Audiobook, Drawn In

Meet the Voice of Rennie! (…And All of Rennie’s Friends)

almond bio

I can’t even tell you how excited I am to make this introduction. Seriously, I feel like this has been years in the making. Everyone… I would like you to meet Almond Eastland. (Everyone: “Hi Almond!”) This is the wonderful lady who has given Rennie (and all of her friends and foes!) a voice. She has brought so much artistry to my little indie book, and I just can’t say enough about how thrilled I am to have her on board. She has brought all of Rennie’s qualities and quirks to full-dimension life and I am ecstatic to share her with you!

FIRST… a quick reminder that we’re doing a GIVEAWAY for a FREE download of the audiobook for Drawn In: Book One of the Paper Dreams Chronicles. For details, see the post from yesterday. To cut to the chase and get your own copy now, click here!

Okay, so a little background on how this partnership came to be… I posted in June about beginning my hunt for auditions on the ACX site. I had never met Almond (still haven’t in person… that seems weird! Haha!), but when I heard her audition, I got goosebumps. It’s hard to describe that moment as an author when you just know that you’re listening to your main character. I mean, Rennie talks to me all the time, so I know what she sounds like (I’m not crazy… it’s an author thing). So long story short, I gathered some great auditions, and weeded through them, and I narrowed it down to my top two. I had them both read one more section, and I knew I had my Rennie. There are so many phrases and sections that she reads which sound exactly like they do in my head; it’s almost freaky.  And there are also a few interpretations which took me off-guard and surprised me. Again, as an author, that’s pretty freaking cool.

So without further ado… meet Almond!

Sioux: Hi Almond! Welcome to my blog; I’m so glad you could join me!

Almond: Hi Sioux! Thank you so much for having me!

S: Before we dive into the art of audiobooks, I have to comment on what a great name you have! As someone who enjoys unusual names, I have to know… is there a story there? 
A: Thank you. You have a pretty cool name, too!
The short version is that my mom was a 19-year-old hippie. The longer version is that she had a vision of me before I was born and “received” the scripture, “the Almond tree shall flourish.”
S: That is so cool! I love that there’s such a unique story behind your unique name.
So now to audiobooks… what made you want to get into narration? 
A: I’ve loved to read for as long as I’ve been able to, and I love audiobooks for letting me read more that I would otherwise be able to, since I can listen while I drive or do other things.
When I was researching college majors, I already had a family to support, and none of the professions that would let me read for a living seemed to offer much in the way of financial security, so I chose to become an accountant.
Once my kids were in college, I began to investigate other career paths that I might find more fulfilling. I heard Carrie Olsen talk about voice over on the Afford Anything podcast, so I started researching it. Audiobook narration is the branch of voice over that “makes my heart sing,” as they say, and now I’m working toward being able to read for a living after all. 
S: You have such a great style and a vast array of vocal traits. I’m betting that didn’t happen overnight! Can you tell us about some of the training you’ve had and the tools you use to build those skills?
A: Thank you. That’s very kind of you to say. Most audiobook narrators are trained actors, so I’ve definitely had a steep learning curve. Fortunately, I love to learn, so I am constantly working to build and grow my skills. That involves everything from listening to a lot of audiobooks (yay!) to taking classes, and working one-on-one with coaches. It is very challenging, and a huge investment, but that’s what it takes to learn a new profession.
One thing that’s pretty cool is that I’ve gotten to work with my youngest son, Ian. He’s a newly-minted drama teacher, and, in my completely unbiased opinion, a great coach. It’s been really neat to be able to learn from him and see him in his professional role. It’s something I think not a lot of parents get to experience.
S: Wow, what a cool experience! So tell me a little about your personal style. Do you have a favorite genre to narrate? 
A: Apparently, I have a young-sounding voice, so I seem to be a good fit for any genre that features a young female lead–all the better if she’s a bit quirky! So far, that’s meant cozy mystery, YA, fantasy, and romance. I guess if I had to choose, I’d go with YA because it can encompass all the other genres.
S: And, of course, I have to ask a few questions about this book, because it’s mine! Haha! What made you audition for Drawn In when you saw it posted on the ACX site?
A: The blurb was immediately intriguing. It sounded like a compelling story that I would enjoy reading–and it was! Then, when I downloaded the audition script, the writing was really strong, and the characters seemed to leap off the page. I try to put auditions out of my mind as soon as I submit them, but this was one I was really hoping I’d get.
S: Was there a particular character who was especially fun or interesting for you? What made him/her stand out to you?
A: Well, I know it’s the obvious answer, but I just loved Rennie. She’s smart and funny and nerdy. I just felt an immediate connection to her. 
S: And that connection definitely shines through when you portray her! Now, without any spoilers, did you have a favorite scene or section?
A: First of all, I love the overall sense of mystery, that “what is going on here?” feeling of the book. (You really need to finish Book 3 so I can find out!) And the contrasting but overlapping settings are great!
Maybe because of that mysterious quality, I was surprised by how sharply the book evoked that “first love” feeling. I met my husband when I was 17, and I found myself thinking a lot about that summer when I was doing my pre-read. So, my favorite scenes are the ones with Rennie and Alex.
S: Haha! I am working on Book 3, I promise! And finally, any advice for people who want to learn to narrate audiobooks? 
A: It’s harder than you think! If you’re interested in narrating audiobooks, first take Sean Pratt’s test: Then, if you’re still interested, be willing to invest in good coaching and tools.
S: Thanks so much for coming on my blog today! You are such a joy to work with, and I love learning more about how you do what you do!
A: Thank you for inviting me, Sioux. It’s been a real pleasure to work with you, too.
So there you have it! Want to learn more about Almond? Check out her sites too!
And her Instagram is here: almond.eastland

Audiobook, Drawn In

It’s Official… We Have an Audiobook! (Plus a GIVEAWAY!)

2019-12-26 (2)

Oh my gosh you guys you guys you guys!! We did a thing… Rennie has a VOICE! Drawn In: Book One of the Paper Dreams Chronicles is now officially an audiobook and it’s LIVE and available on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon!

The narrator, Almond Eastland, is absolutely incredible and I am so so pleased with how this has turned out. Stay tuned this weekend for an interview with her right here on my blog to learn more about her and the art of audiobook narration. She’s really great. I can’t wait for you to meet her!

In the meantime, let’s do a giveaway! Who wants a FREE code to download the Drawn In audiobook?? To enter, comment here on the blog, on the Facebook post, the Instagram post, or the Twitter post. That’s it! Each comment will get you an entry. SHARE the post for an extra entry! Someone will win… might as well be you! I’ll do the drawing on Wednesday 01/01 (cos why not start the New Year with free stuff, right?).

A Time Forgotten, Book Two, Drawn In, Fun

Let’s Do a Release Day Giveaway!


A Time Forgotten is available today!!! Woo hoo!!! (And here’s the link, ICYMI)

I am so excited to have Rennie back in the world, and I want to share the excitement with everyone! So let’s celebrate with a giveaway!

All you have to do is leave a comment here, on my author Facebook page, or Goodreads, or on Twitter, and you’re entered! So easy, right? And if you comment in all 4 locations, or share any of the posts, you will earn an extra entry!

My randomizer app will choose a winner on Sunday 08/12 and one of your will win a signed paperback along with some other swag!

So who wants to win? I want you to win!! Let’s do this!!


A Time Forgotten, Book Two, Drawn In

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Launch Day…

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 12.40.22 PM

Soooo… funny story. I went to my Amazon author page to see what I needed to update and lo and behold, A Time Forgotten is listed as Available! Whaaaat??? So, thank you Amazon, the paperback version is available TODAY!

The Kindle version is still slated for tomorrow, so if you’ve pre-ordered, it will arrive as scheduled.

So here it is… get your PAPERBACK version a day early (and just think, you’ll avoid alllll the spoilers by reading early!)

cover newest


life, Trying ME on for Size, Writing

NEW Book!


Okay, here’s the thing. I’ve been absent for quite some time, and I’ve hinted at a new “project” I was working on. Well, that project was ME. In July of 2015 I underwent Weight Loss Surgery and my life has been forever altered. I’ve lost 112 pounds and I feel like I can fit in my own skin now. It’s an incredible feeling.

It’s not for everyone. It’s controversial. Some people think it’s “cheating” or taking the “easy way” out. (It’s neither of those, actually, and I truly don’t understand that mentality. Cheating what? The billion dollar weight-loss industry? Okay! I’m good with that!) But I did it and it’s been life-changingly wonderful for me.

And so, I wrote a book. Cos that’s what I do. So here it is… partially story of my own journey, partially a workbook to help people decide if it’s right for them (or simply to learn what people go through with this tool). If you’re interested, you can click on the photo of my cover above, or you can click right here to get to the Amazon page. Right now, only the e-book is available, but the paperback will be out next week.

This is a personal journey, made less personal by putting it on Amazon. It’s a vulnerable experience, especially for an introvert like me. But I’m hopeful that it can help someone else going through the same journey. If that’s the case, then it’s worth it all.

And yes, book two of Drawn In is still happening, and it’s nearing completion. I promise. 🙂


A Reading Challenge for 2016

vintage books and a cup of coffee

I keep seeing reading challenges pop up on different sites and blogs, and I love the idea so much, I thought I’d create my own version! I tend to pick my next book based on mood or recommendation or what’s handy at the moment. So I hope that having a list like this will inspire my 2016 reading a bit, and maybe focus my TBR pile some as well. I’m going to make it a fairly short list though, so I can leave myself lots of room for reading what strikes my fancy along the way. Fair enough, right? So here goes…

  1. A book set in a foreign country
  2. A retelling of a fairy tale or legend
  3. A book with a season in the title
  4. A book based on a true story
  5. A book that’s about to be made into a movie
  6. A debut author
  7. A book with a colour in the title
  8. A classic that I’ve never read
  9. A book with water of some kind on the cover
  10. An indie author
  11. A book featuring a MC from a different culture
  12. A book with a music theme
  13. A book with a one-word title
  14. A book with a title of at least six words
  15. A retelling of a Shakespeare play
  16. A book with a holiday as a central element
  17. A book with a purple cover
  18. A book set in space
  19. A book released in 2016
  20. A sequel to a book I read more than a year ago

Okay, I think that will do it. I’m excited to have a list to cross things off of! Anyone else challenging your list this year? Let me know, we can compare notes!




Author Interview: Tara St Pierre and her book “Just a Few Inches”

Hi there! I’ve been missing for a while working on some personal… shall we say projects? Sure. We’ll go with that. But I’m back! And today I’m so excited to tell you about a book I read recently. I don’t usually do the book promoting/reviewing thing on here, but I couldn’t resist with this one! The book is called Just a Few Inches and you can read my full review here.

JaFI cover

But more than that, I am thrilled to have its author, Tara St Pierre, on my blog with me today! I’m so so happy to get to support a fellow indie author! First, the blurb for the book so you have a bit of context…

All Carrie Roberts wants is to be a little bit smaller.

To fit into the perfect dress for the Valentine’s Day Dance. To look beautiful for her boyfriend, the school’s star basketball player. To keep his jealous ex-girlfriend, a rival cheerleader, away from him. And to be noticed by her classmates.

Exercising and dieting don’t work, but an advertisement for weight loss pills promises a quicker solution to her problem. As time runs out, she takes more than the recommended dose until she’s just a few inches slimmer. Heads turn when she arrives at the dance, and the wonderful night with her boyfriend is beyond what she dreamed it would be.

Days later, Carrie discovers that her body is changing in ways that should be impossible. While her doctor searches for a cure, she desperately turns to her friends and family for support. Everyone is noticing her now whether she likes it or not, and even the media is intrigued by her incredible story. Getting everything she once wanted has created new problems–problems that are growing more terrifying every day.

Because Carrie Roberts is shrinking.

Sounds so good, right? It is unique and thought-provoking, funny and touching… I really enjoyed it all around. And now… Tara!

Hi Tara! Thanks so much for joining me on my blog today!

Hi Sioux! Thanks for having me!

Just a Few Inches has such an interesting premise. What inspired you to write this book?

The original inspiration came from standing in the check-out line at a supermarket or drugstore. All those magazines with airbrushed cover photos made me wonder about the messages they send to young women. One had a cover story about some method to shrink your dress size. I remembered the Lily Tomlin movie The Incredible Shrinking Woman from my youth, and my brain created an interesting mash-up. I imagined a girl, struggling with her own perception of her body based on such conflicting images in the media. What if she tried one of those methods to shrink her dress size but instead of losing inches around her waist and hips, she lost them from her height? At that point, I was sure I had something unique. I hoped the simple speculative element of her shrinking would keep readers turning the pages while Carrie learned her lesson. I quickly realized that the only way to make it work was to write it from Carrie’s point of view. Not only would it help make her situation seem all the more real, but I could utilize her narration as social commentary while she internalizes what she learns from her own experience and from observing others.

We see the book, first person, through Carrie’s eyes. It was fascinating to watch her shrink and see ordinary objects become challenges and even threats to her. How were you able to keep track of all of the specific height references?

Lots and lots of measuring! I measured the height of counters, sinks, doorknobs, tables, beds, clothing, various dolls, phones, and other common objects. I referenced growth charts for girls so I could compare Carrie to her sisters’ heights—but she wouldn’t perfectly match their sizes. For example, a toddler has a different overall shape than a teenager, so that would affect how clothes would fit. Using averages for a girl of Carrie’s starting height (5’8”), I created a spreadsheet to calculate her measurements (height, weight, waist, arm length, foot length—you name it) for every single day of her incredible journey. At that point, I matched situations to her height. For example, there’s a scene where she’s trapped in a closet, so she needed to be too short to use the doorknob effectively. I also used the spreadsheet to determine when she’d transition her clothing—from her younger sisters to infant clothes and ultimately to doll clothes.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

Trying to find the right balance between theme and plot. I didn’t want it to come across as too heavy-handed, yet I wanted Carrie to learn so much—to grow internally—as she shrank externally. It’s easy for her to regret her decision to take the pills early on because it’s doing something so incredibly terrifying to her. But along the way, I had her observe others (her younger sisters, her friends and classmates, even her mother and doctor) to try learning where—and when—our body image issues come from. Various heights allowed for different lessons. For example, some people claim the unreal dimensions of fashion dolls may be an early contributing factor to body image struggles in girls. Whether or not that’s true, I can’t say, but I could posit the question while Carrie was that tall.

It’s pretty clear that there are body image messages throughout the book, and they’re handled really well. (Having her want to be a journalist and using that to speak consciously about her issues was a really smart move, by the way!) Is there one Tweet- sized message you’d like to have us come away with?

Thank you! Since the media plays a part in our perception of body image, it made sense to make Carrie somewhat media savvy. She starts maintaining a blog about midway through the story, and she’d probably post on other social media sites too. This is a fewer-than-140-characters line from her blog (when she’s 2’ 2” tall) that I believe she’d Tweet out: “I’d much rather have a body—any body, at any size, even this one—than to shrink away to nothing and have no body whatsoever.”

What is a favorite line from Just a Few Inches? 

My absolute favorite line occurs at the very end of the story, but I don’t want to give anything like that away. Got to save something for the readers. 😉 I have so many other lines that I love for a variety of reasons, including the one above and this one (from when she’s 4’ 2” tall): Would I ever be that secure with what I was? And which of the labels—cheerleader, shrinking, or incredible—would I ultimately embrace?

And I have to ask… other than Carrie of course, who is your favorite character?

Definitely Evan. It was great to write someone so sweet and secure in who he was, even if he was shy at times. Also, I could incorporate some of my inner dorkiness into him. There are some scenes where he performs calculations about Carrie’s height or her trajectory in a cheering routine. I had to do the calculations myself in researching and developing the story, so why let them go to waste or keep them behind the scenes? His character gave me the opportunity to insert some of them into the storyline!

Are you working on other projects?

Actively working on? Well, not exactly. But I have written what may become the first chapter of a future project. Right now, it’s a scene with two boys eating pizza while one wants to discuss fractions and infinity. The conversation came to me one morning, so rather than lose it, I typed it out. I like the narrator’s voice, and I’ve started sketching out what his lecture is a defense mechanism for. Whether this will develop a later YA novel, I don’t know. It took a long time for me to complete Inches, so we’ll just have to wait and see!

And now… just for fun…

Chocolate or Vanilla?

Vanilla…which is interesting, considering at least one character in the story has quite the affinity for chocolate.

Apples or Oranges?

Apples…I don’t like citrus.

Disney or Universal?

Do I have to choose? Both are responsible for so much wonderful entertainment!

Superman or Iron Man?

Iron Man…love his snarkiness…and he’s got a cooler suit than Superman.

Movie theatre or Netflix?

Movie theatre…there’s something great about the shared experience of watching the story unfold as part of an audience that’s far better than watching it at home where you can pause it.

Winter or Summer?

Summer…long days, sunny weather, barbecues, beaches. What’s not to love?

Thanks Tara! I loved having you join me today. Now here ya go readers … go forth and read! Here’s the link (or click the cover above). And don’t forget to add it to your TBR list on GoodReads too. 


What is your STOPPING point?


In the final throes of editing and proofreading before hitting that “Publish” button, I am once again re-visiting my opening paragraphs. I have two that I like, one that I’m leaning towards, and I’m 90% certain I’m leaving it alone. However, in the past few months, I’ve been hyper aware of how other authors choose to start their novels. It’s fascinating.

I recently began reading a book that had been highly anticipated, and then highly recommended by several blogs that I follow. I’ve found some great books this way in the past, and have rarely been disappointed when a book has this much positive buzz. So I bought it, started it, and at the end of chapter one I thought.. eh. Not really into this yet, I have zero connection with the main character (and first person narrator). But it was so highly talked about, I’ll give it another chapter.

I ended up giving it three more chapters. I still had no connection at all with the main character, didn’t understand a lot of what was going on plot-wise or love-interest-wise, and wasn’t particularly blown away with the writing in general. When the next night came around, I anxiously picked up my Kindle, ready to settle into a great book… and then I remembered. It was that book. My heart sank. And that’s when I knew it was time to give up. I downloaded another book from the top of my TBR pile, and never looked back.

Last fall, I read a whole book that I wasn’t connecting with (mediocre writing, unrealistic character choices, not even edited well grammatically), but this book is a thing. It’s a big popular series–so it can’t be bad, right? I just wasn’t getting it? I still don’t know.

So here’s the thing… how much is too much? Or maybe more appropriately, how little is too little? When do you stop reading a book you’re just not connecting with? Do you give a book a chapter? Two? A single page?