused of murdering a money-laundering count with whom she had a brief affair. A US Treasury officer with brains and athleticism, Anna fights to clear her name in a seductive city full of watery illusions. As she works to pry information from a cast of recalcitrant characters sometimes denying what she sees and hears, she succeeds in unleashing a powerful foe bent on destroying her. Will she save herself and vanquish her enemies, including her darkest fears?

A captivating tapestry of murder, betrayal, and family, Venetian Blood is a story of one woman’s brave quest for the truth – before it’s too late.

“A riveting whodunit that makes full use of its dramatic setting.” (Kirkus Reviews)

 

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This novel was quite an Italian treat. Taking place in the city of Venice, the flavor of this story is exquisitely Italian. The names, places, idioms all displayed an authenticity in the setting of this mystery. Anna Lucia Lottol is a memorable character trying to cope with a bad marriage, a murder mystery, Venetian romance,  while dealing with her own demons. This was more a like a literary murder mystery full of red herrings. Excellent.

 

 

 

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NARRATOR PERFORMANCE: 9/10

 

  • Narrator-Story Connection:  10/10

 

Gabriella de Cuir is completely enveloped in the story which make for a great book. Excellent.

 

  • Voice Creation/Switch Over:  10/10

Great character voices in this one! The Italian was off the charts and loved every bit of it.

  1. Anna Lucia Lottol is such a memorable character with an innocent personality. She reminds me of some of the old school actresses from the 60’s.
  2. Roberto’s voice and character were also memorable. A player and womanizer who has all the finesse to fully employ his lustful nature.
  3. Detective Niccolo Biondi. Not sure if I’m spelling his name correctly, but he also was a memorable character. You’ll see this often in detective mysteries, or even crime fiction. A law enforcement official hell-bent on uncovering the truth- one way or the other.

There were a slew of characters but these were some who stood out. The narrator does a flawless job of switching voices/characters throughout the book.

 

  • Pacing 9/10

The pacing throughout was spot on.

  • Emphasis 9/10

Knowing when and how much to emphasize with each character was great. I think this distinguishes an ordinary narrator and the better ones. It really brings out the personality of the character and makes them more believable. Anna was so adorable!

 

  • Reader-Story Connection  8/10

Initially I had a harder time locking into the story for some reason. By this I mean, focus. Some stories are easier than other for different reasons. But once I zeroed in on the form of storytelling and narrative voice, it was sensational.

 

  • Sound Quality: 10/10

Publisher: Christine Evelyn Volker – Excellent sound quality.

 

  • Overall Performance: 9/10 

Gabriella de Cuir is a pleasure to listen to. She has great skill in many areas and I’d definitely listen to her again! Highly recommended.

 

 

 

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A few questions with author Christine Evelyn Volker

 

 

  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?

 

Yes. But it didn’t enter the choices that I made. If you’re a writer doing your job, you’re already making decisions based on the cadence of words, their sounds, how realistic your dialog is and how it would be spoken. All of these factors are critical for a good audiobook. After the first few drafts, I read the book out loud to hear how the words sounded and made changes if they didn’t work well together.

 

 

  • How did you select your narrator?

 

Gabrielle de Cuir auditioned, and I loved her voice – its pitch and expressiveness. She brought out the characters’ emotions while also creating interest in paragraphs of pure description. Once I heard her Italian pronunciation (I also speak it), I knew she could handle the super-challenging text I had written: lots of Italian and Spanish words, plus six types of accents in English. I checked her background. She had won awards, and was highly experienced. She didn’t have to learn the craft via my book. I used Audiobook Creation Exchange (acx). Despite the audition and the first fifteen minutes where the author listens to the narrator’s recording and provides feedback, going forward there’s a lot riding on faith. Faith that the rest of the voice actor’s work holds up to the standard of the first part. Given the linguistic and emotional complexity of my book it would have been easy for someone with less talent and experience to go astray.

 

 

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  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?  

 

We worked together very smoothly. I spent a lot of time at the beginning by preparing six pages of written character descriptions, including minor ones. I boiled the key characters down, their attitudes, what made them tick, and where important, how I thought their voices could sound. This allowed her to reflect before she started, to figure out how she’d breathe life into their words. Since Gabrielle grew up in Rome, I didn’t need to give her Italian pronunciation tips. That was a huge boost. We did have a back and forth, surprisingly to me, about the first name of the main character, Anna. I didn’t have to consider this at all when writing the book. But Anna’s name would sound different when pronounced by Italians or Americans (“Ah-na” vs. “Anna.”) This could confuse listeners. Gabrielle needed to nail it down. We decided on the “Ah-na” pronunciation, no matter which character was saying it.

 

 

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  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?

 

Certainly there’s my visceral love for Venice which becomes a character in the novel. I tried to bring out the city’s rich and storied past, its faded glory and its contradictions. Venice still exists, against all odds. Then there are bits of my own life hidden away in the pages. In 1992, I went to Italy for work but also to seek space from a troubled first marriage, so I fused pain with my love of Venice and the desire to create. The time period for the book is the same. Also, wildlife is a sub-theme in the book; nature and the future of the earth are important to me.

 

 

  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?

 

Definitely when there are two characters engaged in a suspenseful or moving dialog, like Anna being grilled by Detective Biondi, Anna and Pablo confiding in her about Sergio – the dead man, Anna, Margo and Agatha together later in the book when Agatha reveals shocking secrets. I’ve listened to my audiobook three times now, and its emotional punch is greater throughout. Whether it’s the fact that language is meant to be spoken, or that in our history, the spoken word came before the written one, or that many of us had the pleasure of hearing our parents tell us stories before we learned to read, or that listening is a more elemental pleasure than following dots across a page, or that hearing is something we engaged in before we were even born, or that it’s all of the above—I can’t say. But a well-narrated story is more gripping than the written one.

 

 

  • “If this title were being turned into a movie or television series, who should be cast as its characters?”.

 

Anna Lucia Lottol: Rachel Weisz

Detective Niccolo Biondi: Daniel Craig

Margo Fruhling: Jennifer Connelly

Count Alessandro Favier: Giancarlo Giannini

Pablo Morales: Javier Bardem or Edward James Olmos

Dudley Filbert: Gary Oldham

Agatha Filbert: Helen Mirren

Roberto Cavallin: Raoul Bova

 

 

 

 

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About the Author: Christine Evelyn Volker

Christine Evelyn Volker became intrigued by foreign cultures at an early age, which propelled her to study Spanish, German, and Italian. After securing a BA in Spanish and an MLS at University at Albany – SUNY, followed by an MBA at UC Berkeley, she was drawn to international banking and became a senior vice president at a global financial institution. Her career brought her to Italy, where she immersed herself in the language and made frequent visits to Venice. Venetian Blood marks a return to her roots in the humanities, and just won the Sarton Women’s Book Award for contemporary fiction.

She is currently at work on her second international mystery, this one set in the rainforest of Peru.

 

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Gabrielle de Cuir

 

 

About the Narrator: Gabrielle de Cuir

Gabrielle has narrated over 400 hundred titles specializing in fantasy, humor, and titles requiring extensive foreign language and accent skills. Her “velvet touch” as an actors’ director has earned her a special place in the audiobook world as the foremost choice for best-selling authors and celebrities. Short list of those directed: Anne Hathaway, Emilio Estevez, Wil Wheaton, Dr. Daniel G. Amen, Elijah Wood, Deepak Chopra, Eric Idle, Nancy Cartwright, Michael York, Ed Herrmann, and Joe Mantegna. She is the writer and director of the Award winning short film THE DELIVERY, which deals with an Alice-in-Wonderland version of audio books. She spent her childhood in Rome growing up with her wildly artistic and cinematic father, John de Cuir, four-time Academy Award winning Production Designer, an upbringing that her to be fluent in Romance languages and to have an unusual appetite for visual delights.)

 

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Audiobook Blog Tour: The Queen of Diamonds by Patricia Loofbourrow

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The Queen of Diamonds book two

 

 

 

About Audiobook #2

Author: Patricia Loofbourrow

Narrator: Machelle Williams

Length: 7 hours 51 minutes

Publisher: Red Dog Press, LLC⎮2017

Genre: Noir Mystery, Steampunk Crime Fiction

Series: The Red Dog Conspiracy, Book 2

Release date: Feb. 7, 2017

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: No one is as they seem….

While the villain Frank Pagliacci has been defeated, all is not well in Bridges. The Four Families accuse each other of spying while Red Dog attacks escalate. Aristocratic jewel merchant Dame Anastasia Louis, styling herself “The Queen of Diamonds”, hires her long-time friend, private eye Jacqueline Spadros, to collect from her debtors so she can leave the city.

But Jacqui can’t leave David Bryce’s kidnapping and the murders of her teenage informants unpunished. Convinced that her mortal enemy, the madman “Black Jack” Diamond, was complicit in the crimes, she pursues ways to prove it. The scoundrel and his crew, however, seem to be one step ahead: the terrifying man in white is seen outside David’s home, forged letters are appearing across the city, and merchants in the Spadros quadrant report threats from a man who fits his description.

Jacqui is warned of a plot against her life. Those who try to warn Jacqui are murdered, and evidence emerges that Jacqui’s mother is next on the list. With time running out, Jacqui is forced to make a horrifying choice.

Someone will surely die. Will it be Jacqui, or her mother?

Note: this is chapter two of a 13-part serial novel, the Red Dog Conspiracy. While it’s not mandatory to have listened to chapter one (The Jacq of Spades), it’s highly recommended to do so before venturing forth.

 

Buy Links for Audiobook #2

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Now we come to book two in the Red Dog Conspiracy series, The Queen of Diamonds. This series is interesting to say the least. A neo-Victorian era; in city called Bridges where aristocratic crime families are at war with one another. At the center of it all is Jacqueline Spadros who was taken from her family and forced into a marriage with the Spadros family.

This audiobook is notably different than the first. Narrator Machelle Williams does a better job in her overall performance which brought me deeper into the story. That’s always a plus! She seems much more confident with clarity of voice, portraying characters and attitudes. Thumbs up.

 

 

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About the Author: Patricia Loofbourrow

Patricia Loofbourrow, MD is a NY Times and USA Today best-selling science fiction writer, PC gamer, ornamental food gardener, fiber artist, and wildcrafter who loves power tools, dancing, genetics and anything to do with outer space. She was born in southern California and has lived in Chicago and Tokyo. She currently lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three grown children.

 

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Narrator Machelle Williams

 

 

About the Narrator: Machelle Williams

As an audiobook narrator with 23 years of experience moving audiences with her voice through corporate facilitation and public speaking, Machelle knows how to connect with the intent of the author to bring their vision to life. Her compelling yet casual voice draws the listener close, transporting them deep into the story and keeping them hanging on every word with full attention and anticipation.

Machelle’s voice is nuanced and delivers reads that range from soft and soothing to dramatic and smoky. She specializes in Mysteries & Thrillers, but her Bespoke repertoire also includes Non-Fiction, Religious, Urban and Noire.

Machelle is based in Northern Virginia with her two Boston Terriers, Daphne and Lilah, and her fully equipped studio from which she provides quick turn-around of professional quality recordings.

When you need a narrator to take your listener to the edge of their seat and their breath away – trust the telling to Machelle.

 

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Audiobook Blog Tour: Scared to Death

Detective Kay Hunter

 

 

“If you want to see your daughter alive again, listen carefully.”

 

 

Scared to Death Cover AUDIO

 

 

About Audiobook #1

Author: Rachel Amphlett

Narrator: Alison Campbell

Length: 8 hours 27 minutes

Publisher: Saxon Publishing⎮2017

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Series: Detective Kay Hunter, Book 1

Release date: Oct. 2, 2017

 

 

 

Synopsis: “If you want to see your daughter alive again, listen carefully.”

When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong.

But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.

When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realized.

With her career in jeopardy – desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.


For the killer, the game has only just begun….

Scared to Death is the first book in a new crime thriller series featuring Kay Hunter – a detective with a hidden past and an uncertain future….

If you like the Kim Stone series by Angela Marsons, Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks series and the Erika Foster series by Robert Bryndza, discover Rachel Amphlett’s new detective novels today.

 

Buy Links for Audiobook #1

Buy on RachelAmphlett.com

 

 

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Rachel Amphlett has found the secret to create a thriller crime series. When I listened to this audiobook I got the sense that everything gels well together.  I’d say the author excels at portraying realistic crime scenes, fascinating plotting, with a unique killer. Which, in this crowded field is easier said than done.  A very solid book and balanced writing.

Narrator Alison Campbell has intriguing style of narration. Her accent is great with the ability to create various character voices.  Pacing is slower, yet lures you more into the story. Great job! I’m definitely looking forward continuing this series!

 

 

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*Name at least 3 things you love about writing crime fiction.

  1. I’m always learning something new, whether it’s about police procedure, forensics, or locations

     2. The characters! I always wanted to make sure this series wasn’t just about Kay                   Hunter – there’s a great supporting cast, too

    3.  Trying to out-fox the reader so you can’t guess who the killer is 🙂

 

*How have authors like Michael Connelly, Lee Child,  and Robert Ludlum influenced you?

Enormously. When I set out to write the Detective Kay Hunter series, I read every interview I could find with Michael Connelly for instance. With a career spanning decades and nearly thirty books in his Harry Bosch world, he’s one of the writers I truly admire in this genre, along with Peter James, Ann Cleeves, Val McDermid, Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson. They all continue to write up to the minute and relevant stories and I’d like to think I could sustain a career with the same longevity.

Reading both Lee Child and Robert Ludlum’s books taught me how important doing your research and pacing in the story are – the two go hand-in-hand, because you musn’t bore the reader!

 

 

*What are the major writing difference between spy thrillers with Dan Taylor and crime fiction with Detective Kay Hunter?

The Dan Taylor series is more plot driven, although readers do love the characters, and the Kay Hunter series is more character driven. I think that’s because by the time I started to write the Kay Hunter books I was more confident as a writer and it shows.

 

*If you could compose a dream team of the top 5 spies who would you select?

Jason Bourne, Nikita, Leon, and Decker and Eva Delacourt from my English Spy Mysteries series!

 

 

*A dream team of the top 5 detectives?

That has to be Harry Bosch, Elvis Cole, Joe Pike, Alan Banks, and Vera.

 

*Is it harder to write a thriller or mystery?

I definitely find the spy series (both of them) harder to write, simply due to the amount of research that’s involved.

 

*Is Detective Kay Hunter based on a real personality?

No.

 

*What’s next for you?

I’m currently writing the sixth book in the Detective Kay Hunter series, and tapping away at the first in what will be a new crime series in my “spare” time.

 

 

 

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About the Author: Rachel Amphlett

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

 

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Write a Bestselling Memoir: The True Story that Became a New York Times Bestseller with Regina Calcaterra

Regina Calcaterra Author photo

 

Regina Calcaterra

 

Regina Calcaterra’s memoir Etched in Sand, A True Story of Five Siblings Who Survived an Unspeakable Childhood on Long Island (HarperCollins Publishing, 2013) is a #1 international best-seller and a New York Times best-seller.  As a result of Etched in Sand’s messages of resilience, optimism, the plight of foster children, that no child is a lost cause and how we can all positively impact the life of a child in need, it has been integrated into college and high school curricula throughout the U.S. and been selected for community reads. She is also co-author of Etched in Sand’s sequel which she wrote with her younger sister Rosie Maloney, Girl Unbroken, A Sister’s Harrowing Journey from the Streets of Long Island to the Farms of Idaho (HarperCollins Publishing, 2016). Girl Unbroken has also been integrated into college curricula alongside Etched in Sand.

 

 

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Podcast 179: Write a Bestselling Memoir: The True Story that Became a New York Times Bestseller with Regina Calcaterra

Originally appears on TCK Publishing Podcast Mar 9, 2018. Length 31 min.

 

 

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Etched in Sand

 

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Girl Unbroken Regina Calcaterra

 

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Author Steven James hosts special guest Mark Greaney on the Story Blender

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Author Steven James hosts special guest Mark Greaney on the Story Blender

 

 

Mark Greaney

 

Mark Greaney is the #1 NYT bestselling author of TOM CLANCY TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE. He has written or cowritten seven Tom Clancy novels, and is also the bestselling author of the Gray Man series, including GUNMETAL GRAY, BACK BLAST, DEAD EYE, BALLISTIC, ON TARGET, and THE GRAY MAN.

Mark lives in Memphis, Tennessee

 

The Gray Man is back in another nonstop international thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novel

 

Agent in Place Audiobook

 

Learn more at MARKGREANEYBOOKS.COM

 

Original air date Jan. 22, 2018 Length 50 min. Audio Link

 

 

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