Saturday, June 4, 2016

"The Americans" narrated by Michael Holmes

The Americans:
11 True Stories of Challenge and Wonder
by Michael Fuller, David Vachon, Paul Chrastina, and Rick Bromer
Narrated and produced by Michael Holmes

I am joined today by Michael Holmes, narrator and producer of the audiobook, The Americans: 11 True Stories of Challenge and Wonder, also available in Kindle format. Read on for my interview with Michael, a guest post by Michael, an excerpt from the audiobook, as well as my review and our exclusive giveaway.

Here are tales of adventurers, gifted and determined, who enriched our lives as they lived theirs with spirit and grit. Francis Scott Key, who turned glorious patriot as he saw Fort McHenry’s defenders bombed but not bowed. Amelia Earhart, who became a famous pilot before she could fly. Slaves William and Ellen Craft, who ran a thousand miles for freedom using audacity and ingenious disguise. Butch Cassidy and Sundance, Barnum, Twain, Dix. The first female doctor, a Civil War spy, the sharpshooting Quaker girl of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, and the man who banished pain. Meet them all - discover the TRUE stories about the people you only thought you knew.
You can find the print versions of these and many more stories from

Audio Excerpt

Click below to read an excerpt from the Kindle edition.

Praise for the Book
"Who knew? Most everybody loves a good story. For me in particular, not so much. Unless ... it is a good story about real events which happened to real people. Then it becomes both compelling and full of intrigue. Imagining what it must have been like to actually be there in a different time and place, I was struck by how vastly different society was when these characters walked American soil, and yet how human nature hasn't changed at all. From the inspirational life of Amelia Earhart, to the scandalous escapades of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, to the amazing stories of obscure people I have never heard of, I was drawn in to each one's world and amazed by their courage, audacity, and vision. This is just a sampling of countless people of similar talent and ambition who have made America a great nation, The narrator delivers the stories in a smooth manner that is easy to listen to, and provides just enough background music and sound effects to bring the stories to life. I am already listening to it a second time ... and no, I am not a history buff. " ~ A. Good
"An enjoyable experience. I enjoyed the stories. Although I thought I knew about these people, I learned something new in each story. The narrator was excellent; not overdone so as to be tiring, but with just the right amount of intensity to add to the story." ~ Tom Manley
"Informative and well produced. I'm a documentary film maker and discovered this book doing research on a possible future project. I found the stories engaging and well told. The production is top notch with music and sound effects used to help "paint" a visual picture of the stories as they unfold. I think the narrator is spot on, not too sing-songy or overly dramatic, and he speaks with a warmth and feeling for the subject in a clear strong tone." ~ Paul
"Crisp writing, meaningful stories and highly listenable delivery by the talented Mike Holmes. Highly recommended." ~ Keith
"I heard about this audible and was intrigued by a couple of the stories. I loved it! Francis Scott Key's story, with appropriate sound effects, was very entertaining as well as educational. I am not a history buff but I thoroughly enjoyed hearing these stories. I highly recommend the audible." ~ Summer540
"Fascinating, well told stories - a true testament to the American Spirit!" ~ Mark

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
This is an interesting and educational collection of eleven short biographies of Americans who showed great courage and determination. The Americans featured are: Amelia Earhart, the first female to cross the Atlantic Ocean in 1928 and the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932; Doctor William Morton, a dentist who first publicly demonstrated the use of inhaled ether as a surgical anesthetic in 1846; Dorothea Dix, an activist on behalf of the insane, who created the first generation of American mental asylums in the 1800s; Phineas Taylor Barnum, a showman and businessman remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the Barnum & Bailey Circus; Francis Scott Key, a lawyer, author, and amateur poet who wrote the lyrics to the American national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner"; Elizabeth Blackwell who, although British-born, was notable as the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States in 1849; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, notorious for a series of bank and train robberies in the 1890s; Lafayette Baker, an investigator and spy serving the Union Army during the American Civil War, who later became the head of the federal secret service; William and Ellen Craft, slaves from Georgia, who escaped to Philadelphia in the North in 1848; Annie Oakley, a renowned markswoman and star who worked with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in the 1800s; and Sam Clemens, a riverboat pilot and Confederate soldier who later became known as writer Mark Twain.
This collection contains the stories of a nice mixture of male and female American legends. Some I had only heard of and some I knew well; however, I learned something new about them all. The biographies provide a wealth of information told in a story-like manner, full of intimate details, conversations, action, and suspense. The narration by Michael Holmes holds the listener's attention and is enhanced by a musical background and sound effects at key points during the stories.
My only complaint is that, in the Audible edition, the chapters should be labelled and the narration should include the chapter names to clarify which story we are listening to. This information, as well as the authors' names, are included in the Kindle edition.
An interesting - as well as educational and entertaining - collection, well worth a listen.

Interview With the Narrator
Michael Holmes joins me today to discuss his audiobook, The Americans: 11 True Stories of Challenge and Wonder
For what age group do you recommend your book?
Ages 35+.
What sparked the idea for this book?
I found the 11 stories in a periodical called Old News ( and was enchanted by them. I'm a long-time subscriber.
How do you hope this book affects its readers/listeners?
They are stories about people we know probably little other than what we learned in school. Each story lets us look into their (very interesting) lives. I believe that when we read about the life of a real person, we take wisdom from that person's story and apply it to our own lives.
How long did it take you to produce this book?
I narrated and produced it over the course of a year.
How did you get your audiobook published?
I listed it with Audiobook Creation Exchange, a division of Amazon.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Have an absolute love for your subject and the clear conviction that people will enjoy it as you do.
What do you like to do when you're doing this kind of work?
I play music for pleasure and in a professional group.
What does your family think of this project?
They're very supportive. They think I'm hot!
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
My father was the Final Authority in Electrochemistry at the Naval Research Laboratory. He passed away when I was six. I had a low self-image childhood and escaped into books, reading mainly about the history of technology, chiefly that of the US. I played music with groups, rode horses, enjoyed the company of older people, which I still very much enjoy. They are more interesting than anyone else! 
Did you like reading when you were a child?
I lived in books.
Who are your favorite writers?
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I'd like to do another series like The Americans. I'm also writing a book on how to start and be in a rock and roll band, the purpose of which is to allow people just starting out how to avoid mistakes most groups make technically, musically, and with regard to group dynamics. 
Thanks so much for joining us today, Michael. Best of luck with your future projects.

Guest Post by the Narrator
How this Audiobook Came About
Almost 20 years ago I found a cool periodical called Old News in my mailbox and subscribed to after I’d read the first three paragraphs of the lead story. Old News is stories about people from every continent, from ancient times until about the 1940’s. Each story is about someone who faced a challenge and how he or she met it.
I am a writer and producer of audio for a range of publications plus broadcast. I found the stories in Old News so compelling that I asked the publisher, Rick Bromer, if he’d like to hear audio versions of some of the stories. Rick was pleased to hear them and encouraged me to do an audiobook of them. 
I find the subjects of the stories – Twain, Key, Butch Cassidy, Amelia Earhart, Annie Oakley, plus 6 more – to be at once fascinating people of their times, but feel kinship with them as their human foibles and frailties come through as well. The stories allow me to feel I am on their journeys with them. With judicious care I have chosen occasional music and ambience to enhance that feeling of being there. 
I’m happy with customer observations that "The narrator delivers the stories in a smooth manner that is easy to listen to, and provides just enough background music and sound effects to bring the stories to life." And "An entertaining and informative dose of the American spirit. Something that is desperately needed today. Slip it into your kids' iPod and they just may discover what this country's all about." I couldn’t ask for more gratifying comments. 

About the Narrator
In college I met a guy who was Program Director of the brand-new campus radio station, WMRA-FM. He got me an air shift, and I discovered to my delight that I had a natural ability to write scripts and combine them with music and sound effects. I became Program Director of a local radio station and wrote their commercials.
In 1981 a friend gave a cassette to a major agency writer, who critiqued 10 commercials I had produced and put on it. He told me I did great production and that I didn't know a thing about advertising. So he decided to teach me, and over two years I soaked up every word.
Since then I've produced for Billy Graham, Merck Pharmaceuticals, done travel CD's, radio and television commercials, corporate video, and arranged music for a video phonics course. I discover the heartbeat of what you want to say and record it.

Enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win an audiobook of The Americans narrated by Michael Holmes (US/Canada or anyone who has access to Audible).