Friday, October 25, 2019

Guest Blogger: Thomas A. Burns, Jr.

Thomas A. Burns, Jr. is the author of the Natalie McMasters Mysteries. He was born and grew up in New Jersey, attended Xavier High School in Manhattan, earned B.S degrees in Zoology and Microbiology at Michigan State University and a M.S. in Microbiology at North Carolina State University. He currently resides in Wendell, North Carolina. As a kid, Tom started reading mysteries with the Hardy Boys, Ken Holt and Rick Brant, and graduated to the classic stories by authors such as A. Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, John Dickson Carr, Erle Stanley Gardner and Rex Stout, to name a few. Tom has written fiction as a hobby all of his life, starting with Man from U.N.C.L.E. stories in marble-backed copybooks in grade school. He built a career as technical, science and medical writer and editor for nearly thirty years in industry and government. Now that he's truly on his own as a novelist, he's excited to publish his own mystery series, as well as to contribute stories about his second most favorite detective to the MX Books of New Sherlock Holmes Stories.

The Growing Popularity of Audiobooks

Audiobooks are currently the fastest growing segment of the electronic publishing industry. Audiobook revenue increased by almost 25 % for a total of nearly a billion US dollars in 2018. There are many reasons for this. People have busier lifestyles than ever before, and it’s increasingly difficult to find the time to read. An audiobook can fill formerly wasted commuting time—just download the audio file to your phone, plug it into the system in your car, and get your daily mystery fix. Some think that audiobooks evoke memories of being read to as a child, and there’s a growing body of evidence that audiobooks can help kids learn to read. They’re also great for the visually impaired, or people with dyslexia or other learning challenges. Downloaded files can be played on multiple devices without losing your place—some Audible books (Amazon) also have the Whispersync feature, which lets you listen and read your book on Kindle, and updates either the print or the audio file as you switch back and forth between devices. Audiobooks have become so popular that the New York Times is even beginning a monthly audiobook bestseller list.

Now I’ve decided to enter the audiobook market with my book Stripper!, the first book in my Natalie McMasters series, to bring Natalie to a wider audience. Natalie McMasters is a detective for the new millennium. As the series opens, Nattie is twenty, short and blonde (OK, it’s bleached!), way cute, and a pre-law student at State. She's also straight, or at least she thinks so. To put herself through school, she's moonlighting as a private detective trainee at her uncle Amos Murdoch's 3M Detective Agency, where the most exciting thing she does is sit in a car, staking out people who’ve claimed workers’ compensation to be sure they’re hurt as badly as they say. It’s the perfect gig for a college student, because she can study on the job. But one day she directly confronts a subject on a stakeout, and Amos fires her. Then she meets another student who bears an uncanny resemblance to her, and everything in her life changes. When her new best friend is brutally murdered and Amos is critically injured, Nattie immerses herself in the seamy world of web cams and strip clubs to hunt the killer. Her investigation forces her to reassess many of the ideas that she’s lived by her whole life and do things she’s never considered before – strip on a stage, question her sexuality, and rediscover the meaning of love itself. Nattie eventually exposes a drug ring, police corruption, and an assassin-for-hire online. Then she stumbles upon the true face of evil, and her encounter does not leave her unscathed. The Natalie McMasters Mysteries have done fairly well, with about 11,000 copies in circulation world-wide, and I hope that will greatly increase as the Natalie McMasters series becomes available on audio.

The narrator of an audio book is arguably just as important as the author. Remember that college professor who lulled you to sleep with his droning voice? That’s definitely the narrator you do not want for your audiobook. However, many audiobook narrators are actually voice actors who can bring a story alive. The talented Lisa Ware, of Voices from lsware, who reads Stripper!, is one such narrator. Lisa captures Nattie’s voice perfectly, as well as those of the other diverse characters in the story. I’m sure you’ll find her work enjoyable.

The audio version of Stripper! is scheduled for release sometime in November, 2019. Look for it on the Amazon page for Stripper!. I’m also looking for audiobook reviewers. Anyone interested can contact me on my website, and I’ll send you a credit (provided by Audible) for a free audio copy, if you’ll commit to leaving a review on Amazon.

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