Catherine Cruzan

A New Realm of Fantasy

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Ring in the New Year with Eargasms!




Eargasms-Narrator-Andrea-EmmesHappy New Year, Everyone!  I hope 2015 is kind and generous to all of us, because we worked hard in 2014, and we deserve it!  Right?!!!

Meanwhile, if you like audiobooks, and you like contests and giveaways, check out a terrific write-up by Eargasms author/reviewer April.  She interviews my friend, Narrator extraordinaire, Andrea Emmes on the Eargasms website.  It’s a lot of fun, and best of all, you could win a free audiobook.

The original post on Eargasms can be found here!  Visit this link to enter the giveaway.

I’ve included interview highlights below for the interview by April:


1 – How did you get involved in recording audiobooks?
I’ve been an actor for over 20 years, 12 of those years doing voice overs.  But I took some time off to go back to college for a Game Designer degree and then did that for a couple of years.  This past May, I found myself needing a new job and decided that I needed to delve back into my first love: acting.  I set up my recording booth in my apartment, researched audiobooks, found a coach (Sean Pratt) and signed up with ACX. I haven’t looked back since!

2 – What is your favorite thing about recording books?
Bringing amazing stories to life.  It’s important to me to offer the listener a chance to escape from their “real” life and problems and take them into the world that an author has created and help them forget all their bills, issues, etc. and just entertain them.  I do mostly Young Adult fiction and I absolutely love to perform various characters and see how I can make their characters sing off of the pages and into the listener’s imagination.  I’m a total Bibliophile so it’s fun to read books for a living!

3 – Do you have a favorite genre or author to record?
I’m really enjoying Young Adult fiction, especially Sci-fi or mystery.  As far as authors go, I’ve enjoyed all of the authors that I’ve recorded so far and it’s really hard to call just one of them out.  They are all so good in their own way.  I do have a couple of authors that I’m going to be working with on other titles.

4 – What do you think is the most important part of the recording? 
Making sure you have the right equipment, the room is well sound proofed and that you’re focused on what you’re reading.  I’ve learned this the hard way about the sound proofing but that’s the joy of starting anything new is the learning curve.

5 – Do you have a narration superpower? Awesome accents, infusing emotion, super-fast read? What is your best trick?
My “catch phrase”, if you will, is The Girl with a Thousand Voices.  I love characters and differentiated them with different tonal qualities so that they are each unique and show personality to them. This way the listener will be able to tell who is speaking.

6 – What was your favorite book to read so far? And why?
Wow, great question.  I’ve got two actually, “The Lie” by Ashley Fontainne because it’s an emotionally thriller that has some pretty cool twists and great characters.  I also love the emotional journey that the main character, Karmen, goes through.  And the one I’m currently recording, “Jane and Austen (Hopeless Romantics” by Stephanie Fowers, not only because I’m a HUGE Jane Austen fan but because the story is super clever with how the author integrates Austen cannon into her story that is really interesting and fun.

7 – What was your most challenging read? What made it so difficult?
I think so far, I would say that “At Last, Goodbye” was the most challenging. It’s a really compelling short story and it’s just the narrator speaking to someone else (don’t want to spoil it) and there’s a lot of heart as she’s talking, describing life during this apocalyptic time.  I had tears streaming down my face as I was reading the last part of the story, it moved me that much.

8 – Is there a book out there that you desperately want to do the narration for? 
Hard to say. I would have LOVED to have recorded The Mortal Instruments series. I read each book and was hooked. I loved the characters and would have had a blast!  I think for me, as long as the story and characters are interesting, complicated and fun, I’m a happy narrator!

9 – Do you have a ritual or routine when you are recording a book?
In a way. I first read the book, make notes about the characters, highlight sections or questions that I have for the author. Then I’ll send a note to the author/publisher to send me any characterization notes they might have that will help me in coming up with their voices and “who” they are as characters. I really like to perform what I read so diving into my old acting techniques.

10 – What is a fun fact people might not know about you?
I’m a huge Disney fan and many, many years ago, I had the pleasure of singing as Ariel in the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show at Disney World! One of the best jobs EVER!

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Most people define SUCCESS as a measure of accrued power, wealth and fame. We spend an exorbitant amount of time striving for more—more money for more stuff, a loftier place on the company ladder, utter dominance in our local spheres. We want everyone to love us, and in this media driven age, we seem to have learned that the only way to accomplish this is via celebrity status.

We’ve lost sight of personal FULFILLMENT, and the concept that what we nurture within becomes the foundation of what we manifest around us. Fulfillment is a byproduct of a happy self. No matter how many financial, emotional or physical burdens we must overcome, a healthy dose of dedicated personal growth can help us thrive and be successful.

Our inner dialogues become an indelible imprint upon who we are. Without tending to what truly motivates us, we can easily be overwhelmed by negativity.

SophiainLRAccording to my author, poet, correspondent friend, Sophia Ann Montoya, this negativity adversely affects our actions and reactions, regardless of the circumstances, resulting in disproportionate feelings and behavior. She discusses our need to manage our state of mind, so we can stay on course and be successful.

Some of the many pitfalls we face today:

  • Failing to recognize and develop our innate talents and abilities
  • A consuming craving for the opinions of others
  • A need to interject our own negative thoughts on any given subject
  • A temptation to do all sorts of crazy things to get noticed by others
  • Giving in to destructive behavior such as obsession, jealousy, criticality, aggression, contempt, revenge, etc.

LEARN.SAMSophia prescribes a recipe for Falling in Love with the Life You Create, and challenges us to Dare to Succeed!

  • Learn – everything that captures your interest
  • Practice – what you learn
  • Perform – set your new skills into action
  • Perfect – new skills open new doors
  • Fulfillment – live in a happy state of mind

Visit her website to delve further into her formula for SUCCESS!!!


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Shimmy for Me

Next stop on my magical mystery tour of fabulous talent, is my dear friend, DeAnna Cameron.  She is best known for her historical fiction featuring feisty heroines and the art of belly dance, including The Belly Dancer and Dancing at the Chance for Berkley Books.  Her latest novella Shimmy for Me is now available on Fine Skylark Media.

DeAnna is the founder of O.C. Writers, a network of Southern California writers over 200 strong.  She is also the founder and editor of eMagazine Lit Central O.C.

Her early years as a writer include working as a journalist, and a writer and editor for a number of Southern California newspapers and magazines.  When she isn’t writing or having fun with her family in Orange County California, she is creating wire-wrap, bead and multimedia designs for her company Odd Alchemy Jewelry.

Who is DeAnna Cameron in a nutshell?

DeAnnaCameron_AuthorPic_300dpiI’m a traditionally published author who is excited to add “indie author” to my résumé, too, with the recent release of SHIMMY FOR ME, a contemporary romance novella that launches my new California Belly Dance series.

Why do you write?

Before I was a writer, I was a voracious reader. Reading made me fall in love with meeting new characters and new places, and it taught me how transcending it could be to get inside someone else’s head and experience things I probably would never experience in my own day-to-day life. Once I was hooked on that, it was a short leap to wanting to create my own stories.

What is it you love most about what you do?

I could be flip here and say it’s pretty great to be able to work in my PJs and have a morning commute measured in steps rather than miles. And that part of the job is terrific, but what really keeps me coming back to the keyboard or the notepad is usually just one simple question: What’s going to happen next? What are these characters going to do or say next? How are they going to resolve their problems? What new situations are they going to get themselves into? It’s that constant sense of discovery that I really love.

What and/or who inspires you?

There are so many authors I admire and who have inspired me. Anne Rice, Elizabeth Peters, and Kate Chopin are a few of them.

As a local Southern California author, how are you influenced by the Orange County lifestyle?

I’ve lived in Orange County most of my life, but I’m still not sure exactly what the typical O.C. lifestyle is. People tend to focus on the pockets of affluence we have or the surf culture of the beach cities, but the truth is there is an incredible diversity here, in terms of ethnicity, economics, politics, you name it. Whatever kind of lifestyle you can imagine, you can probably find it somewhere in Orange County.

Do you have any favorite OC hot spots and/or things you like to do in Orange County?

Disneyland is hands-down my favorite place in Orange County. I go about once a year, and I always have the best time. Since my husband and I started taking our daughter when she was 3, it has been even more fun because we get to experience the magic through her eyes.

You created a burgeoning group for local authors, O.C. Writers. It is an active community of writers supporting writers. Do you think writers have an increased level of freedom and/or responsibility in this new era of self-publishing?

We certainly have more freedom than we’ve ever had, thanks to—but not limited to—independent publishing. There’s a wonderful spirit of camaraderie and information-sharing that I don’t think was present before, at least in some circles, and I think many authors now see how mutually beneficial it is to view other authors as potential partners, instead of competitors.

You have worked as a journalist and a magazine editor. Do you think that background affects story and characterization in your fiction writing as well?

In some ways, that old training was an impediment because journalists are trained to tell a story in a dispassionate, objective way. That doesn’t make for compelling fiction. So I had to forget how to tell a story to a reader, and learn how to let a reader experience the story.

Your books focus on entertainers overcoming adversity in colorful times. Can you tell us about your fascination with dancers? What draws you to these vibrant heroines?

You said it: dancers are entertaining and vibrant. What’s not to love? I also think dancing itself is not only wonderful artistic expression, but there’s something primal about it, something that resonates on a deeper level. As a species, movement was our first language, before spoken language, and I believe dancing taps into that. As far as my heroines go, whatever problems they may have, dancing is always a powerful influence in their lives. It gives them an inner strength or an inner drive that propels them in really positive way.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

The best advice I can offer is to stop talking about writing and write. Start a story, then finish it. Rinse and repeat. There are no shortcuts.

What can you tell us about your current project?

Orig_WSpine_SFM_5_5x8_5_144SHIMMY FOR ME is a novella that grew out of my love for the Southern California belly dance community, as well as my experience working at some of our local newspapers. Specifically, it’s about a strong young woman struggling to keep her dance studio, called the Shimmy Shop, from going bankrupt who has no time for romance, although it has a way of finding her anyway. And I’m looking forward to telling the stories of some of the other women who work and play at the Shimmy Shop with future installments of the California Belly Dance series.

Book Blurb:

One passionate night. Two lost souls. A whole world of trouble.  Juggling two jobs to keep her belly dance studio afloat keeps Abby Anderson’s mind off her shattered love life—until a reawakened pain sends her into the arms of an anonymous stranger she plucks from the audience of her tribal belly dance show. No names, no strings, no romance. She tells herself it’s a harmless hookup.  Until he turns up at her day job . . .  Derek Collier, the sexy heir to the Collier media dynasty, just landed everything he’s always wanted: the publisher’s seat at the Orange County Herald. Except his first order of business is to sell the newspaper. Reeling from his family’s betrayal, his only comfort is the memory of that mysterious belly dancer and the perfect night they spent together.  He won’t rest until he finds her again.  She’ll lose everything if he does.

Book cover artist info and link:

Sommer Stein of Perfect Pear Creative Covers (

For more information about DeAnna Cameron:


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A Tangle of Fates


It has been a terrific year for books, I think.  In celebration of that fact, I charmed my friend Leslie Ann Moore into answering a few questions about life, writing, and her latest release, A Tangle of Fates.

pubphotoLeslie Ann is an award-winning SF/F author and international speaker.  She currently serves as the Vice President of the largest Writers group in Southern California, the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society (GLAWS). Last summer, she appeared as a panelist at the 72nd Annual World Science Fiction Convention–home to the celebrated Hugo Awards— in London, U.K.

In 2008, her debut fantasy novel Griffin’s Daughter won the prestigious IBPA Ben Franklin Award for Best First Fiction. Her short stories appear in Literary Landscapes, the official magazine of GLAWS, and on the ClonePod SF/F podcast. In 2011, her short story Invisible won Honorary Mention in the Writers of the Future contest. A practicing veterinarian since 1988, in her spare time, she studies the ancient and beautiful art of belly dance.


Who is Leslie Ann Moore in a nutshell?

A teller of stories and inconvenient truths.

Why do you write?

Because the voices in my head make me. Seriously, though…Writing for me is like breathing or eating. Essential to my existence. I’ve been creating stories for as long as I can remember, and the sharing of those stories satisfies a deep-seated need in me to connect to other human beings in a way that involves my creativity.

My brain is always churning up ideas in the forms of snippets of conversation, plot points, character names, partial scenes, one-liners, faces, place names. Most of these bits are akin to flotsam on a heaving sea. I strain them out with my mental net, examine them, and if they’re worth keeping, I make a note and put them in a computer file for future reference.

What is it you love most about what you do?

Making a connection to a reader through my words. Eliciting an emotional response, so that s/he cares just as deeply for my characters as I do. There’s nothing like the thrill of having a discussion with a reader about my work, and listening to that reader talk about my characters as if they are real people. It’s a total rush!

What and/or who inspires you most?

The thing that inspires me the most is my passion for social justice. It influences virtually everything I’ve ever written. We live in a world where so many people suffer needlessly because of greed, racism, sexism, bigotry of all kinds. As a woman of color, I will always use my writing as a platform to rail against injustice. My fervor may not be overt in every story, but it will always BE in every story.

As for who…that’s easy. My soulmate and biggest fan is my husband. He gives me all that I need emotionally and his own amazing talents as a writer are truly inspirational.

As a local LA author, how are you influenced by the City of Angels?

L.A. is my hometown. I was born here and have lived all but 14 years of my life here. L.A. is essentially a Latin city now. Spanish is the unofficial second language. It’s everywhere. Place names, street names, billboards. Everyone who lives here, whatever their ethnic heritage, is influenced in some way by Latin culture. So, it only made sense to me, when I was first thinking about and planning my latest book, to create a society based on what I imagined Latin culture would evolve into on an alien world, several hundred years into the future.

Do you have any favorite LA hot spots and/or things you like to do in LA?

My husband and I love the L.A. Zoo. The zoo has really come a long way in terms of how it houses its residents since I was a kid. We also love the beach, of course! One of our all-time favorite pastimes is walking along the shore in the late morning, stopping for lunch, then finishing up the rest of the day at a locally owned coffee house, working on our latest writing projects.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write every day, if possible, even if it’s only a few paragraphs. Study writers you admire, learn how they do things, then emulate them. Know proper grammar, in whatever language(s) you write in. Then, when you break the rules, you’re doing it as a stylistic choice and not out of ignorance. Learn how to critically analyze other people’s criticism of your work. Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone who reads your stuff will have the necessary insight and abilities to offer useful advice. It’s OK to reject suggestions as crap, even if it’s from someone you trust. In the end, you are the boss. Write what you want to write.

Your last award-winning Fantasy book series also published in a Young Adult release, and this first in your new series of books crosses a few genres as well.  How does this affect your process?  Does it impact your story, your characters, or even how you market your books?

I didn’t purposefully set out to cross any genres with Tangle. I built a world based on what I decided was plausible given a certain set of parameters. It so happens that the story could be shoehorned into the steampunk subgenre, though it’s not hardcore by any means. There are steam-powered cars, airships, and gaslit interiors, but there’s also electricity, radio, fuel cells and energy weapons! Seems a hodgepodge, but it’s all very logical, based on the parameters I’ve set up. As for how the book is marketed, because it does contain enough of the right elements, my publisher is aiming it more toward the fantasy/steampunk audience, rather than a straight-up sci-fi audience.

What can you tell us about your current project?

007-Cover-test2A Tangle of Fates is the first installment of a new trilogy, the overall title of which is Vox Machina. Genre-wise, it’s soft sci-fi, with steampunk flavorings, a lot of politics, adventure, some mysticism, and a dash of romance. For those familiar with screenwriting terms, the log-line would be ‘Snow White as revolutionary.’ Another log-line could be ‘Snow White meets The Terminator’. Both of those should give you a good idea about the general plot.

My heroine is born into the elite class of her oligarchic society, but she feels very keenly the injustices suffered by others to make her life comfortable. She wonders why she has so much, while so many, including her best friend, have so little. Yet, she believes herself to be powerless to change things. During the course of her personal journey, she is forced to face many truths about herself that she’d rather not face, but in doing so, she discovers that she, indeed, has the power to literally transform her entire world.

This series is different from my Griffin’s Daughter trilogy, which was a romantic fantasy very much in the epic fantasy tradition; however, it is similar in that both series address social justice issues that are so important to me.

The book has already gotten glowing reviews from, among others, Howard Hendrix, a Hugo and Nebula Award nominee, and Emma Bull, one of the inventors of the urban fantasy genre back in the ’80’s.

It’s available in both trade paperback and both e-formats from Amazon, Barnes&Noble and direct from Muse Harbor(e-version only).

For more information about Leslie Ann Moore:

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Audiobooks: A New Frontier in Entertainment

Today’s media landscape is more cluttered than ever, with thousands of titles available at any given time—software, games, music, television, movies, books, graphic novels, magazines, podcasts, art—downloaded, streaming live, on demand, on a wish list, in your cart.

Yet in the face of this entertainment frenzy, stands one of the bright, shining truths: Anyone can be reading anything, at anytime, anywhere.

You can put dozens of books in your pocket. You can summon them with a touch, and with a tap of screens, you can even share. That’s quite a place to find ourselves mere handfuls of years after experts projected the demise of the publishing industry.

Publishing has certainly suffered its setbacks, with major houses merging and folding every year. But like the music industry of the new millennium, it appears publishing is merely suffering its growing pains as it reinvents itself to suit a new generation of consumers.

This reimagined vista is arguably rife with self-published swill, while the archetypes continue to push a crass selection of celebrity biographies and real-house-wife guides to life. Gone are the days of great literature. The era of marketing platforms has prevailed. Or so it would seem.

We cannot discount the tenacity of writers and artists, and editors who love good books. Thanks to this new strain of self-made publishing houses, we find ourselves embracing the age of Small Press, where great stories are plentiful.

In the advent of this new frontier of books, a beautiful media marriage has emerged. Reminiscent of the radio dramas of old, audiobooks provide a perfect blend of audio entertainment and the written word. And they are gaining traction at impressive rates according to the Audio Publishers Association.

People who used to lament their lack of time to read are banging out a book or two a week—while commuting or running errands, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, walking the dog, playing with the kids, even exercising.

Well-known actors, entertainers, and authors are stepping up to the mic to transform their books from pages to recorded bytes. And listeners are quickly discovering a whole new means by which to connect to their favorites, both old and new.

One such up-and-coming narrator is Andrea Emmes. Known as The Girl with a Thousand Voices, she delves deep into every character she brings to life, creating a fun, unique experience for listeners and readers alike. Get to know her here, and then visit her on her website or on Facebook for an opportunity to hear more. If you drop her a note, she will happily share her work with you.

Who is Andrea Emmes in a nutshell?

I’m a simple woman, who loves to entertain and be entertained. I love people, life and God. I’m 5’ 1” and sassy. I hail from Northern California where I live with my husband.

What compels you to be a performer?

Growing up as an only child, my need for attention is fierce, but that is only part of what drives me. I thrive as a performer, feeding off an audience’s reactions. I love to take people to an imaginary place, and allow them to escape their real-life heartaches and stresses, and find some joy.

I enjoy being someone else, experiencing things I would not have encountered in my regular life.

What and/or who inspires you?

Performing is WHO I am. I love it. Entertainment brings people joy. It allows them to escape, to be moved emotionally, or partake of a powerful message.

When I was first diagnosed with a neurological pain disorder, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), I found myself diving into depression. I had lost hope, until I felt the Lord call me, and remind me there is always a reason to live.

I wrote my first Christian Album, pouring out all of my pain and heartache. And I discovered I wasn’t alone. We all need uplifting reminders of hope. Providing such a gift to others, inspires me in return, and keeps me going.

What is it you love most about what you do?

I love hearing how my work has affected others, whether it’s as simple as “You made me laugh,” or as touching as “Your performance reminded me I can be happy again.” I also love reaching people through my music.

You have been a stage actor, and you’ve been behind the camera. How does that experience affect your narrating style?

Narrating isn’t just reading the words an author wrote. You have to inject excitement and passion into the story, and really bring the characters to life. I want listeners to be sucked in. I use my years of experience as a stage and film actor to create my performance as a narrator.

AndreainboothWhen I start a project, the first thing I do is simply read the book. Then I read it again, taking notes, learning the characters and their relationships. I look for what the author is trying to convey, and discuss it with them, so I can be as true to their work as possible.

A narrator will add artistic elements to the story the author didn’t anticipate, and it may sound different than the writer envisioned. But that’s the beauty of what I do. It’s important to have that freedom as a professional to deliver the best interpretation and performance possible. It takes a great deal of trust.

In my experience, the authors that embrace the process are pleasantly surprised and pleased with the end result.

You have a background as a game designer. Does that impact the kinds of projects you pursue, or how you approach your work in general?

Yes! It truly does. I took a break from performing and went back to college for a degree in Game Design. I was able to work for a couple of years designing mobile games, which was super fun.

The key to being a good game designer is to find the FUN in the game, so players immerse themselves and find their own enjoyment. I think it’s the same for a narrator. We want to enthrall listeners, so they are drawn in and really enjoy the experience.

Do you have any advice for aspiring narrators?

Absolutely. Start by taking the TEST created by my mentor/coach, Sean Pratt.

Read a story out loud for 2 hours straight starting over again where you’ve made a mistake. Add emotion and character expression as you read. If you find you are still interested after 2 hours, Audiobook narration might be for you.

Find a coach to help you with what comes next. There is additional information on Youtube and the ACX website.

booth3Even if you’ve had prior acting experience, narration is a different animal. You cannot approach it the same way you would a play or a TV script. You need to learn new skills if you want to be successful. I have worked with Sean Pratt for over 5 months now, and you can hear the growth from my earlier works.

Spend the money on a good recording system, and sound proof your booth to avoid echo and reverberation. A high quality microphone and Audio Interface is essential to getting good, level sound.

Learn your vocal style and stick to it. My voice lends itself well to Young Adult, New Adult and some Adult books, because I sound younger. I would never audition for a book which requires a mature voice.

Make sure your demos and your website are up to par. Learn the business standards and follow them. My website is a good place to start your research.

Marketing is important. You need to put yourself out there and make sure the right people are hearing you. Create the perfect resume, quarterly newsletter, review sheet, and/or demo cd, and then figure out who you should be to sending them to.

Lastly, develop a thick skin. Not every book is meant for you, so be okay with rejection. Provide a good audition, and then let it go. Move on to the next project. The right book is out there if you persevere.

What can you tell us about some of your favorite projects?

I recently recorded ELFKIND by Catherine Cruzan, an epic Fantasy novel set in a vivid, compelling new world. I loved the characters and the story so much. It was a joy to record each time I stepped up to the mic. Working with Catherine was really special, because she was so on top of things, and so engaging and easy to talk to. It was nice to have a creative discussion about our views for her book, and to work together to agree on the best possible approach.

I also really love WITCH HEARTS by Liz Long and ALWAYS YOU by Kirsty Moseley, which I am recording now. It’s a Young Adult/New Adult Romance about two best friends, Riley and Clay, as they navigate the normal high school trenches with some twists. The emotional story speaks to me, and the characters are so much fun to play.

I enjoyed working on EVERNIGHT by Maia Rodriguez, a full cast musical available on iTunes and Amazon. My character is a silly pirate cook who loves fish. Her voice is a lot of fun and the songs are hysterical!

The authors I’ve worked with are a joy, with amazing stories and beautifully rich characters. That’s what I look for when I’m chosing my next book to narrate. I want interesting characters and a strong story that I can latch onto and believe in. It is obvious when a narrator doesn’t like what they are reading.



Visit ANDREA EMMES on her website, on Twitter, and on Facebook


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Experience ELFKIND Audio!


14 October 2014 | Los Angeles, CA

Visit for contact details, review samples, photos, and an author bio.


ELFKIND Audio—available on Amazon, Audibles & iTunes, 31 October, 2014!

A young woman must find the strength to overcome great loss and hardship if she wants to save not only herself and her people, but the Elvin kingdom as well. This engaging tale by Catherine Cruzan is written with the finesse of a savvy feminine perspective.  It is brought to life in audio format, as told by brilliant actor-performer-artist, Andrea Emmes (

Catherine Cruzan is breaking new ground in the world of Young Adult (YA) Fantasy with epic flare. Elfkind is the first in a series of books set in a realm dominated by intriguing characters and complex storytelling.  It has received high praise from talented peers, critics and readers alike.

“An intriguing fantasy adventure.”      ~Tim Powers, author of On Stranger Tides & Hide Me Among the Graves

“In ELFKIND, Catherine Cruzan crafts a vibrant new world filled with adventure and magic from an exciting feminine perspective. The deft storytelling, engaging characters and poignant prose combine to create an exceptional debut that not only satisfies, but leaves readers eager for the next installment in this epic fantasy series. “       ~DeAnna Cameron, author of The Belly Dancer & Dancing at the Chance

“ELFKIND is a fluid, well-paced tale by a bright new voice in the genre.”      ~Tony N. Todaro, author of the Lightriders Saga

Andrea Emmes has been called “The Girl with a Thousand Voices”, and for good reason. Each and every character in the book is uniquely crafted, giving the story a vibrant, lively flavor.  She is a SAG-AFTRA member, having been a voice over actor for over 12 years, and a performer for over 20 years.  “Keep your ear out for her, because she’s really going places!”  ~ Sean Pratt, Audiobook narrator, actor, author.

Catherine Cruzan is an avid Fantasy reader and fan-girl in her own right, having been influenced by her exposure to J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Jules Verne and so many others from a young age. Chapter and audio samples from her short works and her first full-length novel, Elfkind, are available on her website.   She is currently working on the next installment in her epic Fantasy series.

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A Writer’s Journey – Catherine Cruzan – Part 3

My author friend, Sophia Ann Montoya, continues our discussion about writing–what goes into it, what a writer should be focused on as they hone their craft, and some basic elements to improving as a writer in general.

Me_cut2b-HANDSShe likes to blend these types of interviews with a mosaic of her subject’s interests and adventures, because it broadens the palette and makes it more interesting.  For this segment, she chose one of my dance photos, when I was a member in a troupe called Rasa Shakti.  We blended American bellydance, classical Indian, Flamenco and tribal style dance with modern and world fusion music.  It was definitely a fun time in my life.  I still count my Rasa Shakti ladies amongst the best of my friends.

Visit Sophia’s website for Part 3 of our discussion about A Writer’s Journey:


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Things to do in LA: SHADES & SHADOWS at CIA

clownJuly 19, 2014, I did my first live reading from my novel ELFKIND at the most amazing event: Shades & Shadows.

If you’ve never attended a live reading in LA, you definitely need to check one out.  The California Institute of Abnormal Arts is a wild choice for this kind of thing—like Beetlejuice’s imagination come to life in a quaint North Hollywood house-turned-venue packed with rare circus artifacts and sideshow oddities.  I’d done some dance shows at this location in past years, so I was excited to return to their stage.

stage bar hallway patio

marqueeSeeing my name on the marquee reduced me to the emotional stability of a two-year-old child, because I honestly thought I’d go my entire life without experiencing anything like it.  I had to photograph it for posterity, given the likelihood of it ever happening again.

hostsOur hosts, Xach Fromson and Lauren Candia, are fantastic writers in their own right.  And I’ve just adopted Lauren as my new style guru, with her retro chic hair and makeup, and flirty fifties dresses.  She’s the pride of pinup girls around the globe.

ericBram Stoker award winning author Eric J. Guignard was first up at the microphone, reading an excerpt from “Midnight and Jefe Bowman”.  Rather than me tell you about it, I suggest you experience it for yourself on YouTube:  He was terrific with his narration and the many voices of his characters.

It intimidated me to follow such a talented artist, and this was my first time reading.  I also made the fatal mistake of practicing one excerpt during the week, only to change my selection immediately before taking the stage, thinking it would be more exciting.  This only added to the butterflies tearing up my stomach.  And needless to say, I completed a seven minute reading in under six.  My apologies to the audience!

scottAfter my six minutes, it was nice to relax again, and enjoy Scott Tarbet read from his story “Tombstone”.  It was another inspiring performance with Scott’s great voice and fun characterizations—definitely something for me to strive for.

XachOur host, Xach Fromson, read from one of his new shorts next.  I enjoyed the story a lot.  He’s a great writer.  And considering it was only his second time reading, he did so well I was convinced that I could come back for a do-over that I could be proud of.

jeffJeff Eyres can easily double as a standup comedian.  The man is completely entertaining, and utterly funny.  The pages you see him holding here are blank, as his first instinct was to complete the audience’s expectations for a “reading”.  But since his printer prevented the actuality, he gave us a rote recitation of his short story “Bugs”.   I promise you the entire audience walked away feeling like kings and queens of the cockroaches.

mereI warmed to Mere Smith the moment I saw her, because she is the spitting image of a dear friend of mine.  I almost grabbed her into a hug before remembering my friend had moved away.  And if that wasn’t enough, the woman wrote for one of my favorite shows, Angel.   At CIA, she read “Dead Girl” from her book COWFACE and other hilarious stories about death.  I laughed the whole time and freaking loved it.

Suffice it to say, me and my girls were mesmerized by the talent surrounding us Saturday night.

My author friend, Sophia Ann Montoya, later commented she’d never seen me nervous before, despite the many times she’d seen me take the stage as a performer, speaker and show producer.  I pondered this further, and came to the conclusion that I should have approached the reading as a performer rather than as myself at a mic, exposing something as personal as my own words.

trioPerhaps only another writer can understand how daunting it is to strip away everything else so as to bare one’s soul beneath a spotlight.  We publish our books in hopes of everyone reading our stories, after all, so what is the fuss over reading a few pages, right?  But I think there is something more to reading your own pages than there is to bringing any other kind of performance to the stage.

Theatrical productions require the performers to don a persona, complete with costuming, hair, makeup, and more often than not, someone else’s words.  Tribal style dancers sport ten pounds of hair and makeup, and lavish costuming that would make anyone feel like a completely different person.  We use props and layers of silk fabrics in every color you could imagine.  Story-telling dance takes it a step further as the performers bring fanciful tales to life.  And announcers are still a part of the act, with their own personas to share.

Public speaking strips a lot of that away, yet still, you step out of yourself a bit into the story of whatever topic you’re presenting, and again it feels like play-acting.  For us teacher-types, sharing what little knowledge we possess, the stage becomes a mere broadening of the classroom.

In the end, I discovered something as a result of this new experience: I have a profound and unmitigated respect for anyone willing to step in front of a mic with their own words.  Each and every one of my fellow readers impressed the hell out of me Saturday night.  I’ll definitely be back for more.  You can count on that.  I may or may not bring it to the mic again myself (hold the applause, jokesters), but I am certainly down for more of them.