Category Archives: Genre – Fantasy Stories

IPPY Gold Award for “Crow Country” Audiobook

I’m thrilled to announce that my recent project, Emily Sullivan’s gritty dystopian adventure Crow Country, has been recognized with a 2023 Gold Award for Best Fiction Audiobook by Independent Publisher.

How Did That Happen!

It’s been some time since I learned the good news from Ms. Sullivan’s publisher, and I still feel a sense of unreality about this. I think everyone enjoys recognition; several years back after being laid off, I made a decision to aim for work that I loved doing, and then see if I could make ends meet with that. If I get a three-line thank you note from a student at the end of a long school year, I honestly get all teary.

Narration is also hard work, but I hardly notice. The challenge of crafting another author’s tale into audio form is something, much like teaching History, that I feel practically born to. This project was probably the most extensive: more than ten hours, tough character distinctions, and very precise feedback from the rights holders who continually asked about this FX, that voice. Tiny changes to volume and pace, I went back over some chapters eight times for that last little fix.

I think it shows. You be the judge, here’s the sample.

What, Pray Tell, Is an IPPY?

Independent Publisher recognizes quality work from indy authors, including small publishing houses that issue fewer than a hundred titles a year. They have received thousands of entries each year since 1996.

When the publisher told me she was putting the book in for an award, I figured it would be one of those electron-microscope categories such as you see on Amazon: I hoped to be recognized for Best in Near Future Dystopian Fiction Featuring Guns and Aggressive Avians. Or something. But in audiobooks, the IPPY awards go only to Fiction and Non-Fiction.

Check it Out Yourself

Crow Country is available in all formats. Sure, I prefer the audiobook! But I read it first; it’s one of the most impressive pieces of dystopian action I’ve ever encountered. I was immediately drawn to the power of Ms. Sullivan’s writing, and of course I’m a sucker for driven, wounded characters. The closest I’ve seen in other media would be the movie Cowboys and Aliens–how’s that for a comp!


“The print version of Crow Country represents a powerful study in survival and wonder; but an audiobook’s strength rests on its narrator. In this, Crow Country also shines, powered by a reader whose clear and dramatic voice does justice to the power of the written word by bringing it alive.”
D. Donovan, Editor, Donovan’s Literary Services

Retail Links (audio and other formats):



Barnes & Noble

Google Play

Sounds of the Season 5: Arrows and Spears

Because Sometimes Only Hearing is Believing

I’m featuring sounds from my recent audiobook projects, just for fun, and I hope that this feature of my narration work will resonate with authors and listeners. Here are some of the others.

Many times my FX are drawn from a marvelous website called  I cut, slice and alter them using effects found in the Audacity tool (also free to download and use). Sometimes I create the sound myself, using my voice or things to hand.

Featured Sound: Arrows and Spears

Believe it or not there are actually several FX on Freesound for “battle” including medieval-style conflicts. You can hear horses, the clash of swords, men shouting, it’s incredible. Sometimes it’s Live-Action Roleplaying stuff and others I think may be drawn from movie soundtracks. I’ve used them before.

But for the recent prequel to Gilbert Stack’s Legionnaire series, entitled The Jungles of Ekanga, I had a special challenge. During a climactic moment of the action, I needed the sound of Roman soldiers armed with throwing spears being harassed by jungle tribesmen firing arrows. No clashing, no shouts or horses, just impacts. So I crafted it.

Here’s the sound, Arrows and Spears:

How It Sounded

There are many great FX for arrows, but I added some that qualified as “thunk” or “clunk” to get the spear impacts. I also threw in a couple instances of “chopping meat” for the ones that hit their targets. All this was to run under the narration and hopefully not distract too badly from the tale: what you’re hearing is much louder than the volume I used.

How It Looks

I should probably do a post someday on “How I Suck at Searching” because the results of my terms is often both depressing and amusing. Below is one lovely photo I found with “Romans in the jungle”. But I also got pictures from various iterations of “Survivor”; and there is evidently either a person or a product, or both, having to do with ED that, ahm, “comes up” on that search. Sigh…

The Legionnaire series by Gilbert Stack is available through #12 on Amazon and I have the privilege of the first six chapters out on Audible. It is a truly marvelous adventure with epic scope but lovely bite-sized pieces for you to read and enjoy. Start with The Fire Islands if you like, and then later if you find yourself geeking out, come back and enjoy this prequel, the kind of We-Knew-Him-When stuff that the fans really love to hear.