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2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 0 books toward her goal of 200 books.

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Interview: Rob Dircks, Author of One of My Favorite Series AND the New Title You’re Going to Mars!

Today I’m beyond pleased to bring you a LONG OVERDUE (sorry Rob!) interview with one of my favorite authors, Rob Dircks. You may recall having seen me gush like a schoolgirl about his Tesla series (Where The Hell is Tesla? and Don’t Touch the Blue Stuff!) last year. Well, Rob has a new book out on Audible. You’re Going to Mars! is in a slightly different style, but every bit as good as the earlier books. And I have it on good authority – The Husband has listened (I don’t do audiobooks) and told me it was fantastic with excellent narration, a great plot/premise, and well crafted characters. Since he usually just says “it was good” – or says nothing at all – this is high praise indeed! Anyway, here’s a glimpse into Rob’s brain on the new book. Make sure to check him out – his stuff is always a great read/listen!

Interview with Rob Dircks
Author of You’re Going to Mars! (among others, see here for a full list)

How did you come up with the idea for You’re Going to Mars!?
To start with, I’ve always been intrigued by space travel, our spirit of exploration, and Mars in particular because it’s got enough mystery around it to make you wonder about life elsewhere, off-world colonization, and our future as a species. And, totally unrelated, I also love the absurdity of some reality shows, like the crazier the better. So at some point, I wrote down this sentence: “What if the most unlikely person in the world won a spot on a reality show for a chance to go to Mars?” And BOOM – this story started popping into my head.

You’re Going to Mars! is an Audible Original. What’s that?
Audible, in addition to being the main audiobook seller out there, is also a publisher, like a traditional publishing house. So they contacted me after seeing a couple of my audiobooks selling well and getting good reviews, and asked me what I was working on. When I told them about my Mars premise, they were like, “Cool. Let’s produce that one.” So I wrote it for Audible, and the award-winning Khristine Hvam recorded it, and now they’ve got an audiobook exclusive for six months.

This is the first time you haven’t narrated your own work. What was that like?
It was tougher than I thought! It was the first time my main character (and most of the secondary characters) were female, so Audible and I agreed that a female narrator would be appropriate. I didn’t think much of it while I was writing, but when I handed over the manuscript, I was suddenly stricken with fear: what if she’s not what I imagined sounding like? What if I hate it? The loss of control was something I definitely wasn’t used to. Luckily, Khristine is such a talent and a total pro, so the audio turned out better than I had hoped. I actually had a moment where I said to myself, “Wow, she IS Paper.” (the main character’s name is Paper.)

How long did it take you to write You’re Going to Mars!? What was a typical writing day on that like?
It took about nine months, about the same time as my last three books. That seems to be the right amount of time for me, I don’t know why, and yes, the nine-months thing sounds like I’m having a baby, and in a way it does feel like that. Not the pain, etc., God I would never pretend to understand the pain women must go through to give birth! But more like I’m giving birth to something I’ve nurtured for so long, and it really is like my little offspring, going out into the world, and I’m all proud like a dad. It’s wonderful. A typical day while writing it? Get up early, 7am or so, get my head clear, make a smoothie, do maybe fifteen minutes of journaling/joke writing to loosen up my brain and fingers, then settle in to about a four-hour stretch of nothing but writing, with as few distractions as possible. Then nine months later? Waaaahhhh! It’s born!

Now that it’s out there in the world, what’s next?
I’m digging deep into several stories. First, I’ve got a couple of sci-fi shorts almost done for my podcast Listen To The Signal (, which will also be released as an audiobook collection in February. Then I’ve got another Where the Hell is Tesla? book behind that, the third in the series. And finally (for now), I’m doing research for a sci-fi comedy novel about a young A.I. programmer who has to take his crotchety old dad and rambunctious younger brother on a life-or-death chase to save all their lives. You can follow it all by signing up for my newsletter at

About the Author/Narrator
Rob Dircks is the Audible bestselling author of Where the Hell is Tesla? The Wrong Unit, Don’t Touch the Blue Stuff!, and a member of SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America). His prior work includes the anti-self-help book Unleash the Sloth! 75 Ways to Reach Your Maximum Potential By Doing Less, and a drawerful of screenplays and short stories. Some of these sci-fi short stories appear on Rob’s original audio short story podcast Listen To The Signal, also narrated by the author.

Rob is a big fan of classic science fiction, and sci-fi conspiracy theories (not to believe in them, just for entertainment.) When not writing, he’s helping other authors publish their own work with his own little imprint, Goldfinch Publishing. He also writes and designs for the award-winning ad agency he owns with his brother (appropriately called Dircks Associates). Otherwise, he generally engages in what he calls “sampling”: video production, audio production, app development, comics/cartooning, photography, guitar, reading, cooking. (Note the absence of the phrases “going to the gym” and “running iron-man triathalons.”) He lives in New York with his wife and two kids. You can get in touch at

Khristine Hvam is an award winning audiobook narrator, producer, director, and voice over actress. You will hear her in TV/Radio commercials, video games, animated series, and most notably in over 275 audio book titles. Khristine has been honored with three Audio Publishers Association Audie Awards. AudioFile Magazine has awarded her seven of it’s Earphone Awards for her performances. Khristine is a proud member of SAG/AFTRA.

Book Review: Jack Gilmour: Wish Lawyer by Ed Ryder

This was a fun read, with a great set up that begs for more books… The idea of a lawyer who specializes in soul-selling contracts is hardly a stretch (I can make that joke, as a lawyer myself!), but surprisingly enough, it hasn’t been played out yet (that I’ve seen) and I found it a great construct that offered thoroughly entertaining possibilities. Jack’s noir personality is a great foil for the more modern messes he finds himself cleaning up, and sets up a nice contrast between old- and new-school.

The story moved along at a mostly solid pace – there were a few times that the book lagged a bit and felt like it needed a tighter edit. It felt a little rough around the edges, and while that worked alright for the format and story, I think that with a little tweaking this could really be an exceptional series. Continue reading Book Review: Jack Gilmour: Wish Lawyer by Ed Ryder

Book Review: Hippie by Paulo Coelho

I LOVE Paulo Coelho’s lyrical narrative style (do a custom search for him on here, I’ve mentioned his books more than once). He paints such evocative pictures and has such a marvelous fluency with language. I was intrigued by this title and the opportunity to learn more directly about his life, but found the format of this one to be a little too free-flowingly 1970s for my taste…

I was born in 1973 so didn’t directly experience the ups and downs and conflicts that shaped the formation of relationships (to others, to the state, to nature, to life and experience) in the hippie era. Perhaps that is where I struggled with this one. Nontraditional narrative styles (be they free-form or stream of consciousness or atypically structured) don’t tend to resonate for me – I tend to prefer my fiction to be a little more linear. Continue reading Book Review: Hippie by Paulo Coelho

Book Review: The New Childhood by Jordan Shapiro

This was a very thoughtful and interesting take on parenting in the digital age and I quite enjoyed reading it – although after a while the chapters did feel a bit repetitive…

As the parent of a five-year old, I do struggle with screen time and competing ideas about allowing my daughter to explore online and wanting her to explore the “real” world, and Shapiro provided a thoughtful and provocative take on these ideas. His anecdotes about his own experiences were heartfelt and engaging. His factoids and history lessons were informative and interesting. His takeaway messages at the end of each chapter were great summaries. Continue reading Book Review: The New Childhood by Jordan Shapiro

Book Review: High Heel by Summer Brennan

I have found these Object Lessons books from Bloomsbury intriguing yet somewhat uneven so far. This one, however, is without a doubt my favorite to date…

High heels are such an emblem of femininity – for good or ill – and their fetishization by men and women alike is a fascinating topic in and of itself. Add in the layered feminist and sociopolitical ideology that Brennan weaves throughout the narrative and you find yourself with a very intriguing book that covers a lot of ground in a relatively short time. The organization is interesting. There are not chapters so much as sections, some of which are long and some quite short, but all of which offer food for thought and discussion on the topic of women’s shoes – and their implications, which are surprisingly broad-based and startlingly impactful – throughout history. Continue reading Book Review: High Heel by Summer Brennan




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