Posts Tagged ‘Paranormal romance’

The Story Behind The Curse Giver

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Dear Readers.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from you regarding how I came up with the original concept for The Curse Giver. In an effort to answer these questions, I’d like to share this essay that I wrote for The Curse Giver‘s release.

Enjoy!

D.

******

So, you’ve been wondering: How on earth did I come up with the concept for The Curse Giver?

The Curse Giver was an accident, a professional indiscretion, if you will, conceived during one of my little escapades, and born out of unchecked passion. Yep, I might as well come clean. Even the most disciplined writer can be unfaithful to her projects, and no matter how thoroughly taken one is with one’s current novel, the danger for a tangent is always there when venturing into the world of research.

So there I was, researching one book, working hard to finalize the Stonewiser series, when I came across this insidious little idea that kept disrupting my train of thought.

Now, to understand the story behind The Curse Giver, you must understand me and my writing habits. I’m not easily distracted. When I’m writing a novel, my brain goes into hyper mode. I’m disciplined, motivated and focused to the point of obsession, which is why The Curse Giver was such a surprise to me.

The subject of curses has always fascinated me, not only because curses are such a vital part of magic and fantasy, but also because they are so prevalent to the human experience. To be honest, I had always been intrigued by the subject, but didn’t delve into it, until one very late night—or was it very early morning?—when the wind rattled my window as a coastal storm blew in from the sea.

The clay tablets that popped up on my screen dated from 600 BC and were part of the library of Nineveh, also known as the library of Ashurbanipal, the oldest surviving library of cuneiform tablets. This is the same collection that gave us the famous Gilgamesh epic. Visually, the tablets weren’t much to look at, chicken scratches on clay. But the translated words had an impact on me.

May all these [gods] curse him with a curse that cannot be relieved, terrible and merciless, as long as he lives, may they let his name, his seed, be carried off from the land, may they put his flesh in a dog’s mouth.”

I know, hardly an inspiration for most. Me? I immediately thought of the man who had been thus cursed, of the pain and hardship such curse would bring upon him and his people, of the character that eventually became Bren, Lord of Laonia in The Curse Giver.

From there on, the curses flowed before my eyes, mysterious ones from ancient civilizations in Egypt, India and the Far East; thin lead tablets dating from the Greco-Roman world, judicial prayers, secret invocations, warnings and love spells that streamed into my consciousness. I knew I should get back to my original research, and yet I was smitten with the subject.

There were curses quoted from the Bible, medieval curses, real and forgeries, Viking, Celtic, Germanic, Visigoth, Mayan, Incan, Hopi, you name it. There were ancient curses but also modern curses, some associated with Santeria, voodoo and the 21 Divisions, religions that are common in the Dominican Republic where I grew up.

Who would cast these curses and why? What kind of creature could be capable of such powers? What would motivate a person to curse another one? As I explored these questions, a character profile began to emerge in my mind, someone whose understanding of good and evil was very different from my own.

Sorting through the research, I could see that some curses had practical applications to make sure people did what they were told. They served as alternate forms of law enforcement in lawless societies. Some were obviously malicious. They were meant to frighten and intimidate. Some were more like venting or wishful thinking. It turns out that mankind has been casting curses since the beginning of time and will probably continue for as long as we have the imagination and faith to do so.

A new question formed in my mind. Once cursed, what could a person do to defend himself? A third character emerged from this question, Lusielle, a common remedy mixer, a healer of hearts and bodies, someone who didn’t realize the scope of her own power until it began to transform her life.

Eventually, I wrestled myself out of the trance. I had a book to write and a series to complete. I had deadlines. But my little detour had made an impact. The concepts were at work in my subconscious, coalescing into a new novel, fashioning these powerful characters who demanded their own story. My encounter with curses had been but a slight detour from my research plan, a tiny deviation, an indiscretion to my schedule, but the seed had been planted and The Curse Giver thrived, even if I didn’t know it yet.

The Curse Giver from Amazon

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Thanksgiving always makes me feel lucky. Even if I have a tendency to stress over the stuffing, the seating arrangements and the lumps in the gravy, I love this fantastic holiday. It encompasses all of my favorites: family, friends, food and fun.  Every year, before we sit at the table, our family gives thanks for the blessings in our lives. So I thought we should do the same here, from my writer’s point of view.

In the spirit of the holiday and beginning with the obvious, I’m grateful for:

My family and friends, who support me and my writing with love, patience, grace and enthusiasm. Without them, even writing loses its meaning.

The craft of writing–gift, blessing, curse and obsession.  I’m thankful for every word, sentence, paragraph and chapter; for every story, novel and series; for every idea, image and dream; for the pure joy of writing.

My writer friends, whose flames light my way and brighten my nights.

The editors who help me become a better writer and who care enough to point out the obvious as well as the obscure.

The publishers who invest in our work and the talented teams that bring our books to market, including the cover artists, book designers, proof readers, line editors, support staff and everybody who contributes to the creation of something as unique and special as a book. Thank you for being part of our stories.

Those who help us promote our work: agents, public relations specialists and especially all those fantastic bloggers and reviewers who showcase our books.

Finally, I’m especially thankful for my readers, for their encouragement, enthusiasm and praise. They are the reason why authors like me keep writing.

Have a wonderful holiday!

D.

Thanksgiving turkey

The Curse Giver is an Award-Winning Finalist in the 2013 USA Best Book Awards

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

bestbooksfinalistJPEGsmall

Great news!

I am delighted to announce that The Curse Giver is now an award-winning finalist in the fantasy category of the 2013 USA Best Book Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. Now in its 11th year, the USA Best Book Awards is one of the largest mainstream book award competitions in the United States.

I’d like to congratulate all of the winners and finalists of the USA Best Book Awards. I’d also like to thank the judges for their hard work sifting through such a talented field and for awarding this distinction to The Curse Giver.  Huge thanks to all the folks who worked on The Curse Giver and especially to Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books, for putting together a terrific book.

You all know that writing is an indulgence to me, a selfish, satisfying pursuit. I don’t write to win contests and I’m always amazed when I do, but every once in a while it’s nice to get a pat on the back from folks who know what they’re doing.

D.

USA BOOK NEWS ANNOUNCES
WINNERS AND FINALISTS OF
THE 2013 USA BEST BOOK AWARDS

Mainstream & Independent Titles Score Top Honors

in the 10th Annual USA Best Book Awards

St. Martin’s Press, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, John Wiley & Sons, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hay House, Llewellyn Worldwide, and hundreds of Independent Houses contribute to this year’s Outstanding Competition!

LOS ANGELES – USABookNews.com, the premier online magazine featuring mainstream and independent publishing houses, announced the winners and finalists of THE 2013 USA BEST BOOKS AWARDS on November 14, 2013. Over 400 winners and finalists were announced in over 100 categories. Awards were presented for titles published in 2012 and 2013.

Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of USA Book News, said this year’s contest yielded over 1500 entries from mainstream and independent publishers, which were then narrowed down to over 400 winners and finalists.

Keen says of the awards, now in their eleventh year, “The 2013 results represent a phenomenal mix of books from a wide array of publishers throughout the United States. With a full publicity and marketing campaign promoting the results of the USA Best Book Awards, this year’s winners and finalists will gain additional media coverage for the upcoming holiday retail season.”

Winners and finalists traversed the publishing landscape: St. Martin’s Press, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, John Wiley & Sons, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hay House, Llewellyn Worldwide, Thomas Dunne Books, Oxford University Press, American Cancer Society and hundreds of independent houses contributed to this year’s outstanding competition.

Keen adds, “Our success begins with the enthusiastic participation of authors and publishers and continues with our distinguished panel of industry judges who bring to the table their extensive editorial, PR, marketing, and design expertise.”

USABookNews.com is an online publication providing coverage for books from mainstream and independent publishers to the world online community.

The winners and finalist of the Fiction/Fantasy category include:

Winner
Collider by Chris Hejmanowski
Fisher Press
978-0-9857180-0-8

Finalist
The Bane of Yoto by Joshua Viola with Nicholas Karpuk
FiXT
978-0985559014

Finalist
The Curse Giver by Dora Machado
Twilight Times Books
978-1-60619-289-4

Finalist

The Silver Sphere by Michael Dadich
Evolved Publishing
978-1622536016

A complete list of the winners and finalists of The 2013 USA Best Book Awards are available online at http://www.USABookNews.com.

CurseGiver_Front Cover Final

http://amzn.to/13oVu2P

A Review of Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone Audio-Book Edition

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Hello everybody!

I love to listen to a good story. I find it comforting, relaxing and fun to hide in a quiet corner, plug in my headset, and bask in the wonders of a great tale. My love affair with audio-books probably began early on as a child, when my parents shared their love for books by reading aloud to me. I remember thinking that it was such a treat! I then read to my own children and learned to relish not only the great children’s books of a new generation, but especially, our time together. Reading aloud to our children is not just fun; it’s also a loving gift and a lasting legacy. Look at me. I’m still craving the story that the voice tells. Or is it the voice that tells the story?

Audiobookjungle.com is one of only a handful of sites dedicated exclusively to audio-books. As a disclaimer, I will say that I don’t know the principals and only discovered it by accident, when my publicist submitted Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone for review. It is a treasure find, packed with helpful reviews, discussions, articles and tips for audio-book addicts. So if like me, you love to listen to your books as you commute to work, wash the dishes or before you turn in for the night, don’t miss http://audiobookjungle.com.

As luck would have it, audiobookjungle.com did review the first novel of the Stonewiser series and, to my utter delight, found it worthwhile. So here it is, audibookjungle.com’s brand new review of Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, audio-book edition.

Enjoy!

D.

Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone Audiobook Review by Audiojungle.com

Written by Dora Machado, Narrated by Melissa Reizian Frank

Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone by Dora Machado Audiobook Review

Who is the author

Dora Machado, the author of the Stonewiser trilogy is relatively new to the fantasy scene, at least that’s what I gathered from looking her up online. At the time of posting this review she has written four fantasy novels which seem to be well received from the readers. The first book in the Stonewiser trilogy, Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone is the one I read and I’ll certainly be grabbing the next one as soon as possible. It’s really good. No wonder it won the 2009 Benjamin Franklin award for best debut novel.

What does stonewiser mean
The title sounds a little mysterious because the word stonewiser is fictional and you don’t know what to expect until you start reading. I’m usually the type of person who would do minimal or no research regarding a book I’m about to read, as I don’t want to see any spoilers or get my judgment of it’s quality swayed. The problem is that if you do that with authors new to you it takes awhile to get used to their style and get a feel of what the book is going to be about. Dora Machado throws you straight into the action from the first chapter. You immediately learn that stonewisers are gifted people that can imprint stones with information and read it. You also learn that there are some kinds of stones that are not supposed to be wised because The Guild forbids it. That’s good writing right there – you get the essentials right away but you want to know more, right now! :)

What’s the premise of the story?

Find out more at http://audiobookjungle.com/

What I liked

The writing. It’s well crafted, easy to follow and engaging. While the basic skeleton of the story isn’t groundbreaking (a rebellious heroine that kicks ass and changes the world) it has fresh and intriguing bits. I appreciated the occasional dark and gritty scene that surprises you with it’s violence without becoming uncomfortable to read. The characters were vivid and interesting and here’s where the narrator should also get a portion of the credit. Melissa Reizian Frank does an excellent job. I also appreciated that the audiobook didn’t end with a cliffhanger and the ending provided enough closure to even look at The Heart of the Stone as a stand-alone novel. That doesn’t happen a lot these days, especially with fantasy novels.

What I didn’t like
This may seem a little nit-picky but it bothered me noticeably and it’s something I think an editor should have noticed. The use of ‘Meliahs, help/save us’ as an exclamation (Meliahs is the goddess of the sacred stones) was overdone and appeared too often in scenes where the characters were distressed in some way.

Final thoughts
If you’re looking for a fresh and well written fantasy audiobook, Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone is an excellent pick. I hope it gets as much of a following and readers as it deserves.

A Quick Guide to The Stonewiser Series

Get your copy on Audible:

Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone by Dora Machado Audiobook Download

On Amazon:

Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone by Dora Machado Audiobook Review
Written by: Audiobook Jungle
4.95 stars
http://audiobookjungle.com/

My Interview with Karen Swart

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Hi Folks,

Here’s my brand new interview with South African paranormal and urban fantasy author, Karen Swart, where she asked me all kinds of interesting questions, including whether my books had a hidden message. You know what? I had to think about that one.

Enjoy!

D.

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Hi Dora! Did you always wanted to be a writer?

Hi Karen. Yes! I’ve wanted to be a writers since as far back as I can remember.

When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?

Good question! I think I only began to call myself a writer after my first book, Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, was published.

How long did it take to get your first book published?

About a year from beginning to end. It felt like a century!

Do you do another job except for writing?

Not anymore! These days I’m lucky enough to write full time and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in fewer than 20 words what would you say?

My latest book is called The Curse Giver. Twenty words, eh? Why, let’s give the old logline a try: An innocent healer condemned to death must ally with the cursed lord pledged to kill her to defeat the curse giver who has already conjured their ends.

Who is your publisher?

I’m a very lucky gal. The Curse Giver was published by Twilight Times Books, an independent publisher based out of Kingsport, Tennessee, that specializes in publishingcritically acclaimed literary, mystery and SF/F books. A dynamic, top-of-the-line, quality-oriented publisher, TTB has more than 140 titles in the 2013 Spring Catalogue and is the home of a talented and friendly bunch of authors who have enriched my publishing experience. Check out TTB at http://twilighttimesbooks.com/

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?

It takes me about four months, give or take a little. Keep in mind that the time invested is not always consecutive when you are working on a novel. Sometimes I’ll advance one project and then shift to another novel, before going back to complete the first one.

What can we expect from you in the future? More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?

You can expect more stories from me in the future, more dark fantasy romance, a dark contemporary fantasy with a Latin twist, and more about the world of The Curse Giver in its companion novel, The Soul Chaser.

What genre would you place your books into?

The Curse Giver falls into the fantasy genre and fits well in the subcategories of epic fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy romance and romantic fantasy.

What made you decide to write that genre of book?

I’ve always been intrigued by the fantasy genre. I love the genre’s creative freedom, the opportunity to rethink, redesign and reinterpret the human experience, the creative challenges that that arise from world building, and the mysteries that magic brings to the human equation. I grew up in the Dominican Republic and my life always felt kind of magical in many ways. I’ve always straddled different worlds. Fantasy is a perfect fit for me.

Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?

I do. I think it’s a tossup between the main characters, Bren and Lusielle. I’ve always been a sucker for the underdog, the reluctant hero and the tortured soul. In The Curse Giver, Bren, Lord of Laonia, is all of those. He’s got the makings of a hero, but his circumstances make him an outcast and a villain in his own mind. He is weary, bitter and troubled, but he’s also dutiful and determined, and he will not betray his people. As the story begins, he rescues Lusielle from the pyre, but only because he’s hunting a birthmark she bears. To defeat the curse that has obliterated his family and is killing him, he has to murder the woman who bears the birthmark in the foulest possible way. But as he escapes with his prey in tow, she is not what he expected. He faces yet another dismal choice: Can he murder the only woman capable of healing more than his body, his soul?

Lusielle is also one of my favorite characters in The Curse Giver, but for a totally different reason. When the story begins, she’s been betrayed by her greedy husband and condemned to die for a crime she didn’t commit. After years of abuse and slavery, the false accusations destroy her bleak but orderly world. As she flees with the bitter lord who has rescued her, she finds herself in an impossible situation: If she’s going to survive, she must help the mysterious lord who is determined to kill her to defeat the curse giver who has already conjured their ends. What I like most about Lusielle is that she has to change; she has to muster the courage to free herself from her tragic past and find the strength within to thrive in a world she doesn’t understand.

How long have you been writing? And who or what inspired you to write?

I’ve been writing for publication for about seven years now. I’m inspired to write by many people and many experiences, but ultimately, I write because I can’t stop writing. I swear. I’ve tried. I just can’t. My mind is powered by this story generator that keeps on going and won’t quit.

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? Do you listen to music, sit in a certain chair…?

I’m one of those people who prefer to write in silence. I guess my mind is way too noisy as it is! I have a writing studio in my home, a cozy little room that opens up to a veranda that overlooks a beautiful, spring-fed river. It’s quiet and peaceful, and it’s my favorite place to write. I like to sit on my favorite chair, a Scandinavian ergonomic design that offers excellent support for the long hours of writing.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book, then choose the title?

I usually discover the title of my novels at the very moment when I write it for the first time into the story. It can happen early on, during the opening paragraph or late in the process. It’s really neat. It’s always a “wow” moment.

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals such as those in Aesop’s Fables: “The moral of this story is..”)

I don’t strive to preach any kind of morality in my stories, but I do write a lot about conflicting situations, injustice, opposing beliefs, and the meaning of concepts such as truth, faith and prejudice. Sometimes, the storyline leaves me and my readers thinking about things. For example, in The Curse Giver we join with the characters as they discover how reason, knowledge and awareness are the main components of our personal sense of strength. We don’t have to be magical to be strong. We just have to believe in ourselves.

Which format of book do you prefer, e-book, hardback, or paperback?

I’m partial to the indestructible, beach-proof, throw-it-in-your-bag, good old-fashioned paperback. I love the feel of a book between my hands. But I will confess—albeit reluctantly—that my latest e-reader has been growing on me. The idea that I can carry ALL of my favorite books around in my purse is irresistible.

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is your favorite/worst book-to-movie transfer?

I think that books and movies are two different and distinct media. I usually approach them with different expectations. What makes a book great is not the same thing that will work for a movie. The translation is particularly challenging for science fiction and fantasy. There are an awful lot of great SF/F books that have been made into terrible movies. I used to say that I never wanted to see my books made into movies. That is, until I watched George R. Martin’s Game of Thrones on HBO. It might be time to rethink the old prejudices. . . .

Your favorite food is?

Cake. I know. Not a good one. I like carrots too. Does that help?

Your favorite singer/group is?

That would be a long list!

Your favorite color is?

Blue.

Remember to check out today’s spotlight to find out more about Dora and The Curse Giver.

http://authorkarenswart.blogspot.com/

http://authorkarenswart.blogspot.com/2013/10/book-blitz-curse-giver-by-dora-machado.html

A New Review of The Curse Giver

Monday, September 30th, 2013

By

Beverly S. Mcclure

Have you ever felt as though your life has been cursed, that whatever can go wrong will?

Perhaps you’re right.

What if there is such a thing/person/whatever that casts curses on a person or even a whole nation?

A scary thought, right? It may just be possible.

Award Winning Author Dora Machado’s latest fantasy novel, THE CURSE GIVER, deals with curses, betrayal, trust, family loyalty, and love. Lusielle, on the brink of death by being burned alive because her husband turned her in as a practitioner of forbidden arts, is rescued by Lord Brennus, a highborn. He has ulterior motives for saving her life, however. Lord Bren (Brennus) has been cursed to die a horrible death. To save himself and his people he must find the woman with a special birthmark and kill her. Lusielle has that mark, and she also may be the only one who can defeat the curse giver and give Bren hope.

The author has created characters with good points and bad, like real people. They seem realistic for the time period they live in. Lusielle faces her uncertain future with bravery and cunning, surprising Bren more than once. I found myself hoping that Bren would change his mind about killing her. No, I’m not saying what happens between them. You’ll find out when you read the book. Minor characters, and there are a lot of them, add to the suspense and conflict of the story, making the reader, this reader anyway, anticipate their next actions. Thankfully, the author provides a glossary at the end to help keep track of the characters.

THE CURSE GIVER should appeal to fantasy lovers and to readers that enjoy a battle or two with swords swishing. And for those that like a good romance, you might just find it here. Dora Machado has written another winner, so pick up a copy or add one to your eReader and spend the evening, lost in another world.

http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-curse-giver-review.html

CurseGiver_Front Cover Final

The Curse Giver on Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/13oVu2P

****

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books, July 2013. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats.

To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com or contact her at Dora@doramachado.com.

For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit  http://twilighttimesbooks.comthingsTheCurseGiver_ch1.html.

Subscribe to her blog at http://www.doramachado.com/blog/

Sign up for her newsletter at http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php,

Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

The Making of an Audiobook

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

An Interview with Melissa Reizian

One of the best voice actresses in the business tells us how she chooses her projects and why writing for speech is at the heart of successful storytelling

by

Dora Machado

When I started this great adventure of writing, I never dreamed my novels would be published, let alone made into audiobooks. From the first time I typed “The End” at the bottom of a manuscript, to the first time I held each of my books in my hands, every step of this voyage has been filled with lots of emotions and incredible joy. I didn’t expect any less when we embarked in the new adventure of making the Stonewiser series available in audiobook, but I have to say: As an author, listening to the professional narration of Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone has been one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had.

Once the decision was made to create the audiobook, it was an incredible journey. Following the advice that my friend and fellow TTB author, Aaron Paul Lazar, gave in his award-winning Murder by 4 blog,  http://bit.ly/157aX8H, I approached the Stonewiser series’ publisher with the idea. From there on, it went really fast. ACX was contacted. Voice auditions were held. I stepped into a new world where voices became characters and characters developed their own voices. I learned about pitch, tone and accents. I listened in wonder as actors bid to tell the story. None was more gifted than the talented Melissa Reizian. And thus she became my heroine’s enduring voice.

Intrigued by her world, I talked to Melissa Reizian about the process of creating an audiobook, her project selection criteria, and her best advice for writers who want their books to become audiobooks. I also talked to her about her voice’s magical ability to tell a wonderful story and turn a book into a magnificent listening experience.

Welcome, Melissa. Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog today. Can you tell us how you first became interested in narrating books?

I have been a full-time voice actor for more than 13 years. Before that, I was a television news reporter/anchor/producer/videographer—a “one-woman band,” we used to call it—and during that time, people always commented on my voice and my delivery. I have always had a “storytelling” kind of voice. I quit the news business when my oldest son was a few years old so I could spend more time with him (and now my two other sons as well!). For the first decade, I focused on commercials, e-learning training voiceovers, and other types of narration. I had a client who presented the opportunity to start auditioning for audiobooks and I jumped on it! Since then, I’ve narrated more than a dozen audiobooks. I feel this is the part of the job I’m most passionate about…and get the biggest sense of pride and reward from doing. It allows me to utilize my acting skills, bringing characters to life, either with fun accents and dialects, or just with intonation and the delivery of the read. I remember my oldest son, Jarod, looking up at me with big, incredulous eyes one night as I was reading the Disney novelization of Treasure Planet to him. I was doing the cat-captain’s voice with a British accent, and he just stared up at me and said, “You can BE HER?” I was hooked!

For those of us who are not familiar with the steps involved in creating an audiobook, can you tell us a little bit about the process?

First, you should always read the book you’re narrating. You would then research any foreign accents or dialects you need to learn.…I usually find other voice actors who are native speakers of that language and ask them to read some of the lines for me.…I’m a good mimic, so that usually is all it takes. If you don’t know what’s coming up in the book, and you are suddenly faced with, “…he said, with his thick Scottish brogue” (which HAS happened to me!), you are in a bit of trouble if you can’t pull it off! (I was told by a native speaker that my first attempt at an Irish accent in a recent romance novel sounded like a “Canadian vampire.” Not sure how he knew what a Canadian vampire sounded like…but I did work on it until it was right!)

I also ask the author his or her intention for any of the characters.…Sometimes we learn something important about a main character in book two of a series, so knowing that she will become a fae, for example, is helpful in giving her lines the appropriate interpretation in book one. As I read, and decide how the characters will sound…accent, rate of speech, confidence, volume, etc.…I record snippets of their lines on my iPhone. Then I refer to this as I go, because sometimes a character is off canvas for a good bit of the book and you forget what he sounds like.

After I record, I edit out any mistakes I’ve made and edit out the dogs barking at the mailman, the neighbor’s lawnmower, the kids running down the hall like a herd of elephants, etc.! I also adjust the length of pauses to make the narrative and dialogue flow appropriately. This is one of the most, if not the most important parts of the process. You may have heard someone read and leave too short or too long of a space between lines. It totally takes you out of the story! Timing is the difference between being immersed in the story and “judging the book.”

How do you select your projects, and what are the elements that make a novel well-suited for narration?

It might seem obvious that it is much easier to do a great job on a book that you actually like! I can attest from personal experience that that is true. For example, with Stonewiser: the Heart of the Stone, I found myself wanting to get back to it to keep Sariah’s story going…. It’s exciting to bring the story to life. There was one book I did—that I did not choose, but rather was assigned—that was horribly written. It made me wonder how it even got published…and it was really, really hard to finish. I found myself making excuses not to get back in the booth with it. So now, I have completely learned my lesson, and only audition for books once I’ve researched them. I look at comments and reviews on Amazon and GoodReads. I also look at the subject matter. I’m certainly not opposed to some story-propelling steamy scenes, but gratuitous, extreme sex is not my bag…because frankly, I have to consider the impact it would have on my boys if they were to hear it, or hear ABOUT it from their friends!  I especially love narrating books that are written in first person (Sorry, Dora! J) because you get to do a “character” the whole time. But just a book that has strong, well-written characters with a story that moves is great. Pretty much the same things you’d look for in choosing a book to READ is what I look for when picking a book to NARRATE. You are spending about 40-50 hours with a 10-hour book from research to mastering, so you better love it!

Why did you choose to work on Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone?

I love fantasy as a genre. I got started really voraciously reading, as a kid, with Piers Anthony’s Xanth series. The idea that there is a whole other world with its own set of rules is just cool. And when it’s a story about real people living in that world, it’s a great escape from reality. Like in your case, Dora, you created this whole other universe that is totally believable because you are careful to maintain all the “rules” you established and write your characters true to themselves.

What was the most challenging part of this project?

Actually, figuring out what the characters should sound like was a challenge. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but suffice it to say that there are mysteries revealed as the story develops and all is not what it seems! As these secrets come to light, it becomes a little harder to justify what everyone should sound like. We actually went back and changed some characters’ accents after getting quite far into the book!

What was your favorite part of this project?

I loved the confrontational scenes between Sariah and…well, just about everyone! The girl doesn’t exactly have the easiest time of it! But performing and editing a really strong “acting” scene is very rewarding for me. Also, Dora, your descriptions are just phenomenal! You can “see” what you are writing happen in your head, and I really hope that readers get that from my narration when they listen to it!

What kind of readers do you think might enjoy listening to Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone?

People who love the fantasy genre—or sci-fi—will love it. But I would think this would even be enjoyable to someone who does not label themselves as “fantasy fans” because, when you come right down to it, this is a love story and a story of survival, self-awakening, and liberation. There are powerful messages in this book, as it challenges our notions of one’s “place in society,” the idea that we think we know everything about our enemies, and, to paraphrase my favorite Vulcan, “the needs of the one over the needs of the many.”

What would be your best advice for authors seeking to make their novels into audiobooks?

Write for speech! Nothing is more frustrating that narrating a book and realizing that no one would actually speak that way! Make your characters distinct and well-defined. This gives the narrator a good basis to make acting and voicing choices and helps the listener believe they are real.

I’d like to add that I can’t wait for people to get the chance to experience the audio version of Stonewiser: the Heart of the Stone. You can listen to a free sample at: http://bit.ly/18rUjkS. I really hope you’ll take the time to leave feedback (well, unless you don’t like it! J). I’ve gotta get going now and get back to reading part two—Stonewiser: the Call of the Stone!

Melissa, thank you very much for being my guest today and special thanks for all the hard work and passion that you put into giving voice to Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone.

Thank you so much!

****

Stonewiser The Heart of the Stone Audible

Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone, the Audible edition, is now available at: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Stonewiser-Audiobook/B00F52CJIY/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1379186069&sr=1-1

And on Amazon at:

http://www.amazon.com/Stonewiser-Heart-Stone-ebook/dp/B001F7ATEO/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379351789&sr=1-1&keywords=stonewiser+the+heart+of+the+stone

Contact Melissa Reizian at her website www.YouChoiceVoice.com or email her at Melissa@YourChoiceVoice.com.

About Dora Machado

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books, July 2013. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats. To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com or contact her at Dora@doramachado.com. For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit  http://twilighttimesbooks.com/TheCurseGiver_ch1.html.

Subscribe to her blog at http://www.doramachado.com/blog/, sign up for her at newsletter at http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php,

Facebook and Twitter.

Website: http://www.doramachado.com/

Email: Dora@doramachado.com

Blog: http://www.doramachado.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DoraMachado101

Twitter: @DoraMachado or https://twitter.com/DoraMachado

Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/doramachado


How Fantasy Loves Romance and Romance Loves Fantasy

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

by

Dora Machado

People ask me all the time why I chose to write romantic fantasy. The short answer is that I can’t envision writing one without the other. The long answer might be a little more complex. The union of fantasy and romance is a marriage of convenience. The genres complement, enhance and enrich each other. Beyond that, romance and fantasy are the Yin and the Yang, ebony and ivory, Billy Joel and Elton John. They belong together.

I love writing epic fantasy. Fantasy is a subversive genre, requiring the mind to bend and the imagination to flex, perfectly suited for me. I love the genre’s creative freedom, the opportunity to rethink, redesign and reinterpret the human experience in fresh and diverse settings, and the mysteries that magic brings to the human equation. But fantasy without romance is like lemonade without lemons–blah, tasteless, inert. Add a voluptuous romance to a well-crafted fantasy and POW! Now you’ve got a story with grit.

This is exactly what I’ve tried to do in all of my books, and my latest novel, The Curse Giver from Twilight Times Books, is no exception. The Curse Giver is about an innocent healer named Lusielle, who is betrayed and condemned to die for a crime she didn’t commit. When she’s about to be executed, Lusielle is rescued from the pyre by an embittered lord doomed by a mysterious curse. You might think that Bren, Lord of Laonia, is Lusielle’s savior, but he isn’t. On the contrary, Bren is pledged to kill Lusielle, because her murder is his people’s only chance at salvation.

The curse tormenting the Lord of Laonia is at the action crux of the story, but it’s really the relationship between Bren and Lusielle that gives meaning to this grand adventure. The gradual transformation of enemies into allies, the clash of conflicted hearts and the forbidden passion that blooms between them, balance the action, deepen the story, and imbue the tale with a sense of gritty realism. This is the part that makes the reader care and the writer write. This is the part that gives me goose bumps. As Lusielle and Bren prepare to challenge the curse giver who has already conjured their ends, they must find the magic within, the inner strength to save not just themselves, but each other. In the end, romance lends fantasy the concept of affection, and affection turns out to be the most powerful magic of all.

In my fantasy novels, romance is not just a component of the story; it is the heart of the story. In my view, romance enhances fantasy by connecting the story to the experience of love, personal struggle and acceptance. Without this connection, fantasy loses balance, meaning, focus, depth and perspective. The stories I want to tell are lush, vivid, passionate and exuberant. I can’t imagine telling them without a sizzling romance sprouting right in the middle of it all to make a mess of things. At the end of the day, that might very well be why I chose to write romantic fantasy. I like to make a mess of things and romantic fantasy is as much fun to read as it is to write.


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Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/13oVu2P

Dora Machado is the award-winning author of the epic fantasy Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, available from Twilight Times Books. She grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a fascination for writing and a taste for Merengue. After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She lives in Florida with her husband and three very opinionated cats. To learn more about Dora Machado and her novels, visit her website at www.doramachado.com or contact her at Dora@doramachado.com.

For a free excerpt of The Curse Giver, visit  http://twilighttimesbooks.com/TheCurseGiver_ch1.html.

Subscribe to Dora’s blog at http://www.doramachado.com/blog/.

Sign up for Dora’s at newsletter at http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php,

Facebook and Twitter.

Watch The Curse Giver‘s Book Trailer at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv8WFYpdqQo&feature=youtu.be&noredirect=1

Author Links:

Website: http://www.doramachado.com/

Email: Dora@doramachado.com

Blog: http://www.doramachado.com/blog/

Newsletter: http://doramachado.com/newsletter.php,

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DoraMachado101

Twitter: @DoraMachado or https://twitter.com/DoraMachado

Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/doramachado

A Review of The Curse Giver by Bibliotica.com

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Here is a new, unique and delicious review of The Curse Giver by Bibliotica.com. And to think that sharp cheddar cheese is my absolute favorite….

Enjoy!

D.

It’s been a while since I’ve read any real fantasy. I mean, yes, I’m slowly working my way through George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, but that world is reasonably similar to our own medieval history, with only a few ‘fantastic’ elements. I was in the mood for escapist reading this summer, however, so when the nice folks and Pump Up Your Book offered me the chance to read an epic fantasy novel, I jumped at the chance.

The problem with epic fantasy is that very often the fictional world feels as flat as a movie set, with no real depth or history. Dora Machado’s The Curse Giver, on the other hand, plunges us into a world so rich, and so well constructed, it feels almost as if we could step sideways into it. One of the early sections, particularly, when Lousielle and Bren are crossing the bog, had me squirming as much as if I was actually there with them avoiding creepy crawlies.

Her main characters are three dimensional, and Lousielle especially, was so smart and spunky that I wanted to be her best friend. Herb lore is something I’ve always been quietly interested in (witness the collection of herbals in my Word Lounge), so her affinity for plants and potions really drew me in.

Likewise, while Bren could have been Generic Quasi-medieval Noble #17, Machado made him complex and interesting (and gave him a great body, which we appreciate vicariously through Lousielle).

The other characters, good and evil alike, were, similarly, sketched with fine lines, not the broad strokes of generic fantasy.

I’ve read that Ms. Machado is bilingual, having grown up in the Dominican Republic, and I think some of the charm of The Curse Givercomes from her – probably unconscious – Spanish-influenced rhythms. It’s nothing you could point your finger to and say, “Look, that’s not typical English phrasing,” but a quiet undercurrent that makes the writing really SING.

(I am not bilingual, but I grew up in a New Jersey Neapolitan family where an Italian-English hybrid was the norm. As well, I’m a natural mimic, and my parents retired to Baja Sur, Mexico, about a decade ago, so those Latin-tinged rhythms are familiar to me.)

Overall, I thought The Curse Giver was a delicious read, and it’s compelled me to seek out more of Machado’s work. I think it’s an especially good choice for women who like epic fantasy, but have gotten out of the habit of reading it.

Goes well with… a mug of steaming chai and sharp cheddar melted on toasted rustic wheat bread.

http://www.bibliotica.com/2013/09/review-the-curse-giver-by-dora-machado/

The Curse Giver from Amazon


Dora Machado’s Stonewiser award-winning fantasy trilogy to be available FREE on Kindle

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Dear Romantic Fantasy Fans,

Mark your calendars!

For the first time ever and for a limited time, Dora Machado’s entire Stonewiser award-winning fantasy trilogy, published by Mermaid Press, will be available FREE on Kindle.

WHEN? THIS WEEKEND!

From Saturday August 31 to Monday September 2

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Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Stonewiser%3A%20The%20Heart%20of%20the%20Stone

Winner of the 2009 Benjamin Franklin Award for best Debut Novel

Finalist for 2009 Foreword Book of the Year Award for SFF

Between truth and deception, between justice and abuse, a stonewiser stands alone with the stones. Or so begins the stonewiser’s oath. But what happens when a rebellious stonewiser discovers that lies have tainted the stone tales?

In a world devastated by the rot’s widespread destruction, only the tales preserved in the stones can uphold the truth and defend the Goodlands. In this world, stone truth is valued above anyone’s word, and stonewisers are the only ones capable of retrieving the tales from the stones, the only link between past and present, order and chaos.

Sariah is the most gifted stonewiser of her generation, but her talent does not atone for her shortcomings. A survivor of the Guild’s brutal training, she is curious, willful and disobedient. Yet not even Sariah is prepared for what she finds when she steals into the Guild’s Sacred Vaults: A mayhem of lies and intrigues that shatters her world.

Hunted, persecuted, and betrayed, Sariah must make an unlikely alliance with Kael, a cynical rebel leader pledged to a mysterious quest of his own. The fate of their dying world depends on their courage to overcome centuries of hatred and distrust. But not even the grueling journey has prepared them for what they are about to discover. Because nothing is really as it seems, and the truth is more intricate and devastating than they ever suspected….

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9780979968242 (2)Stonewiser: The Call of the Stone

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Stonewiser%3A+The+Call+of+the+Stone&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3AStonewiser%3A+The+Call+of+the+Stone

Winner of the 2010 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Gold Medal for SF/F

Finalist for the 2010 ForeWord Book of the Year Award for SF/F

Sariah’s reward for revealing the stone truth: a death sentence.

The executioners have arrived and Sariah, the most powerful and controversial stonewiser of her generation, has been judged and condemned to death. For the last few months, Sariah has been hiding in the Rotten Domain, trying to find the elusive tale capable of uniting a divided people teetering on the brink of a catastrophic war. As she is dragged to the nets, where an eel rave has been stirred to maximize her execution’s gruesome spectacle, Sariah knows she cannot escape her sentence. She is guilty of the crimes for which she’s been condemned and no one, not even Kael, the Domain’s foremost rebel leader, can save her from the executioners’ righteous justice.

But Kael is more than just a formidable warrior; he is also a cunning strategist and Sariah’s steadfast lover. Risking all he has, he bargains with the greedy executioners, bribing them into delaying Sariah’s execution, buying her precious time and a last chance to realize the mysterious legacy that the stones have imposed on her. The agreement is hardly a reprieve. It encourages a mob to hunt Sariah for ransom, banishing her from the Rotten Domain and imposing heavy fines on anyone who tries to help her. Worse, it requires her to wear an irremovable, mysterious bracelet. If she doesn’t return to the executioners with the tale in hand when the allotted time expires, Kael and his kin will be ruined and the bracelet will kill her.

Hunted by the executioners, the Guild and the Shield, Sariah and Kael embark on a desperate search. Their journey will take them to the depths of the Rotten Domain, where Sariah must wise a guiding beam out of the wild tale stored in a stone-carved game. The beam will lead them through the warring Goodlands—where the rot is on the move—to the land beyond the Bastions, where a zealous people guard an ancient stone that could hold the key to their search. Along the way, Sariah and Kael must overcome deadly traps, torture, heartbreak, agonizing defeat and devastating losses in a desperate attempt to avoid war and answer the mysterious call of the stone.

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9780979968259Stonewiser: The Lament of the Stone

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Stonewiser%3A+The+Lament+of+the+Stone&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3AStonewiser%3A+The+Lament+of+the+Stone

Winner of the 2012 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Silver Medal for SF/F

Finalist for the 2012 ForeWord Book of the Year Award for SF/F

“Do you know why the stones grieve?” the woman said to Kael. “Not for a soul, I’ll tell you that much. The stones don’t grieve for the passing of a lowly woman or the madness of a smitten man. They don’t mourn death, or lost love, or broken dreams, or loneliness or despair. Yet you will make them wail. For you, the stones will weep.”

In their most perilous adventure yet, Sariah, the rogue stonewiser who stunned the world by discovering lies in the stones and defying the all-powerful Guild, and Kael, the rebel leader who against all odds loves her, must find a stolen child, the only one capable of setting rule upon chaos, preserving the future of stonewising, and defeating the rot ravaging the land. The stakes couldn’t be higher. The coveted child they seek is said to be an abomination. He is also their son.

It’s a daunting challenge. Their child is in the hands of a deceitful enemy who has fled to a mysterious ruler, a rival deity with unfathomable powers pledged to destroy the goddess and eradicate stonewising from the world. Worse yet, the land is engulfed in strife, the rot is spreading faster than ever, and Kael is haunted by a malevolent curse compelling him to kill the woman he loves.

In a dangerous journey fraught with shocking twists, Sariah and Kael must do more than defeat their foes, unravel the mystifying forces vying to control their lives, and discover the mysteries of ages past. They must challenge the stones, defy the goddess and confront their cursed fates. Because only by embracing their destinies do they stand a chance to save their child and their world.

For those of you audio book lovers, the first book in the series, Stonewiser: The Heart of the Stone is now available from Audible. Be sure to check it out!

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Dora Tapestry 1 June 2013 (480x640)About Dora Machado

Dora Machado is the award winning author of the Stonewiser series and her newest novel, The Curse Giver, from Twilight Times Books, available July 2013. She is one of the few Latinas exploring her heritage and her world through the epic fantasy genre today. She holds a master’s degree in business administration and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Georgetown University. She was born in Michigan and grew up in the Dominican Republic, where she developed a bilingual fascination for writing, a love for history, and a taste for Merengue.

After a lifetime of straddling such compelling but different worlds, fantasy is a natural fit to her stories. She enjoys long walks, traveling, and connecting with the amazing readers who share in her mind’s adventures. She lives in Florida with her indulging husband and three very opinionated cats. Visit her at www.DoraMachado.com.