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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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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A Writer’s Journey – Catherine Cruzan – Part 2

My conversation with author friend, Sophia Ann Montoya continues in Part 2.  I hope you enjoy it!


Yokohama Silk Museum

In our discussion, we touch on some of the traveling I’ve done.  In this photo, my friend Monique and I pose with the wonderful Japanese woman who dressed us at the Yokohama Silk Museum.  She was amazing, and spoke no English, so my Japanese skills were stretched.  A lovely Japanese couple joined us and did some translating, though I did okay with the Japanese I had studied.  I’m so glad I learned Hiragana and Katakana, or we would’ve gotten lost in some of the smaller towns we visited over the course of the three weeks we were there!

Future installments of A Writer’s Journey are coming soon!

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POMPEII at the California Science Center

I visited the Pompeii Exhibit at the California Science Center this afternoon.

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It was comprised of an amazing collection of the city’s paintings, mosaics, statuary, jewelry, furniture, fountains, bath items, kitchen utensils, fishing implements, engineering tools, medical instruments, bowls and glassware… What turned out to be my favorite part of the exhibit—the gladiator armor and weaponry… And ultimately a glimpse of the poor souls caught in Mt. Vesuvius’ violent expulsion.  There was even an adults-only room with household items decorated in phallic imagery intended to enhance a family’s virility, strength and power both at home and within the community.

exhibit city_map Vesuvius

The history lesson opens with a look at a the layout of the houses, which not only served the family’s needs, but also hosted guests and business associates, as well as political attachés.  The dwellings were arranged around an atrium or garden, ornamented with elegant Frescos and marble statuary, designed to display the family’s wealth.  The residents often brought the furniture outside and dined beneath the stars in good weather.  At least that was the life of the elite.  The majority of Pompeii residents were poor, and lived in modest apartments.

Hercules plaster fresco Dionysus Dionysus_txt fountain table table2 statuary

In the next two rooms, the lesson continues with a glimpse of residents’ sea-dwelling life—implements of fishing, farming and commerce, and associated furniture and kitchen-wares.  Amphora, or jugs, for olive oil and Garum stand as tall as a ten-year-old child.  Garum, a fermented fish sauce used for flavoring bland food, was one of Pompeii’s largest exports, and they were known throughout the Roman empire for it.  One of their wealthiest citizens, Asulus Umbricius, amassed his fortune from producing and selling garum.

dining Samovar mosaic bronze_balance anchor wine_amphora sickle lamp cooking amphora

The next big room is a plethora of artifacts representing Pompeii life, ranging from a temperature controlled bathtub and bathing implements, to blown glass, gold jewelry, a glimpse of theatrical life, engineering and medicine, and a gladiator’s tools of the trade.  It is truly amazing how advanced their technology was in the first century, as evidenced by the tiny, tiny links in the gold chains, the intricately formed glassware, the elaborately adorned bronze armor and helms, their hydraulic valves, and even a sophisticated specula.

tub bathing theater wine_vase2 Rhyton wine_vase glass_bowl snake gold_chain  armor helm armor2 specula medicine_box hydraulic_pump

After a well-rendered cinematic recreation of the 48 hour period during which the volcano erupted, the movie screen rises to allow admittance to the final room of the exhibit.  Lying in what amounts to Plexiglas coffins, a few of the victims of the ordeal express their pain.  These are not the actual plaster casts excavated from the Pompeii dig site, but rather resin copies.  Photos of their actual discoveries line the walls behind them.

man child stairs man2 pregnant_woman

It certainly paints a clear picture of the fragility of life, no matter how sophisticated its origins.

 ash volcanos

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BayCon 2014 in Santa Clara, CA

ORIGINALLY POSTED: May 23-26, 2014

How do you spell Triskaidekaphobia?… Memorial Day Weekend at BayCon in Santa Clara, CA

At least, that’s what I found myself asking over the holiday weekend.  I’m not sure I ever gave myself a satisfactory answer…

I’d been looking forward to BayCon for months, given that my GLAWS author friends go on and on about the event with glowing excitement, especially regarding the BayCon goers who tend to be avid readers and SF/F/H aficionados.

In other words — the BayCon peeps are my kind of peeps.

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I dare say, the convention did not fail to live up to their praise, despite the unfortunate drop in attendance due to a rash of newly competing conventions in the Bay area over the holiday weekend.

I spent most of the weekend manning the signing table, meeting lots of fun and interesting people, and sold a respectable number of books, book bags and T-shirts.  My favorite visit was from Wiggles, the trained assitance pup — a sweet little black lab who reminded me of my childhood pet, Lady.

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Saturday night was awesome.  After the Dealer Room closed, I found myself immersed in Star Trek culture, complete with drinks at the Klingon bar, a Klingon slave auction, and even Captain Kirk on the sales block.  All the money collected went to charity, including the $5 I threw down for a drink called “Revenge” served to the tune of a room full of Klingons shouting, “Revenge is a drink best served cold!”

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I even got to enjoy some Taiko drumming!


I will definitely be back next year if they’ll have me.  =)

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