I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Just by Jenny Morton Potts, due to be published on the 18th June. I have an extract, guest post and giveaway to share but before I hand you over to Jenny, here’s a little about the book.
How far would you go to save a life?
On golden Mediterranean sands, maverick doctor Scott Langbrook falls recklessly in love with his team leader, Fiyori Maziq. If only that was the extent of his falling, but Scott descends into the hellish clutches of someone much more sinister.
‘Just’ is a story of love and loss, of terror and triumph. Set in idyllic Cambridge and on the shores of the Med and Cornwall, our characters fight for their very lives on land and at sea.
An unforgettable novel which goes to the heart of our catastrophic times, and seeks salvation.
If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning an e-copy of the book, please click the Rafflecopter link ~ the giveaway is open internationally.
Have you ever gone online and listened to one of your favourite authors reading a passage from one of your favourite books? If not, beware! Because here lurks a new kind of spoiler; the one where the author ruins it for the reader, by being a bit shit at narration. Ok, that’s harsh, but it honestly happens. And it’s even worse if the reading is live, in person. You might find the disappointment overwhelming. And nobody likes sobbing in front of their heroes.
On the other hand, it might be that the author reads their own work extremely well. They, after all, know exactly what they intended to say and how they intended to say it. I think if the author can do it well, then that’s who I’d choose to hear.
Armed with the above knowledge, I decided to turn myself into the author who reads her own work extremely well. But that turned out to be quite a task.
However, you find out a great deal recording audio. You discover what sentences will really feel like for a reader. You’ll find yourself wanting to re-write certain passages. Fortunately, for indie publishers, you can actually do that very easily and upload again in minutes.
Here’s a list of what you’ll need for audio:
A great recorder. I use a Zoom H4n Pro which is about £200 new.
Complete peace and quiet. Lock up your animals in a distant place, particularly cats with bells on their collars. Switch off the central heating boiler (recording is a May to September activity). Call the airport and tell air traffic control to divert planes for the day. Close all the windows. Leave a sign on the door, ‘Postman, don’t ring even once!’ Get yourself comfortable. Have a glass of water to hand. DO NOT FIDGET OR RUSTLE.
Now then, the above was the easy part, this is the hard stuff. You have to act. To begin with, you will feel very self-conscious and embarrassed. Don’t worry, it’s normal. Writing is your day job, not pretending to be other people. And most actors will have been hopeless at the start. Yes, even Meryl Streep. Ok, not Meryl Streep. But acting is a skill and you can learn it. You just have to let your inhibitions go. When you feel your characters’ anger and sorrow rise, let it rise up in you. You will hear a difference in your playback as you start to learn. Right, I can see your brow furrowing; you’re not convinced. But honestly, you’ll get better and better, and quickly too. By the time you are recording the middle section of the novel, you’ll be saying to yourself, ‘By crikey, I’m going back to the beginning and do it over. I’m THAT good now!’ (Hopefully.)
Save your work in manageable audio file sizes, onto an SD card; five minutes or so at a time. When you make a mistake, just swear, and do that section again. You can cut and join the files later, in the editing. From time to time, get your files off the SD card and onto a back-up device.
I use a very simple editor online. It’s free and it’s called http://www.audio-joiner.com. You simply upload your files – I recommend about ten files at a time – and then slide the marker along the files where you want to make a cut. Give yourself a few extra seconds’ silent recording at the start and end of a section, so that you have room for edits when using the slider. Then you click ‘join’ and you have a longer file to download. Later, you’ll ‘join’ all the longer files into chapters. When you use http://www.ACX.com for making audiobooks with Amazon, you can upload there in chapters, saving as you go. When you’re ready to submit, ACX take a little while to check the quality. If it’s not good enough – and they have high standards – they will tell you where you’re going wrong. If you need to get professional help at this point, to tidy the sound levels for instance, you can pay an audio wizard. But you’ve overall saved a fortune, made a better novel, and learned a great new skill.
There will be times when it seems as if the job will never be done. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that to employ a good narrator to stand in for you will cost several thousands of pounds. This thought will release extra energy and adrenalin into your body and voice box. And before you know it, The End is nigh…
The Langbrooks go sailing in the Channel Islands. Scott is just a boy at the time. Lucienne hopes that her marriage can be saved.
As with all unexpected treats or kindnesses, they brought delight. And the biggest surprise of all aboard the exquisite Morag Mhor, was that Edward Langbrook began to resemble once more the man she married. Lucienne felt a lurch of emotion for Ed and his confusions. She loved him so much still, whoever he was. Luci loves Ed. She used to laugh saying that in the early stages of love-making. She used to write it on misty windscreens. And here was love again, smudged but almost legible.
“Five days. It’s not long on a yacht.” Ed kept saying, in their sumptuous, if compact, cabin. “There’s a lot to pack in, Luce. And God they are packing us in. This is more of a cabinet, than a cabin.”
“It’s luxury, Ed. Luxury. Just like it, will you. Like everything. It makes me want sex. Right now.”
“I’m on the case.”
Everything about the Morag Mhor trip though was dreamy, filmic and the Langbrook family loved it equally and entirely: the whip of sailcloth, the white gouache on the cobalt sea, the striped canvas deckchairs bleaching against the sun, the sea-salty tarpaulins on the life-raft, the crew shining up brass rails and instruments, the geoduck clam platters and seafood of every kind journeying constantly from the galley to their precise location. Even in their bunk, they were offered some bedtime oysters. Flimsy panels separated the sleeping quarters. The merest murmur was open to interpretation. For grown ups, making love was deliciously furtive, illicit, hand over mouth. Then to sleep and to hope when you awoke that there would still be one more of those five precious days.
Lucienne knew the Morag Mhor was a precious gem. The trip would be their fine memory; a rightness at last in their marriage and family and a glowing example of sheer possibility; after all the months and years of cumulative drift and doubt.
On the eve of the storm, Scott was curled on deck among cushions. His eyelids began to flutter then close amid identifying star constellations and his father carried him to bed. Ed and Luci had sleepy, unfinished sex in theirs. How could they possibly know that their world in its new-found glory was about to spiral down a vortex forever.
The following morning, Captain Jelley and Edward were in serious, frowny conference. Ed wanted to fit in a landing at Alderney. The only way there would be time, was to sail the Alderney Race. Captain Jelley said it was fine by him but looked over his shoulder at Lucienne, and she in turn looked at Hanne in the galley and saw the girl hesitate as she put away some dishes.
Lucienne was not consulted on the decision to sail the notorious stretch of water. Ed disappeared to their cabin as soon as the yacht began to lurch. Captain Jelley advised Lucienne to stay with him on the bridge. Scottie lay in his mother’s lap being sick. He counted each time he vomited, determined to outdo his best friend Demitri who was sick eight times in a row with his peritonsillar abscess. Scottie passed out and his mother made a mental note to tell him later that it was thirteen times.
The fury of the sea and its voice were terrifying. The cutlery, glasses and dishes flew around in the galley like a Poseidon meets Poltergeist movie. Hanne was struck by a white cup and gave up trying to secure or salvage the kitchenware. She dabbed at the cut on her head with kitchen roll and sitting down next to Luci, took hold of Scottie’s unconscious hand. It was hard not to feel a sense of punishment, of retribution: you weren’t just scared, you deserved to be. Jelley’s pork fingered hands never left the wheel, though they were squeezed boudin blanc and his face was grim, unblinking. For two hours, they were in deep oceanic trouble but as quickly as the pounding began, it stopped and the sky and sea flattened into manageable distinctions once more.
They moored in calm, beautiful Alderney and Scottie leapt into the dinghy for shore. His hangdog father reappeared at his son’s side. But his mother was a little way back, still trying to convince her shaking legs that they could get down the ladder and into the dinghy. Once ashore, Scott skipped along the golden sands, renewed vigour in his spindly limbs and ravenous. He pointed at restaurant chalkboards, declaring he would eat everything on the menu du jour. Captain Jelley helped Lucienne out of the dinghy and onto the breathtakingly golden beach. The world was trying to convince her once more of its beauty but she’d learned a thing or two that morning. Lucienne looked at Ed as he stood in the shallow water, his trousers rolled up and his loafers in his hand. She looked at her husband and found that he was unwilling to meet her eye. That was when the realisation struck, like a suckered arrow in the centre of her forehead. She had fallen in love with someone who was simply no good. Good Ed hadn’t gone, he’d never existed. Good Ed had been a two dimensional cut out. He was someone she’d created during a short spell of fine West End dining and post prandial orgasms when they’d first met in London. Once the spell wore off, he was himself once more . Mr Hyde was an Edward, wasn’t he.
So why could Lucienne not etch this truth now onto a hardened heart? She could not, because that is not how love works. Once love is grafted on, only death can get the better of it. Or another love.
And Scottie’s mother, thus far having emitted not so much as a quiet retch, doubled up on the Alderney sands and let it all out.Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer, and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realized she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off. Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with the family. She tries not to take herself too seriously.