The Hands We’re Given

Audiobook Tour: The Hands We’re Given by O.E. Tearmann

Author: O.E. Tearmann

Narrator: Kirt Graves

Length: 13 hours and 16 minutes

Series: Aces High, Jokers Wild, Book 1

Publisher: Amphibian Press

Released: Jun. 28, 2019

Genre: Technothriller; Cyberpunk; LGBT

Sex. Drones. Rock and roll. Aidan Headly never wanted to be the man giving orders. That’s fine with the Democratic State Force base he’s been assigned to command: they don’t like to take orders. Nicknamed the Wildcards, they used to be the most effective base against the seven Corporations owning the former United States in a war that has lasted over half a century. Now the Wildcards are known for creative insubordination, chaos, and commanders begging to be reassigned. Aidan is their last chance. If he can pull off his assignment as Commander and yank his ragtag crew of dreamers and fighters together, maybe they can get back to doing what they came to do: fighting for a country worth living in. Life’s a bitch. She deals off the bottom of the deck. But you play the hands you’re given.
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O.E. Tearmann lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, in what may become the Co-Wy Grid. They share the house with a brat in fur, a husband and a great many books. Their search engine history may garner them a call from the FBI one day. When they’re not living on base 1407 they advocate for a more equitable society and more sustainable agricultural practices, participate in sundry geekdom and do their best to walk their characters’ talk.
Narrator Bio Kirt Graves has 20+ years of experience as a stage actor & vocal performer. His first audiobook was featured as an Audible Five-Star Fave.
  I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by O.E. Tearmann. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it. Top 10 List
O.E. Tearmann’s Ten Reasons To Listen To This Book
  • Listen because Kirt Graves absolutely rocks. No, I mean it. As a narrator, Kirt has done a fantastic job of nailing everything from the somewhat shifting voice of Aidan, a trans man, to Janice, a former agricultural worker whose scathing drawl can skin a donkey. He nailed the voice of a tiny woman with a stutter, a baby and a ten-year old. And they were all absolutely perfect.
  • Listening to this book will give you hope. It was begun as a response to the disheartened apathy of 2016. It felt as if everyone was assuming that we were going downhill, and that the erosion of America was inevitable.
    • Okay, fine. Then let’s write the darkest incarnation of America we can envision if the country continues down this road. And then let’s write characters who take care of one another, fall in love, and laugh in spite of it.
    • That’s the Wildcards: an eighteen-man unit in a force fighting to overthrow the Corporations that run America and restore democracy to the country. They are fighters. They are dreamers. They are a family. And they are going to kick the world’s ass together.
  • Listen for the laughs
    • One of my influences for this series was the classic show MASH 4077, and I’ve drawn on it as a reminder that humor helps people survive dark times. The Wildcards are very smart, sometimes bored, and always up for a laugh. On this base, there are puns. There’s pranks. There’s overwriting one another’s personnel files to make jokes. There’s innuendo and a betting pool on who’s going to fall in love with who. There is some of the funniest cursing you’ve ever heard.
  • Listen for a love story you don’t see every day.
    • As Aidan and Kevin perform a slow and sometimes awkward courtship, they trip and stumble more than once. But they also work to understand and support one another. They both act with compassion. And they give each other the gifts of their truths. This highly inclusive LGBT story showcases romance between people who society too often ignores. These stories are worthy of being heard.
  • Listen for the sex.
    • Oh, yes. There is sex. Very fun, very queer sex.
  • Listen for the drones.
    • Things get pretty crazy in this climate changed version of Colorado. If dodging attack drones and stealing shipments from Corporate overlords is your thing, this is your book.
  • Listen for the rock and roll
    • Kevin is a hopeless history geek. Living in 2155, he adores the 1980s. Get ready for screwy references and hollered Bon Jovi lyrics.
  • Listen for a different kind of hero, and a different kind of leadership.
    • Aidan isn’t the leader you expect. He’s quiet. Self effacing. He doesn’t give many orders, and he doesn’t do much shouting. But his quiet presence draws his people into the tight knit unit that they need to be, and his kind of leadership showcases a different, less harmful way to be a leader.
  • Listen to the warning of America’s future
    • Between climate change, the for-profit nature of American society and the mind-numbingly pervasive ads on the city Grids, the version of America in these books is not a fun place to live. How it ended up there is discussed. I wrote this as a warning. Let’s not end up there.
  • Listen to the dreams
    • This world may be grim, but it lays out a path forward that we can follow. Together, we can rise. Let ‘The Hands We’re Given’ prove it to you.
Guest Post
Genetic Testing
Genetic testing. Gene tailoring. Helping humanity. Or…not? Genetic tinkering is something I play with entirely too much in The Hands We’re Given and its sequels in the Aces High, Jokers Wild series. The possibilities of gene tailoring sound great…until you realize that every genetic flaw will become a moral failing. When perfect becomes possible, imperfect becomes criminal. We see it already: I’ve caught myself thinking ‘wow…didn’t your parents care about that?’ when I see an adult with crooked teeth. We extoll clear skin and lustrous hair. Thousands of trees have died for magazines that tell us that we just have to drink more water, exercise, and eat our vegetables to get smooth skin…they don’t talk about how much money the ladies on their covers spend to get it, though. We confuse moral worth with physical perfection. And in an era when genes can be edited, that may get a lot worse. Those who can’t afford or don’t want to improve their children will be listed as criminally negligent. And you have to wonder what it’ll do to our sense of humanity. Well, some people have to wonder. I have to write   In The Hands We’re Given, I’ve loved playing with the power, the costs and the downfalls of genomic tailoring. In 2155, drugs are tailored to your personal genome, which improves their effectiveness many times over. But your genome is also used against you. For example, the medical Cavanaugh Corporation, which has publicly stated that its aim is to perfect humanity. Genetic ‘aberration’ is treated as a punishable offense by Corporation-contracted workers: after all, they’re removing future profits by producing children that will have lower productivity. ‘Aberrant’ children with preventable genetic issues (and the list of preventable issues is very, very long) are listed as cases of neglect. Babies born ‘aberrant’ to mothers who could not afford gene optimizing are removed from the home, under the Aberrant Progeny Policy. For the company’s upper management, gene optimizing is compulsory. I explore these issues in writing the character of Kevin McIllian. Kevin was born into a family belonging to the upper echelons of Cavanaugh’s management structure, and his genome was designed to the specifications of a Corporate board. His brain chemistry and function should have been optimized in vitro as well, but his parents bribed the technicians to leave his mind alone. He treasures the flaws he bears as a result of the incomplete optimization. They’re his only proof that he is still human; that he still has free will and his own choices to make. He hates the fact that he was designed to meet the standards of a Corporate blueprint. He proudly calls himself ‘aberrant’, and wears the glasses that show off the fact that he’s nearsighted as a small, daily gesture of defiance. He detests the fact that he’s been manipulated since he was conceived by a Corporation that intended to use him. That anger acts as a fuel, pushing him on. And then, of course, we get into the fact that every technology has some mistakes. What legacy will the first genomic experiments leave? Will we get children who are genetically perfect in our first trials? Or will they appear perfect until they begin to have children of their own, and spliced genes begin to mix into the germ lines in unexpected ways? But on the flip side, if we could remove Cri-du-Chat, Parkinson’s, and bad teeth from the gene pool, shouldn’t we? Is refusing to remove a gene for cerebral palsy or cystic fibrosis tomorrow any different from refusing to vaccinate a kid today? Gene editing is a fascinating and terrifying area to look into, because it walks a fine line: on the one hand, the prevention or removal of preventable suffering. On the other hand, the pathologizing of untold numbers of issues. What will end up on the list of ‘preventable genetic disorders’. That’s my greatest question. And, perhaps, my area of most intense interest as a writer. The morally grey area of whether we should genetically modify our children or not can be seen as three intersecting planes. Let’s call Plane 1 the Access Plane. Who has access to these changes? Who is compelled to be changed? I think in our popular imagination we see the “designer baby” trope played out: class and social power are linked to genetic alteration.On the other side of the coin, we see lower class colonists genetically adjusted for their new worlds in the Spin State novels. In my book, poor countries were incentivised to have their children tailored in order to require less food and water. Plane Two, we’ll call the Biological Politics plane. Who gets to determine what needs changing? Is it a democratic choice? Is there a bureaucracy? Is there state intervention when there is a perceived danger to a society? And what’s the danger, exactly? We already see some of these issues around the world. For instance: what do you do in a country that wants more boy children than girls? And what do you call a ‘disease?’ In Russia, being gay’s on that list. If we start getting involved before the children of the future draw their first breaths, things could get…unpleasant. Plane Three is the Plane of Consequences. Beyond looking at the implications of such societies, what are we saying as creators/fans/curators of speculative fiction when we engage with the idea that things like sex/gender/orientation are things that can be tinkered with using genetic technology? Today, academic and medical institutions usually act in ways that perpetuate our current structures of power. It’s the water they swim in. If people could change genomes in the future to suit ‘society’, would they genetically manipulate the population to make sure that men are more intelligent than women? Will they unravel and then erase the genetic triggers for stepping out of the gender binary? And what would that make us, as people? As a writer, it’s my job to ask these questions. I need to hold a mirror up to our society and ask it to look itself in the eye. Like so many things, I don’t want us to label this technology as wholly evil, as writers. Let’s not get out the tar-and-feather kit, as people are already doing for GMO crops. But let’s use our writing to remind people, again: scientific techniques are amoral. They arrive in a box labeled ‘ethics not included’. We have to supply those. Let’s use writing to remind our readers that we must use gene-tailoring tech with the greatest possible breadth of fully experienced life and the least harm as the goals. We don’t need humanity to be perfect. We need it to be as human as possible. Right now I’m working on Book 3 in the series, tentatively titled ‘Raise the Stakes’ and scheduled for a July release. In that book, two of our genetically modified characters face what it means to be what they are. If this sounds like the kind of rabbit hole you’d like to dive down, come hang out at @wildcards1407 on Facebook or follow me on Amazon at Giveaway
Giveaway: Writer’s Tears whiskey with signed set of books
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The Immortal Archives

Audiobook Series Tour: The Immortal Archives by Devin Hanson

Author: Devin Hanson

Narrator: Rhett Samuel Price

Series: The Immortal Archives, Book 1

Length: 11 hours 50 minutes

Publisher: Devin Hanson

Released: Jan. 12, 2018

Genre: Technothriller

For Amazon best-selling author Devin Hanson, the question is not how to achieve immortality, the question is what happens when we do? Throughout the entirety of history, humanity has fought against sickness, old age, frailty, even death itself hoping for eternal life. Countless legends and stories share the same hunt: extend our lifetimes beyond the impossibly brief moment we have. Hanson imagines life beyond those legends and stories – a solar system where humanity has discovered the secret to immortal life, at an extreme cost. What horrors await a society that rests an economy on the most scarce resource man has ever known – eternal life? Join The December Protocol in following three characters uniquely affected by the most amazing technological change humanity has ever experienced. Min, an ageless Earth-born marshal older than the very Martian colonies he fights to enforce a brittle and bleak law upon. Angeline, a young girl terrified by the social and scientific necessities prompted by the promise of eternal life. Marcus, a man brought to his knees by that emperor of all maladies, cancer, willing to pay the ultimate price for perfect health through immortality. The December Protocol rockets the listener into the late 24th century and raises thrilling questions about how far mankind would go to preserve the most precious gift we’ve ever received: immortality.
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Devin Hanson (1983-present) was born in Beaverton, Oregon. After a childhood spent programming computers and playing Dungeons and Dragons, Devin’s career took a random turn to counseling. It was during his years as a counselor that he developed his insight into the human condition and renewed his interest in writing. Currently, Devin works as a web developer, spending his free time creating tales of fantasy and science fiction. Devin has recently escaped Los Angeles and has moved down to San Diego.
Narrator Bio After a long career in law enforcement, Rhett switched gears and applied his vocal talents (not to mention the manners and voices of thousands of people he met including celebrities, state and federal dignitaries, numerous presidents and foreign heads of state) into becoming a versatile and notable audiobook narrator. He has honed his acting skills through workshops with Steven Tobolowsky, Willie Garson, VO Peeps’ Anne Ganguzza and Kalmenson & Kalmenson Casting Agency in Burbank, CA. His audiobook skills have been sharpened through workshops and seminars with Scott Brick, Jeffrey Kafer, PJ Ochlan, Hillary Huber, and Sean Allen Pratt. Rhett’s has been favorably reviewed by Audiofile Magazine for his work on “The Blood of Emmett Till”. He is noted for his smooth calm, consistent delivery that is easygoing and relaxing to listen to over a long period of time.
  I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Rhett Samuel Price. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Q&A with Narrator Rhett Samuel Price
  • When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
    • From the very first story I told around a campfire at my childhood best friend’s home. I loved recounting the tale of “The Chicken Heart that ate Cincinnati.” Although I took a slight detour in another life profession, I also knew I would return to telling stories.
  • How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
    • I took an audiobook narration course with Patrick Fraley and guest instructor Scott Brick. I had been working with Pat on doing commercial VO work and he suggested audiobooks. From taking that class, I received my first offer to produce my first audiobook.
  • A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
    • No, I don’t think you need a background in theatre, but you do need a passion for learning the fine art/craft of acting. Anyone can read a book. And that’s what it will sound like, someone just reading. But to bring an audiobook to life, learning how to act and constantly honing that talent is essential.
  • What type of training have you undergone?
    • I was fortunate in my former career to have been an on-air traffic reporter for KABC-TV, channel 7, Los Angeles, and numerous radio stations throughout southern California. I had no teleprompter and often had to go live with realtime events and provide a narrative or story of what was happening. To help with this, I took classes with Kalmenson and Kalmenson, Nancy Wolfson and Pat Fraley. I also took acting classes with Willie Garson and Stehen Tobolowsky. For audiobooks I trained with Pat Fraley, Scott Brick, Sean Allen Pratt and Paul Allen Ruben.
  • What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?
    • A wonderfully edited book. A poorly edited book.
  • What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
    • The initial description of a society living on mars caught my eye. But when I read the audition, the first paragraph sucked me into the story and I could wait to read more. Devin does such a beautiful job of providing rich characters and worlds, you can’t help but want to follow their story.
  • How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
    • I didn’t have to decide. Devin provided everything needed in the text and they spoke to me form the page.
  • Has anyone ever recognized you from your voice?
    • Yes. All the time. Even more so when I was on-air. People would give me odd looks, but if I spoke to someone and they could hear me, I would get, “Hey! You’re that guy ….” I have a few audiobook fans who say they would recognize my voice anywhere.
  • How does audiobook narration differ from other types of voiceover work you’ve done?
    • Audiobook narration is a long haul. You are not with the listener for 15, 30 or 60 seconds. You are with a listener for hours at a time. You have a much more intimate relationship with them, and sometimes, you maybe the only one there when they might be going through a troubling time in life. You are providing the listener with an escape from reality by staging a play just for them.
  • Bonus question: Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?
    • Yes. It’s about my favorite director. Max. Max was my 13 year old Shitzu poodle. (He passed away just last year.) He was with me from the very start and would lay down underneath my table in the studio by my feet while I was recording. Now, what made Max my favorite director? Well, while recording, if I was doing well, rhythm was correct, accents were on spec, pacing was right, I could record, and record, and not hear a sound from him. But as soon as something went wrong, I would hear this loud snoring coming from under the table. I mean loud! At first, I thought he was just falling asleep (in reality he was, I was boring him to death) but then I realized it was his way of telling me, “Hey! You’re not reading it right, get a clue!” And you know what, when I would go back and listen to the passage where he started snoring, Max was always 100% right!
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Michael Ridding

Audiobook Tour: Michael Ridding by S.T. Hoover

Author: S.T. Hoover

Narrator: Chris Abell

Length: 5 hours and 54 minutes

Series: A DenCom Thriller, Volume 1

Publisher: Project 89 Media

Released: Apr. 2, 2018

Genre: Technothriller

In Southern California, three terrorists of unknown allegiances slaughter dozens of men at a shopping mall. In Denver, the eccentric CEO of Denver Communications, or DenCom, has a target on his head. In the wilds of Greenland, a long-forgotten enemy is reaching out for recognition and revenge. At the center of it all, a special investigator for the “communications” company is dragged into a diabolical plot he can’t begin to understand.
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S.T. Hoover was born and raised in Southern California. He enjoys writing books packed with variety and genre-bending plots. His first book, Michael Ridding, is the first volume of a pentalogy meant to serve as the backbone of a shared literary universe. When not writing, he enjoys reading, traveling and researching the next book. He currently lives in Canton, Ohio with his wife Faryl.
  I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by S.T. Hoover. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
  • Michael Ridding
  • Age: 36
  • Height: 6’ 3
  • Training: No formal military or advanced training.
  • Personality: Dry-humored, occasionally ill tempered. Prefers the presence of close friends or solitude to crowded clubs or shows. Aside from his work for DenCom, he doesn’t get out much.
  • Bio: Michael Ridding was born in Sacramento, CA. He attended college at the University of Akron with his long-time childhood friend and now roommate Aron Sanderson. After college, Michael managed an aquarium import facility in Dallas where fresh- and saltwater fish were quarantined and then distributed to various shops all over the country. Michael then moved to Palm Springs and opened his own aquarium shop, Modern Aquaria. Soon after, he was asked to join DenCom as an official investigator and has since partaken in and led several low-level investigations, except for a high-level trip to Antarctica six months ago.
  • Favorite foods: Steak, shrimp, salads.
  • Favorite drink: Lemonade or water.
  • Professional Assessment: Ill fit for investigative work and expeditions. Would not recommend for current position.
  • Status: Active Investigator.
  • Number 173: Mr. Ridding, how do you feel your time at DenCom has been spent following your recent trip to Antarctica?
  • Michael: To be perfectly honest, I’m not thrilled with how things have gone. Why did we leave Antarctica so suddenly? I still feel like the crew deserves an answer. What did Benedict find out? What was that other team doing there? Too many questions, not enough answers.
  • Number 173: Interesting. In the future, you would prefer Benedict be more open and honest about your work?
  • Michael: Who wouldn’t? Half the time, I don’t even know if I’ve done what he asks. I mean, I’m grateful for the opportunity, but I still feel like I need more to work with.
  • Number 173: Do you feel like the work you do is fulfilling?
  • Michael: I mean, didn’t you hear what I just said?
  • Number 173: Correct. I’m just following protocol.
  • Michael: Sometimes. To sum it up, sometimes.
  • Number 173: If you could take a year off from DenCom, would you, and how would you spend your time?
  • Michael: I don’t think I would. Can’t really say why. What I’d do, like, if I had to take a year off? I would probably just focus on my shop, maybe take a short vacation? I don’t really know what I’d do without DenCom.
  • Number 173: Do you feel that DenCom is an intrusive part of your life?
  • Michael: That’s the strange thing: yes, but no. It’s a welcome intrusion. Even given my problems with how Benedict runs the show, I really do enjoy my work, regardless of the pay.
  • Number 173: Alright. Last question: Would you feel comfortable sharing your answers with Benedict?
  • Michael: He wasn’t getting them already?
  • Number 173: He has access, but these interviews are simply a formality. HR stuff, you understand. He’s not going to see these answers if you don’t want him to.
  • Michael: … I do not wish to share these answers.
  • Number 173: Any particular reason?
  • Michael: *Mr. Ridding refused to answer the question, and the interview was terminated at his request*
Guest Post
Gradually Subverting Genre Expectations by S.T. Hoover
When I set out to write Michael Ridding, I knew people would hate it. That’s a pretty grim outlook, I know. But it was the one I had going in. After years of refining the characters and the universe they inhabit, I knew this series would not be for everyone. While Michael Ridding is, on the surface, a thriller novel, there are bigger things at work that have been in motion since before DenCom was even on my radar. Going in, I knew one thing: This was a thriller novel that would not follow the rules. It would lay the groundwork for bigger and stranger things than I’ve seen in the genre before, and I knew that, pass or fail, it would upset readers in one form or another. There is a promise made between an author and a reader when the cover is cracked: I’ll tell you a story. A safe story. One you’ve probably heard before, but it will pass the time. I knew I could never make that promise. So, I’m not shy about saying this book isn’t for everyone. It wasn’t meant to be for everyone, and I doubt most of my books ever will be. If you enjoy the ride, great! Michael is straightforward enough that most readers will have found my warnings unnecessary. But this is just the start of the journey. We’ll be passing some odd attractions along the way and making more than a few unforeseen stops. If you know that going in, then I welcome you aboard. Buckle up. Giveaway
Giveaway: $100 Amazon Gift Card
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