A story about a middle-aged married couple might not sound very exciting. But when they harbor as many secrets as Bud and Maggie Remmick, intrigue, betrayal and lost love all come into play. Add to that the looming menace of TV and social media exposure and you have Bud & Maggie’s Secrets, the third and final in the series of stories about a couple stalked by corruption, political intrigue, human frailty and Bud’s lifelong struggle with anger.
It’s bad enough that Bud killed his network television boss and went to jail in Budland, then got out and went straight, but with baggage that weighed heavily not only on himself but on Maggie in Killer Competition. Now, DNA tests reveal a devastating reality about Bud while Maggie seeks solace from a convenient and compliant co-worker who stirs her desire from the fog of her own denial.
Budland” is a cautionary tale about unfettered anger and its consequences. In what world does an otherwise everyday guy named Bud, loved by his employees, empathetic and grounded, lose his mind and kill his boss? Sure, the boss is a heinous monster who is blackmailing a female employee and sexually abusing her. But where does it say you can take the law into your own hands and kill, even if the target is a monster? These questions echo through Bud’s mind as he does his time in a New Jersey prison and carves out his own righteous rationale for killing and living with it. But his logic unravels as his wife and lawyer both abandon him and his cell mate turns on him. Welcome to “Budland.”
Matt Giroveanu’s textured and character-driven narration makes “Budland” an audiobook you will immediately be drawn into. It’s on the shorter side, maybe a few drives with the windows closed and the AC on will do it. There’s nothing complicated or ponderous about “Budland.” Give it a listen on Audible.
(Fanwood, NJ)—Fanwood Councilman Tom Kranz has published his third novel, Time Travel Rescue, a science fiction thriller in which climate change turns Earth into a dying dystopia.
Living in a wasteland that is beyond repair becomes too much for Rick who, like most of those left on the planet in 2212, works for the Big Five mega-corporation. A chance, online meeting with a young hacker named Chen leads to a perilous journey through a wormhole back to the 21st century where he and Chen hope to set things right before they go terribly wrong. Unbeknownst to Rick is Chen’s propensity for violence and her murderous exploits complicate an otherwise altruistic mission.
Rick’s 21st century guide, the smart and attractive Jill Strawbridge, introduces him to the charms and challenges of life 157 years before he was born. Their time together sparks mutual curiosity that draws them into something more than just a working relationship.
“Writing science fiction was harder than I thought it would be,” Kranz said. “It’s the science that makes science fiction intriguing. I tried not to get bogged down in too much nerd-speak because I’m not a visionary or a physics expert, but I had some ideas on what the future might look like if we keep abusing the environment and ignoring the signs of the damage we’re doing. There is a lot of information available from people smarter than me on how our world will be affected in as few as thirty years from now.”
Kranz researched some of the elements of his story with help from his brother-in-law, John Kamal, a Philadelphia public school science teacher with a Master’s in mechanical engineering and a previous life designing power systems for NASA. He holds a patent for the nuclear-powered device like the one that saved Matt Damon’s character in The Martian.
“I bounced a couple ideas off John about what kinds of power and propulsion systems personal-sized vehicles might need to take off and fly for extended periods and reach great speeds, and whether it could happen in our century,” Kranz says. “I think he found it fun. But my emphasis in science fiction is definitely on the fiction.”
When was the last time someone read you a story? If it hasn’t been since kindergarten, it might be time to rediscover this simple pleasure being enjoyed by people around the world in growing numbers.
Audiobooks require only that you listen which, for some, is a daunting task right off the bat. But for the rest of us, letting your mind wander to a new place through a story read by a friendly voice is a worthy escape.
The car is the #1 place for listening, but plenty of people listen at home
The most popular genre is Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense
U.S. audiobook sales in 2019 totaled $1.2 billion, up 16% from the previous year
The average audiobook fan listens to eight books a year
As you can see, having someone read to you is totally acceptable for adults. And why not? People are reading fewer books, newspapers and magazines in favor of bite-sized info chunks on their phones and tablets. Listening to a story while driving, sitting at home or in-secret while feigning interest in a ZOOM meeting is a passive pursuit that requires no more concentration than required for safe driving.
The beautiful things about audiobooks are:
The gear you have to purchase to enjoy them: none.The vast majority are downloaded to smartphones or other devices that go with you anywhere. You can still buy some on CD, but why?
Celebrity narrators—Reese Witherspoon, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Viola Davis to name just a few–and it’s not unusual for high-profile authors to narrate their own books–Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, David Sedaris, Questlove, Tiffany Hadish come to mind.
It’s a performance,right in your car, sparking imagination, inspiration and random good feeling.
Freebiesare availablefrom authors eager to collect reviews or word-of mouth. Join a Facebook group such as Audiobooks for Free where you can get promo codes for free audiobook downloads IF you promise to leave an honest review afterwards (reviews are the currency of independent authors).
Finally, creating an audiobook is easier than ever and can be done totally for free IF you are willing to be your own narrator or IF you can find a narrator who will do the work without any upfront money. The latter is harder than ever. Most no longer rely on a simple “royalty share” and want you to agree to a “per finished hour” rate of $50 to $200 or more. If your book runs 5 hours or more of read time, you can see how that adds up. But, you can explore the options further at acx.com, the site owned by Audible/Amazon where it’s all explained in detail. ACX.com, it should be noted, is designed for audiobooks destined for Audible/Amazon/iBooks. There are other venues if you want your audiobook to be distributed beyond Audible and iBooks.
Can you think of a better time in recent history to indulge in story time? Listen up!
“Killer Competition” is both a sequel to “Budland” and a perfectly fine stand-alone crime drama. It helps to have read “Budland”, but it’s not mandatory.
In the new audiobook version read by John Cantees, Bud Remmick is out of jail and crafting a new life on the straight-and-narrow in a new town. His wife Maggie does the same. Each enjoys modest success in their new lives, Bud returning to his former career in TV news and Maggie moving a step up in the world as director of a county program for senior citizens. Bud also finds peace helping the people of his small town as a volunteer EMT with the local rescue squad, his way of finding redemption for past sins.
Unfortunately, both are still dogged by Bud’s past as an admitted killer. His newsroom colleagues, especially the younger ones, constantly give him sideways glances while is boss wonders if he is still capable of killing. Meanwhile, Bud finds out a freelance photographer who’s worked for the station for several years has actually committed crimes and videotaped them to sell to the station. At the same time, Maggie comes under the thumb of the corrupt governor of Pennsylvania who seeks to boot her out of her job to make way for a patronage hack.
John Cantees gives a comfortable and compelling read for this audiobook version of my novel. I’m really happy with his listenability and the emotion he injects where appropriate. This is a great listen while driving, sitting through a boring ZOOM meeting or escaping the daily drudgery of COVID. “Killer Competition” has enough twists and surprises to keep you interested right until the end.