Earning a Stipend from Audible
A production stipend is where Audible pays the narrator $100 per finished hour, but the narrator has to agree to a royalty share to get the money from that, and the book has to be finished and approved in 60 days. The total amount available is also limited to $1000. Also, I believe producers/narrators are limited on how many stipend contracts they can take. It’s to encourage royalty share deals, because they really aren’t always all that appealing to narrators. They’re a bit risky and many narrators are getting burned.
You can’t choose if you get a stipend from Audible or not, though. You have to earn it. Fateful was awarded a stipend from Audible within a week of listing the book on ACX. I may have just gotten lucky, but I can share with you what I’d done, and maybe you’ll get lucky too. (Of course, there are no guarantees…)
You need to show that your book has good earning potential. So in “Comments from Rights Holder” I put things like this: (Also, I would say books that have been out longer than others, with a good sales track record, might be more likely to get a stipend.)
Marketing and sales:
A DETAILED Marketing Plan. And I mean very detailed. Like list plans for paid advertising, etc.
Past sales/download numbers. If over 200 thousand ebooks have been downloaded, then put that, even if they were free downloads. You’ve still been able to reach that many readers.
Past sales rank, like if you’ve been in the top 100 on Amazon before.
List future books in the series. Include published books and ones in the plans.
Awards (Highest Amazon rank, New York Times, etc.)
Social Media Stats (Twitter, Facebook fan page, YouTube, even Pinterest)
Number of 5 star reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.
And then notes for the producer about production like:
Tell them to “show” you what they can do. This lets them know you plan to give them some creative license. Artists like that kind of stuff, I should know…
List accents they’ll needed to perform.
List the point of view for the book.
For me, I also explained why I wanted a male reader. (It was because while book 1 was 3rd person female perspective, future books switched. And I had way more male characters than female characters in the story. And in my audience research, my readers preferred listening to a male.)
Tips for the Audition Script:
Male and Female Characters
Humor or Tension
Keep it Short
Also, I had a sentence in there that could be awkward if the narrator wasn’t good enough to make it sound natural. I didn’t really do this intentionally, but the one who made it sound natural was easily the one who got the job. The female character said, “Gee, thanks Ethan,” with heavy sarcasm. The others made it sound so awkward I actually cut it from the book, even though the one who got the job managed it just fine…
If you’re curious to hear how my books turned out, check out the audio samples on Soundcloud.
Thanks for visiting my blog! If you have questions, please leave them in the comments.
Audiobook Production and Marketing by Cheri Schmidt –royalty shares
Note: I hope you don’t mind me joking about the fact that I look like a vampire. It’s actually something I hear ALL OF THE TIME. I take it as a compliment, because vamps are considered good-looking, right? The other reason people might say this is because I do look quite a bit younger than I actually am…um, did you think I was going to tell you my age? Nope, you’ll just have to guess. And actresses like Nicole Kidman made pasty white acceptable in Moulin Rouge. At least I thought so…or maybe I just hoped so. And, okay, I guess Nicole does look like a vampire in this picture. What can I expect really, when I have such fair skin I only freckle or burn in the sun and brown hair so dark it’s almost black? And my guess is that people usually say vampire instead of Snow White because of the widow’s peak I have? It’s all right, I give you permission to laugh at me and my paleness… (This picture was found on Pinterest. I’m not sure where it’s from, but I think it was promo for the movie. Although this pic of Nicole does inspire me to wear red in the next author portraits I plan to have taken…)
(Note: We’re in the process of re-recording these interviews for the next writer’s conference…so please stay tuned!!)
Anyway, on to the questions! Two of them this time…
Question: Do you prefer to be paid an hourly rate or in royalties or in both?
Answer: (There was a lot to talk about with this one. I cut it down so this clip wasn’t too long which is why it starts partway through.)
Basically, Jason said of course he’d prefer both, but it isn’t always easy to work it out that way with ACX’s business model. Which is fine. I do not regret going through ACX for audiobook production. I’d actually recommend it to any author wanting to reach a new market with their stories. Which is why I’m doing this blog series on audiobook production via ACX.
Also, as I recommended in my post about choosing a narrator, it might be best to select both Royalty Share & An Unspecified Hourly Rate when listing your book so that you can attract quality producers. Don’t go into this expecting to get a well-produced audiobook without spending some money to compensate the artist for their time. Because this is a new market, we don’t know enough about selling this product to guarantee royalties will be enough to cover the time and cost of production.
I can personally attest to the fact that Jason does care about quality a great deal. It’s obvious to me that he puts a lot of hard work into what he does. And I love how he acts out each character. As he said, it is why I chose him out of the auditions I got. I will also say that Jim Dale sort of ruined me in terms of listening to audiobooks. Because of how he performed the Harry Potter series, I don’t enjoy audiobooks unless they are done that way. Being able to distinguish between the different characters really pulls me into the story. My stories have been compared to Harry Potter because of the magic and wonder in them, but there is also a great deal of romance that the Harry Potter books didn’t have. Because of that, I wanted someone who wouldn’t baulk at the high level of romance in my stories, so for me, Jason fit the bill for both. Anyway, I hope everyone else gets as lucky as I did with Jason.
Question: Is doing a royalty share for a book ever worth it?
Answer: I like that we get the producer’s perspective on this from Jason. For me as an author, I’m willing to take the risk of doing the work and waiting for the royalties. I foot the cost of editing and cover art, and the time to write, etc., expecting to make it back with royalties. Of course it will take a while, but not too long. I guess I was sort of torn, I didn’t feel it was fair to expect the producer to take that same risk on my book, but I also wanted them to have the benefit of making money on work already done. Maybe this is because I’ve done commissioned, work for hire before, and sometimes that feels like you’re doing a lot of work that you’re paid for, but then to make more money, you have to do that work all over again. With a book I can do the work once and then sit back and collect royalties. And I can see that the work a producer does is creating a new product, just like I did when I wrote the book, so I want the producer to be able to enjoy that same benefit if they want to. The eBook of Fateful has been really good to me since I first published back in 2011. That one story has made me quite a bit of money. I’ll even tell my girls to say, “Thank you, Fateful,” when I buy them something special using my royalties. I know it’s probably silly of me to think this way. Many would say, it’s my book, so why don’t I want all of the royalties? I guess I also know that I would not have the enjoyable audiobooks that I do if not for Jason’s talent and hard work. Does that make sense? Please tell me what you think in the comments. I’m curious to know.
Ironically, however, right after we did this interview and Jason said that royalty shares had not paid off for him financially yet, we did experience an unexplained pop in sales. Like a huge pop in sales. Like from one month to the next, it was an 8000% increase… of course I don’t expect royalties to always be that high. In my experience, it just doesn’t work like that. It’s really just a rollercoaster of royalties for eBooks or audiobooks, which is better than a flat line in sales. So while Fateful was a royalty share with a stipend paid by Audible, it’s one royalty share that has started to pay off in royalties too. I hope it continues to do so. I’m doing everything I can think of to help it along. Note: If your sales have flat lined, then check back for when I get into marketing strategies…
Sorry about the delay in this post. Some family stuff came up.
In my next post, I’ll cover how to list your book so you’re more likely to get a stipend from Audible.
On my other blog I asked readers to tell me what they thought of the samples for the audiobooks I have published. I’ve been surprised by many of the rather unenthusiastic comments. Some have even said they don’t listen to audiobooks, so they can’t comment on the samples. Really? They won’t even take two minutes to even listen to the sample? I’m having a hard time understanding this. Honestly, to me this is similar to people who won’t read, just in reverse. And it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain.
“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” ~Mark Twain
It’s true that it’s hard to find time to read, especially when you have children to care for, a fulltime job to do, and laundry to sort. This leads me to my first reason to try audiobooks.
1 Listening to an audiobook is far more convenient than sitting down to read.
You can multitask with an audiobook in ways you can’t with a printed book or an ebook. You can enjoy a story or learn to speak French while doing laundry, preparing dinner, or driving to work. Basically, you can listen to a story being read to you at times when you cannot read at all. So let me put it this way, “The man who does not listen to audiobooks has no advantage over the man who cannot hear.”
And with Whispersync via Amazon, you can keep the story going from your Kindle to your car without interruptions, making audiobooks even more convenient. Keep listening while you drive the children to soccer… Life doesn’t have to interrupt your enjoyment of a good book.
2 Listening to a book rather than reading it IS NOT cheating like watching a movie is.
Movies have been changed from the original book because much of what is in a book can’t be translated into film. The internal monologue, the descriptions of feelings, taste, and smell are not things that can be shown on the big screen. Sure an actor can show emotion on their face, but it’s still just not the same. Books that are made into movies need to be stripped down to dialogue, scenery, sounds, and action. Movies just can’t be as rich and allow you to use your imagination like a book does.
But most audiobooks are unabridged, which means it’s exactly the same as the physical book, just more entertaining and more convenient. And listening still allows you to imagine every nuance written upon the page. The story is not imagined for you, it’s simply lifted from the page.
3 Listening to an audiobook can help you momentarily escape reality when life sucks.
When a book is acted out by a professional reader, the little inflexions in the voice, the laughter, and the tension all make the story fill your senses and bring it to life in a way that the story surrounds you. Maybe you need to run as you try to escape the demons in your life. Maybe you’ve been crying and you wouldn’t be able to focus on the words to read them. Maybe your vision is failing you because of an illness. Maybe you’re in so much physical pain you can’t even lift a book to read it. Maybe you’re blind but you love to enjoy a good story. Listening to someone read to you is actually easier than reading Braille. When you can EASILY sink into another world, time, or place, you can take a momentary break from reality so that when you do return to facing your demons, you’re refreshed and ready to battle again.
4 Audiobooks can make you smile when you realize you’re caught in a traffic jam.
Nowadays, most audiobooks are digital, meaning you can have several with you at all times on your smartphone. Stuck in traffic or driving a long distance? Escape the monotony with a great story.
5 There’s nothing quite so delicious as having a romance whispered into your ear.
Need I say more?
6 Have you listened to Harry Potter as read by Jim Dale?
Um, you’re totally missing out if you haven’t. Your children are missing out too. And if none of the above reasons are enough to get you to try an audiobook, then start with Harry Potter and you’ll be hooked.
Of course, you’re welcome to try one of my audiobooks as well…
Not sold yet? Listen to chapter one of Fateful right now.
Tristan Hunt is like listening to Jim Dale, just sexier… 😉
And if you’re smart, which I’m sure you are, go download the Kindle copy of Fateful for FREE,
and then snatch up the 10 hour long audiobook for $1.99!
(Just click on the image below.)
Thanks for visiting my website!
Why do you love listening to audiobooks? Let me know in the comments.
Also from AU Audible.
And from UK Audible.
A series on audiobook production via ACX by Cheri Schmidt.
Here is Jason Downs (aka Tristan Hunt) and Cheri Schmidt (aka that pale vampire) doing a Q & A for a writer’s conference. Second question: Can the author approve the voice of each character?
(Note: We’re in the process of re-recording these interviews for the next writer’s conference…so please stay tuned!!)
Jason brings up a good point. You’ve already been through the audition process, so there shouldn’t be too many surprises. And you really should trust this person that you’ve hired to know what they’re doing and allow them to do their job without you nitpicking over details that just don’t matter. Let them have creative license with the story. This is a collaboration…
However, I feel it’s important to note that you should take care in the audition sample you choose to post for the book. Make sure you have voices of the two main characters in there, along with some accents that might be necessary. I would also suggest choosing a scene with some tension and dialogue for both a male and female character.
Oh, and there’s one more thing I forgot to mention. If you’ve described your characters well enough, the right voice for each one will be, or should be, pretty obvious to the professional you’ve hired. That’s one thing that changed for me after I first heard my stories “performed.” As I wrote, I could hear how it would sound as an audiobook. I couldn’t do that before. I think it also improves your writing, because you know what will and won’t work better than you did before.
Thanks again for visiting my blog. Check back later for more… And please comment and share. 😉
Converting readers to audiobook listeners one bookworm at a time…
“Yes, it’s still reading, just more convenient.” -Cheri Schmidt
Many readers think listening to an audiobook is cheating, that it’s like watching the movie. But if the audiobook is unabridged, then it’s exactly like the original book. The only difference is that the story has been lifted from the page and brought to life for you.
In this new market of audiobooks, we as authors need to connect with our readers and use those free codes that we get from ACX to introduce them to this new format.
Erin from WrathsQueensBooks is one of those readers for me. In this video, she is holding the original copy of Fateful that I sent to her a very long time ago, and she has now just enjoyed it on audio. Her very first audiobook. (I’m grateful to her for taking the time to listen to my story once again after having already read it.)
A series on audiobook production via ACX by Cheri Schmidt.
Here is Jason Downs and an extremely pale vampire—I mean me doing a Q & A for a writer’s conference. First question: How closely do you work together?
(Note: We’re in the process of re-recording these interviews for the next writer’s conference…so please stay tuned!!)
(Good grief! It was really hard for me to post that to YouTube…)
Cheri’s additional thoughts on this question…
I think how closely you work together largely depends on the author and how involved you want to be. But it is a creative collaboration, so perhaps more authors should be more involved. That doesn’t mean that you need to be nitpicky or annoying, though. That just means get to know each other a little so you can make the best decisions for the story, and better market the book after production is finished.
My guess is that producers and authors that have done a royalty share deal are more likely to work together closely during and after production, because they both benefit financially if sales are good.
Jason mentioned that he’s had some authors who just approve the audio without making any changes, and I wanted to comment on that. I don’t know if all producers do it this way or not, but Jason would post chapters as he finished them. Either one at a time, or a few at a time. I couldn’t resist reviewing them right away, but I have heard of authors who don’t bother listening to the chapters at all. And then when it’s finished they wonder if they should listen to it or just approve it. I don’t think that is wise at all, and I was surprised to hear from Jason that some authors actually do that. Yes, producers edit their work, but things can still be missed by mistake. Just like authors need more than one editor, so does a narrator. With ACX, I feel like the rights holder is final QA, and if you don’t listen just to make sure there aren’t any random repeats still in there, you’ll make your producer look bad and that will affect his rating in the reviews. I have listened to audiobooks with repeats in the finished product and it always surprises me, because it wouldn’t have been all that hard to fix.
However, while reviewing the audio, remember that every change you ask for could cause a change in sound. So be very selective. I’ve heard of some authors who feel like that’s how they wrote it so the producer had better not change a single word! Oh please, sometimes that just happens when reading. But if it sounds natural and still makes sense, then leave it like it is. That will be better for sound quality. And you’ll likely have a better working relationship with your producer if you’re not a pain to work with.
Thanks for dropping by, and check back for more videos of this Q & A…
A series on audiobook production via ACX and marketing when the book is finished.
I recently presented at a writer’s conference about this, and I was the only author there presenting on ACX. I was limited on time for my class, and there just wasn’t enough time for me to cover everything. So I’m bringing that info to you via my blog and YouTube. I’ll cover everything I didn’t have time for and share the Skype interview with producer/narrator Jason Downs where he answers author’s questions. (In fact, we’ve decided to do a YouTube series on the subject.)
Choosing a producer/narrator:
In this emerging market of audiobooks, marketing is key, and I would say there is a learning curve, because it’s different from marketing books in general. I suspect that’s because this is a slightly different audience. Your first and perhaps your biggest, marketing choice for the audiobook is choosing the right voice. This is also a creative choice. The style of the narrator needs to fit the style of the story. Your choice will make a big difference in the finished product, good or bad.
“The right narrator can bring a story to life in a way that nothing else can, can fully immerse the audience into the story, can make them feel the emotion in the words, and can make the author shine.” Cheri Schmidt
Things to consider:
What point of view did you write the book in? If it’s female first person, then it would be best if you chose a female narrator. Recently, my husband has listened to a few books, and not indie books, where the story is told from a first person male perspective but the narrator is female. It really drives him crazy. This seems like it should be an obvious thing, but apparently it isn’t.
If it’s written in third person, how many male and female characters are there in the story? Looking at these numbers will help you decided if it’s best to go with a male or female narrator. For example, my Fateful Series, which is Paranormal Romance, has a majority of male characters. It is very difficult for a female to perform male voices. Many times they sound like silly caricatures. Plus it’s easier for a male or female reader to add greater variety in voices for characters of the same gender. While the majority of my characters are male, there is one scene where there are 6 females all together. I could tell it was almost a stretch for him to do all of those female voices at once and make sure they don’t all sound alike. He managed it extremely well, but to do that with an entire novel would be a problem.
If you’ve written the book in third person and you have an even number of male or female characters, should you choose a male or female narrator? When in doubt, go with a male narrator, even for romance… Or especially for romance. For Fantasy, Horror, Middle Grade, or Mystery male is usually a better choice every time… This is not the trend. I’ve noticed that many more books are narrated by female readers, and many of them are absolutely amazing! But most male readers have a greater range in their voices and can perform better female characters than females can perform males. I realized this is personal preference, but it’s a major turnoff for me to listen to a woman perform a male character that is supposedly hot. It just does not work. Most women that I know would rather have a male whisper a romance into their ear over a female. And most men that I know wouldn’t want to listen to a woman read an action spy novel to them, or maybe they would… I’m sure there are exceptions, but I personally wouldn’t market a book to the exception.
A few more tips to choosing the right producer:
Should you narrate your own book? If your book is on writing, or a story about your own life, and you know how to produce a quality recording, then yes. Otherwise, I think it’s best to leave the acting and production to the pros.
Choose a soothing voice. This is another reason you should go with a male reader if you can. Female voices tend to grate on the ear. Even so, the male or female voice must be one that readers can listen to for long periods of time. Nothing too harsh, tinny, or high-pitched.
Get outside opinions from friends, family, and fans. In my experience, authors get desperate, thinking they won’t find what they want, so they go with whoever auditions. And authors tend to have bad taste when choosing their own narrator. It’s just a fact you’re going to have to swallow.
Listen to other work done by the narrator you’re considering. And I don’t just mean the samples they have in their profile. Buy one of the audiobooks they’ve done and listen to it. This is the best way to hear what the quality of their work is like. You also might want to contact other authors they’ve worked for to see how her or she was to work with.
Google their name. They’ll Google you before auditioning as they consider whether to work with you or not. This is a great of way of discovering a little bit about the person you’re thinking about trusting your book with.
Don’t forget how much time and effort the producer puts into your book. It takes 5-6 hours worth of hard work to produce 1 recorded hour of finished audio. It also takes a great deal of creative talent. This is not like hiring an editor. Anyone with the skill can edit a book, but not every narrator can bring life to your story in the same way. On ACX you can choose to list your book as either Royalty Share or Paid per Finished Hour. Most authors want to do the Royalty Share so they don’t have to pay the narrator for their work, thinking royalties will cover it later. Sadly, many narrators are getting burned on Royalty Shares. If you want a quality narrator, it would be wise to list the book as Royalty Share OR a Negotiated Hourly Rate. We know the benefits of paying a professional editor to polish off our writing, so why would we then complain about paying a professional artist to produce our audiobook? And even if you manage to get an Audible Stipend like I did for Fateful, pay the producer even more than the $100 dollars per finished hour Audible pays. Happy narrators make for well-produced audiobooks…
However, there are some quality producers out there who are willing to do a Royalty Share even without a stipend. Some of them are just getting into this market and just want to get their name on book titles. I have one friend who didn’t have the money for production and she didn’t earn a stipend from Audible, but she still got auditions and managed to find a really nice and dedicated producer because he liked the genre she was writing and wanted to get his name on more books. (I should also note that she was upfront with him about her ebook sales not being super amazing, so she didn’t think he would make much money. He was willing to do it anyway.) So it isn’t unheard of, and if you do your listing right, it could work out for you too.
Take care in your choice. You’ll be working with this stranger to create a new product…a collaboration of talents.
Up next…my producer and I will answer a question turned in from other authors about how closely we work together during production and marketing via a Skype interview.
(I’ll try to post a new article each week, or perhaps a bit more often so stay tuned!)
An interview of a vampire from The Fateful Trilogy by Cheri Schmidt. Oh wait, I mean an interview of a werewolf. Oh wait, I mean an interview of a villain…
(Told from Max’s point of view.)
“Welcome, lovely ladies and dashing gents, whatever the case may be…” Max winks as he sketches a bow, his waves of brown hair tumbling down over his forehead. The knight shoves fingers through his hair to push it back into place as he settles into his chair. “Today, I have Lucas from The Fateful Trilogy here for an interview.” Max twists in his seat to face Lucas who is sitting in a comfortable chair in Beon’s drawing room at Order headquarters. “Welcome, villain.”
Lucas stares, or rather, scowls at Max before he says with a heavy note of annoyance in his tone, “Were you expecting me to cackle evilly, because it’s just not going to happen.”
Max shrugs his big shoulders and props one booted foot on his opposite knee, the picture of ease. Clearly not intimidated by the murdering rogue. “Shall we begin?” Max drops his gaze quickly to his notes.
“If you would get on with it, I’d appreciate it. I do have better things to do than sit here with you answering ridiculous questions.”
“Like what, exactly?” asks Max.
Muscles jump along Lucas’ jaw. His dark eyes narrow on the knight. His nostrils flare. “Are you talking about stupid questions you’d like to ask me, or what I’d rather be doing?”
“The latter, obviously,” responds Max.
“Proper mischief and mayhem…obviously,” answers Lucas smugly.
“What sort of mischief and mayhem? Be specific. Our audience is curious to know,” Max asks with an annoyed lift of one eyebrow.
Smirking evilly, Lucas locks his dark gaze onto Max’s in a threatening way. “I could be seeking time alone with Nadia so that I may get to know her better. She and I haven’t…chatted much.” The smirk turns to a leer as it seems Lucas imagines what harm he’d like to be inflicting upon Nadia.
Max comes back with a threat of his own. His lips thin, his fingers slip into his boot, and in the blink of any eye, he sends a knife at Lucas. The six-inch blade sinks into the back cushion of the chair Lucas is seated in, right next to his ear, barely missing the draw of blood by a thread.
The villain doesn’t even flinch. “Not bad for an old rusty knight,” Lucas says in a silky voice.
“I’ve spent most of my life dispatching miscreants like you.”
“We’ve digressed,” says Lucas dryly.
Max draws a measured breath and releases it slowly, apparently in agreement. “Do you have any hobbies the readers might not know about? Something uncommon, please, so don’t say rowing or shooting or steeplechase.”
Lucas pauses for a long time while scratching at his knee a bit nervously.
“Well?” Max presses. “You promised to be honest for the readers.”
“Fine. Crossword puzzles,” Lucas finally mutters angrily.
A mocking laugh escapes Max. “Do you also knit?”
Lucas frowns. “You insult me.”
“Every chance I can get.”
“You’re digressing again,” Lucas says. “Did you have any other questions for me? Perhaps something more relevant than what I do with my spare time, like what I do with my victims instead? I can promise you, the readers would be much more interested in what I could be, or rather, will be doing to Nadia.”
“Threaten my wife again, and next time I won’t intentionally miss.” Lucas doesn’t seem to have an answer to that, so Max goes on, “What made you like this, Lucas? What event in your life darkened your soul so much?”
“I think I was always like this, to be honest. ’Tis one of my best attributes.” Lucas says with a note of pride.
“Always evil, you say? Surely as a child—”
“I don’t remember much from my childhood. But what I do recall, it wasn’t exactly pleasant.”
“Was not the nicest chap there ever was.”
“So you’re blaming your evilness on him, then?”
Lucas shrugs his shoulders. “I wouldn’t be the first.”
“Now you’ve made me curious. Tell me more about your father, would you? What was it about him that turned you to a life of disruptive and violent behavior?”
“This is a massively insipid line of questioning. Next please,” Lucas says with an air of superiority.
Max rolls his jaw in an apparent effort to keep his anger tamped down. “Fine. Let’s just cut to the chase, hmm? First a vampire, and now a werewolf… What is it about being a monster that appeals to you so much?”
“It’s a bit cliché, but there is a great deal of power in fear.”
“So this is all about power?”
Lucas sighs. “Actually, no. It’s all about revenge.”
“Against Ethan,” says Max.
“Did I just hear my name?” Ethan asks as he enters with service for tea.
Max draws in a breath of air and his eyes land on the hot scones on a plate next to the teapot. Despite the fact that he was hungry, he eyes Ethan with unmasked curiosity. “What are you doing?”
“I don’t need help.”
“Then I’m simply here to offer refreshment.” Ethan’s gaze touches on Lucas and it was easy for Max to mark the lie.
“Really?” Max asks doubtfully.
“Of course.” Ethan starts pouring out. “I’ll be mother,” he said with a bright smile and a twinkle of mischief in his blue eyes. Intrigued, Max leans back into the cushion and watches to see how this is going to play out. “Fancy a cuppa?” Ethan asks Lucas pleasantly.
Lucas eyes the cup wearily. “Is it poisoned?”
A chuckle rumbles out of Ethan. “Would I poison you?”
“Yes. I believe you would.”
“What reason exactly would I have to poison you?” When Lucas doesn’t answer right away, Ethan asks, “One lump or two?”
Lucas folds his arms. The corners of his mouth slide downward. “Where’s Danielle? Isn’t she going to join our quaint little tea party?”
“No,” Ethan practically growls, straightening, the food forgotten…apparently. Ethan removes his glasses and sets them carefully on the table next to the tea tray.
The action was clearly not lost on Lucas as he also rises to his feet and pushes up his sleeves while muttering something that sounds quite a bit like, “Bloody twit is dead from the neck up…” but not loud enough for Max to be completely sure about it.
“Ethan, what are you doing now?” Max asks.
“Nothing,” Ethan shoves up his sleeves as well.
“Why did you take off your glasses then?”
“No particular reason worth mentioning, Max.”
Max rolls his eyes when Ethan throws the first punch and the two men brawl, spilling the tea, smashing the teacups, and breaking the table.
Max hadn’t noticed at first, but Ethan had ropes and a gag hanging out of his back pocket. As a bruise develops around Ethan’s left eye, and a trickle of blood oozes from his bottom lip, Ethan tightens the knot on the ropes now securing Lucas to the floral-patterned wingback chair.
Clearing his throat, Max folds his arms over his chest and shoots a curious gaze at Ethan. “Exactly how am I supposed to interview the villain with him bound and gagged like that?”
Ethan shrugs his shoulders. “Scone?”
Casting his gaze to the ruined food on the floor, he lifts an eyebrow.
Ethan’s face splits into a smile. “I’ve got fresh ones in the kitchen; this was poisoned, of course.”
“And you need a new pair of spectacles,” Max points out, trying not to laugh.
“Hmm,” mutters Ethan a bit sheepishly while spying his crunched eyewear in the mess littering the decorative rug. “Unfortunate indeed, since that was my spare.”
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RJ Mirabal loves the Middle Rio Grande Valley having lived there for most of his life. Los Lunas High School 2006 Teacher of the Year, author RJ Mirabal, went on to win the Excellence in Education Award for NEA-New Mexico in 2007, having taught English, speech, drama and computer literacy. Now happily retired, he purses writing and music while volunteering with a motorcycle club and teachers’ organizations. RJ enjoys exploring New Mexico’s wilderness areas on his four-wheeler and traveling with his wife, Cheryl. The Tower of Il Serrohe is his debut novel.
An interview with author RJ Mirabal
What genre do you like to read?
I have always loved science fiction, fantasy, mystery, suspense, adventure, and non-fiction about cars, motorcycles, history, and religion. I would love to write in all those genres, but I feel most comfortable and “qualified” to write fantasy and magical realism.
Do you ever find yourself feeling the tension or emotions you’re writing?
Yes, especially when I’ve written something I consider funny and/or ironic. The tension of a stressful situation, not so much because I know how it’s going to turn out. The romantic scenes can be very emotional as well as those periods of death and destruction in my stories.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I have always loved music, though I’m not particularly talented as a musician. Still, I have enjoyed learning to play the hammered dulcimer in recent years. It’s an unusual instrument unknown to a lot of people though it has a wonderful sound, both sweet and very percussive at the same time. I spend a lot of time volunteering with my motorcycle club, the New Mexico Dulcimer Festival, and other interests. I derive great pleasure riding my Polaris RZR 4Wheeler up and down wilderness trails. Getting away from civilization, tasks, and the everyday concerns is very relaxing. I become focused on the here and now and forget the rest. My wife and I enjoy everyday activities, traveling, and just hanging out. It’s wonderful to have such a compatible companion in life. Since I retired from teaching, life has been good, and very interesting as I’ve taken on new challenges.
What is one of your pet peeves?
People who whine about every little thing get on my nerves. I have to stop myself when I get on a whining jag. I also don’t have much patience with those who can’t seem to take care of themselves while they’re waiting for the world to solve their problems. Being politically correct is very annoying and becoming more so by the day.
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