Author: J.S. Jaeger
Narrator: R.J. Walker
Length: 5 hours 55 minutes
Series: Scrolls of Zndaria, Book 1
Publisher: Golden Wizard Publishing
Released: Sep. 26, 2017
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Join Nathanial "Nate" McGray, the 15-year-old son of the king's woodsman, on an unforgettable adventure. He is determined to be the first peasant to become a wizard in the magical world of Zndaria. Wedged in a sticky spot, Nate is saved from the town bullies by a mysterious elf named Blinkly. Together, Nate and Blinkly embark on a journey to the Halls of Magic. Along the way, they encounter vicious Dread Vikings, deadly bounty hunters, and a deranged beast. Just as Nate begins to learn magic, the Infinite Wizard and a devilish army attack his kingdom. Will Nate become a wizard? Can he save his kingdom? The story unfolds in the Scrolls of Zndaria: The Golden Wizard.
Parents to four wonderful children, Jerry and Stephanie Jaeger enjoy working together as J.S. Jaeger to write uplifting, entertaining stories. Jerry overcame bullying to earn his black belt in Kempo Karate. He served as a special agent for the FBI and currently works as a prosecutor. Stephanie ran her own accounting practice for several years before turning her focus to writing Scrolls of Zndaria with Jerry. Together, they are excited to bring readers of all ages into the magical world of Zndaria.
RJ Walker is a performance poet and voice actor from Salt Lake City, Utah. RJ Has performed at the national poetry slam numerous times, representing Salt Lake City, and Sugar House Utah. At the Individual World Poetry Slam he was a showcased poet on final stage and placed 6th overall at the 2017 Individual world poetry slam. RJ won the NPS Spirit of the Slam award for organizing the first Compliment Deathmatch event. RJ has narrated over 28 audiobooks and produced 2 albums of spoken word poetry. He is also an actor and game designer for Mystery Escape Room in Salt Lake City.
- Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
- We believe almost any book can be a great audiobook, if the right narrator is chosen. Pictures books would be trickier, since the illustrations are often an integral part of the story, but an audiobook could be used for younger readers to follow along with the book.
- How did you select your narrator?
- We had been considering doing an audiobook for sometime but hadn’t taken steps in that direction. At the 2017 Salt Lake Comic Con, a gentleman approached our booth and took our first page challenge (to read the first page and see if you want to keep reading). He read the paragraph with enthusiasm and depth. His badge said “special guest.” It turned out that he was an audiobook narrator/producer. We were quite certain at that moment that RJ Walker would produce our audiobook.
- How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
- RJ and Stephanie were in regular contact during the process. We initially met with RJ, and he shared his ideas about giving each race in our world a different accent/voice. There were definitely some names and items that had special pronunciation, but there were others we’d always said one way that RJ said differently, and we’ve adopted his way of pronouncing them.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- Stephanie listens to audiobooks on a regular basis. In the past year, she’s discovered it’s a fabulous way to get through her to-be-read list since she has little time to sit down and read. Using audiobooks, she’s able to “read” while exercising, driving, doing housework, etc.
- If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
- Because our series is the story of five unlikely heroes, our characters would be cast with unknown actors. Our second daughter, Mandy, would love to play Cenaya, the hero in our second book, The Alamist Queen. She named that character and we sent her picture to the illustrator when she was drawn. When we are determining how Cenaya would act, we think of Mandy’s personality.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- We see the advantage of reading printed words when it comes to learning the spelling and pronunciation of words. When our eight-year-old daughter wants to count listening to an audiobook for her school reading, she has to follow along with the physical book. In saying that, there are great advantages to reading by listening to an audiobook. You still get to experience the story, you see what works or doesn’t work, and you get to open your mind to new ideas.
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- If you want to be an author, you need to start writing. The only guarantee as an author is that if you don’t start, you’ll never finish. Once you’ve started writing, don’t stress perfection in the beginning. That’s why there’s an editing process. We call the first draft our vomit draft because you have to get the ideas on paper and usually they don’t come out the way you picture them in your mind. Don’t get hung up on that. Write that rough, ugly draft then go back and make it beautiful.
- Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
- We learned several things from The Golden Wizard for future audiobooks. First, plan on putting time into it. Once your narrator records the book, you have to take the time to listen to each section. You are giving your final approval before the book is released, and you need to love it. To make that process easier, our second suggestion is to make a one page summary listing all the characters in your book. How do you pronounce their names? What are their personalities? Is there anything you know about the story that affects how a scene should be read that your narrator needs to know? Give your narrator as much information as possible to reduce the amount of re-recording that will be needed. Finally, expect greatness, but don’t sweat the really small stuff. Stephanie was quite meticulous when reviewing the recording of Golden Wizard to the extent that she requested changes when the word “the” was used instead of “a”. By all means, request changes that are needed for the story but know that it may be difficult for your narrator to exactly match the tone and flow of the original recording so reserve those changes for the necessary ones.
- What’s next for you?
- We are continuing forward with our Scrolls of Zndaria series and the short story series, Short Scrolls of Zndaria, that parallels it. Jerry is halfway done writing the third main scroll, and Stephanie is starting one of the final reworks of the second short scroll, Healing Hands.
The story was well written and takes you on a magical journey with Nate, a 15 year old boy who is bullied and stutters. Nate dreams of becoming a wizard, but in his land a peasant has never been chosen to be a wizard. Despite the odds, Nate gains favor with the red wizard and is selected to embark on an action-packed journey. the whole while you wonder if he will be able to overcome his shortcomings to become a wizard. The authors, J S Jaeger, have told a great epic in just the first book in the series. The dialogue is brilliantly done by RJ Walker, the narrator, who helped to bring to life a tapestry of interesting characters who are not all as they seem. The story has a few larger vocabulary words, which are explained in the text of the story quite well. I enjoyed the laughter and tears in this story which is sure to hold any ones interest. The narrator uses accents and inflection to convey various characters, but the same accent is used for the elves or trolls, ect. to show which type of creature is speaking. I thought this was an excellent touch. There are lots of pearls of wisdom in this story of overcoming adversity. I think it is a good book for those readers/listeners who might be dealing with bullying or striving toward a goal or even those who have experienced loss. While the book is for a middle school reader, it can be easily read by older readers with a lower reading level or by younger readers with a higher reading level. As it is not watered down nor condescending in any way. It is a great introduction into the world of the sci fi/ fantasy genre. It could easily be used as a summer reader.
The authors, J S Jaeger, wove the story seamlessly. There are no choppy or left out bits and in the end it doesn't leave a major cliff hanger making it not only the start to a great series , but also an awesome stand alone book as well. The characters, while mythical, are believable and most are well rounded with complex personalities. It has a few plot twists that helped continue interest and suspense. It is a fun story, which was enhanced by the audio. The narrator, JR Walker, was able to bring each character's unique personality to light while continuing to maintain an accent designated to each creature. He spoke for both girls and boys in this story and with changes in his voice was able to convey who was speaking and their emotional state. He really made the story come to life. The audio was clear and the narrator spoke in at an easy to follow pace making this a great production as well. I will look forward to reading/listening to more books by these wonderful authors and this talented narrator.
Amazon/Goodreads rating: 4/5
In Patti's Imagination rating: 8.5/10
The Golden Wizard Giveaway: $10 Amazon Gift Card Jun. 28th: Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews Jun. 29th: Happily Ever BookWorm Jun. 30th: J.R.'s Book Reviews Jul. 1st: In Patti's Imagination Jul. 2nd: Jazzy Book Reviews Jul. 3rd: The Reading Bud Jul. 4th: The Book Addict's Reviews
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