Friday, 27 July 2018

Don Jacobson - Audio Books - Guest Post and Giveaway

Book cover: Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess by Don Jacobson
Today we are joined by Don Jacobson to talk about audio books. I've noticed a definite move to audio lately amongst JAFF authors and I applaud it. Firstly, I think it's great to give people a choice of medium. While there are those people who will only read a real book I think there are definitely places for things like ebooks, which revolutionised my reading, and are a wonderful choice for those who are limited on budget or physical space, or who benefit from the flexibility to increase text size.

Similarly, audio books are fantastic; firstly for people who are unable to physically read, (such as my dear, departed Grandad, who had a stroke which left him partially sighted, and he received 'talking books' via post to help him read without the need for his magnifying glass) but also for those who do things like crafting, meaning that they can read without having to hold the book.

Book cover: Lessers and Betters by Don Jacobson
I never thought listening to audio would be something that I would do, but spurred on by the encouragement of fellow JAFF-reader Anji, I gave audio a try. Having increased my working hours a few years ago, leading to a decrease in available reading time, I found audio books a godsend! Rather than spend my commute alternately having road rage and dispiritedly flicking through radio channels to avoid adverts I found myself actually really enjoying the time I had to spend travelling, and washing dishes and folding washing are far nicer to do when you are distracted by a book. Since I do a sedentary job I usually try to have a lunchtime walk to get some steps in and listening to an audiobook means I get to read as well as exercise - win/win!

One of the benefits of audio that I've noticed is that you get a different reading experience. I read with my eyes at a gazillion miles per hour - I want to know what happens and I want to know NOW. With audio, you obviously read at more of a speaking speed, which means that sometimes you notice details that you may otherwise have zoomed past. Another thing is that some audio renditions are 'performances' and, as with a play, the performance can bring something additional to the story. This is what Don has come to talk to us about today, and he's brought a giveaway too, of an audio rendition of TWO of his books which have recently become available in audio. After my mammoth introduction, I will now hand over to Don for his guest post :)


Guest Post from Don Jacobson - Continuing the Act of Creation

As the world of #Austenesque writing matures, authors are now beginning to explore ways to elevate the experience of their supporters. The most apparent manner (as the Seattle-based behemoth continues its inexorable march) is the move from the printed/electronic word to spoken word.

Fun fact: In the United States, The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has awarded a Grammy for spoken word performances since 1959. Audio books are now included, although Barack Obama reading his latest is likely to win!

Transitioning any work to an audio version does require a degree of financial commitment on the part of the author, and this simple fact must necessarily reduce the number of books being transferred to this medium. Obviously, a book which has received marginal notices from the reviewing population may not be worth the out-of-pocket exposure incurred by an author. Likewise, “pulp” works may require too much repair work (time and patience) to bring them into shape for recording by a professional. Much as the traditional publishing model filtered out weaker entries, so too does the demands of audio publishing in today’s day and age.

Many works in the old JAFF world and now the new #InspiredByAusten realm still follow the traditional “audiobook” model: in other “words,” delivering a faithful rendition of the work to engage a different sense of the “reader,” that of hearing. However, there are  many newer, more media-savvy writers who are discovering that there is more to creating an audio version of their existing book than simply sending the manuscript to a voice talent.

For me, I discovered this gap between what has been the expectations of the marketplace and what can be the possibilities. That “eureka moment” came when I was working on the “covers” for the Audio Versions of my books (The Bennet Wardrobe Series and the Lessers and Betters stories). T’is rooted in how I write.

I spent nearly 40 years writing advertising copy, radio and television commercials, and video scripts. Thus, my composition style grows out of the visual. I “see” my scenes before I “write” my scenes. Thus, I am perforce always describing action, expression, and attitude. The words recreate the visual that I imagined.

Back to the covers: the great Janet B. Taylor asked me how I wanted my voice people to be credited. I had no answer because I had never done anything like this. According to Janet, the standard was “Narrated By.”

Now that was boring.

One thing I knew about these incredible people is that they have undergone years of training to hone their instruments to a fine point. They are also very proud of their capabilities. Were they simply going to be “narrators?” Or, would they be my partners in continuing the act of creation by adding to what had already been brought to the printed page.

Thus, I offered them a choice…”Performed By” or “Interpreted By.” To a soul, they picked “Performed by!” And so they have.

By releasing the fetters that had semantically held back their active participation in bringing the works to a new level—one which inspires the listeners’ imaginations, the alteration of the word “Narrated” to “Performed” sends the work down a new course. And, as such, I believe that my works are all the better for it.

Oh, and, as an author, I did discover while going this process that what works on the printed page may not work when performed aloud. Thus, the audio versions of my books are slightly different because of necessary edits.

As I have done in other forums, I encourage you to read along as you listen to a scene from one of my books…in this case, The Maid and The Footman (which also appears in the second half of Lessers and Betters). The link to the audio sample is provided for your use in this little bit of “homework.”

* * *

From Chapter VIII, the Cecil Harvest Masque, 1815

(((We edited out the areas highlighted in yellow to allow for the audio sample provided by Audible to come in at 5 minutes. While this does change the focus of the passage, I offer this to you for consideration on how the integrity of the confrontation between Caroline Bingley and Kitty Bennet is maintained. The main performance contains all of the missing words and phrases.)))

Miss Bennet glanced back over her left shoulder at Henry, and with a smile to him, indicated that she wished a glass of champagne from his tray. He stepped forward and bowed slightly so that she could take her drink. Looking past, he saw a tall, slender, red headed woman making a beeline for Miss Bennet from across the room.

To Wilson’s eye, this woman was at least five and more likely ten years older than Miss Bennet. As she neared her quarry, he could see that her complexion was well rouged and powdered, probably in an effort to restore the luster of a youth that had fled some time before. More likely, all she accomplished was to hide some of the more obvious ravages of time. She was dressed as good Queen Bess, but the ridiculously accurate high collar coupled with her already long frame left an impression of a carnival actor navigating the room on stilts. Henry could see a steely glint in her hazel green eyes. Whoever she was, she bore not friendship, but rather disdain, for Miss Bennet.

“Miss Bennet. I am quite surprised to come across you here at the Cecil Masque,” the woman fluted between teeth clenched in a rictus that bespoke astonishment, “How did you ever secure such a coveted invitation? I doubt if it was through your connections in Cheapside.”

Miss Bennet’s face soured at the verbal assault, but she politely replied using an epee rather than a saber, “Why Miss Bingley…it is still Miss Bingley, is it not? What a pleasure it is to meet you again. Why it has to be nearly four years since we last saw you before you left Netherfield. I do hope you are faring well. Your note of condolence upon our father’s death was so comforting.”

Wilson stepped back to his earlier position, making sure to keep his face impassive.

I think I am about to see how ladies do battle. These two have no love lost whatsoever. I doubt if this Miss Bingley—how did she ever secure an invitation, I wonder—is aware that Miss Bennet spent the last few years by the side of a Cecil, and a future Duchess at that, learning the art of social war! 

The faux-Elizabeth arched her eyebrows as she absorbed the slight about her marital status. Then she tried a flanking attack.

“Yes, my brother and sister and I were all so devastated that your father’s death forced dear Jane and Eliza into taking employment. But, I imagine even Mr. Darcy, the height of condescension, felt that this was the best they could expect thanks to your father’s indolent ways. I had heard that your sisters relocated to the hinterlands away from the city. Was it Glasgow? Dublin? I imagine you were so distressed when your Uncle acted like a common tradesman and required them to leave his house in the midst of their grief.”

Wilson ground his teeth as he listened to Miss Bingley pile insults atop insults. He had heard Miss Bennet relate to Annie that her uncle had not demanded that any of his nieces find employment. On the contrary, her two elder sisters could not bear to be a burden on a household with four small children. Another sister—the middle one—had married a sea captain in the Gardiner line. His share of the profits would make the couple quite comfortable.

Miss Bennet maintained her composure and replied evenly, “Oh, Miss Bingley, you are mistaken. Both Jane and Elizabeth decided that their futures would be away from London. Honestly, I think they needed to be absent from Town and the poor memories associated with some areas like Mayfair. My aunt and uncle could not convince them to stay. It is true that my Papá did not plan for our security, but my uncle has more than enough resources to keep his two favorite nieces close at hand. Why, he asked after them just last week when he stopped by Cecil House to meet with Lord Tom and his brother.”

Thrust and parry.

Miss Bingley fired another shot, “I can give no credit to your account. I am surprised that Lord Thomas Cecil would be willing to meet with anyone from trade here at Cecil House. Why even my brother, for whom I am still hostess, has the delicacy to conduct those sorts of meetings away from home. And, when I am Mistress of Pemberley, I will force Mr. Darcy to cut any ties with those in trade. His man of business is good enough for that!

“Those in the trade have such inferior manners. But so do many of those in the gentility, especially if they hail from countrified regions like Hertfordshire. I recall how much you and your uncontrollable sister—what was her name—Lily? Lara?—danced like wild hoydens with all the soldiers at that wretched assembly my brother forced us to attend. But I doubt if you have had the opportunity to dance like that tonight…because you are Lord Thomas and Lady Mary’s governess.

This last vitriolic salvo was delivered with the triumphant sneer so well known by familiars of that particular daughter of trade. She then sought to push her advantage home. Dropping all pretense of being polite, Miss Bingley reached out and grabbed Miss Bennet’s dance card that was dangling from her left wrist; the same hand in which she held her glass of champagne.
The remaining liquid splashed out onto the floor as Miss Bennet’s hand was yanked forward.

“I imagine that this card is blank, as it should be for an employee overstepping her bounds by presuming to be on the same level as members of the ton.”

Henry stepped forward to Miss Bennet’s side. He had already lifted the napkin draped over his arm and had dropped it atop the golden puddle before it spread to the hem of her gown. Then he gently removed the glass from her hand, still held captive by the silk ribbon stretching from her wrist to Miss Bingley’s hand. He glanced at the governess’ face.

Oh, this Bingley woman has overcharged her musket like a raw recruit. Wonder if she left the ramrod in as well. There is going to be an interesting explosion in a moment. Just look at the arch of Miss Bennet’s eyebrow and the set of her lips!

Caroline snapped open the card. Then her face began to grow pale for the card was filled with names that could only have been improved if one had been the Prince Regent’s!

Listen to this sample of The Maid and the Footman at Audible US

About the Author
Author Don Jacobson

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years.  His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio.  His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards.  He has previously published five books, all non-fiction.  In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series—The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exileis the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series.  Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.”

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations.  As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.

He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound.  Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).

He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty pound cat, Bear.  Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.

His other passion is cycling.  Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills).  He has ridden several “centuries” (100 mile days).  Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).

Connect with Don

Website    

Giveaway Time

Book cover: Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess by Don Jacobson
Don is here to share some audio love; and so he has kindly offered to give away an audio code for two of his books - Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess and Lessers and Betters to TWO winners - so two packages of two audios.

Book cover: Lessers and Betters by Don Jacobson
To win, just comment on this blog post by the end of the day on Friday 3 August. Thank you so much to Don for the guest post and giveaway!

38 comments:

  1. Look forward to engaging with all of your comments. Traveling tomorrow, so may be a bit delayed in response!

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    1. Thanks so much for the post, Don! It's an interesting idea to change the text so it works better in audio. I was recently reading a factual book which referred back to a sentence at the beginning of the chapter, which of course, listening to the audio I never got back to, and I wished they'd had the common sense to realise that it's a different experience and should be tweaked for the listener.

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    2. You're right Ceri! Every means of communication has its way to express itself at its best!

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  2. Carole in Canada28 July 2018 at 20:38

    My first experience to listening to audio was with Don's "Henry Fitzwilliam's War". The performance by Amanda Berry, the narrator, was excellent and I look forward to listening to more. I have downloaded audible on to my computer and will listen to both of these in the coming months so please do not enter me in the giveaway. As I also own all Don's books, the idea of reading along while listening is excellent one. I'm so new to this form of 'reading/listening' that I think I need more time to see if it truly works for me. Thank you!

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    1. As always, Carole, thank you so much for your supports and comments. Will be leaning on Bert for colloquial German translations for the next "The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father's Lament."

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    2. Hi Carole, wanted to introduce myself and say thank you for the kind words! I'm working hard to get the rest of the books out to you and hope you enjoy listening as much as I did performing! I currently have the sample for Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess up on my website too if you were interested in checking it out!

      https://amandaberryvo.com/2018/07/17/new-books-for-your-earholes/

      Thanks for listening!

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    3. Hi Carole! Glad to know that you've enjoyed this narrator/performer.

      I know what you mean, I was tentative in my first forays into audio. I haven't yet been able to listen to new fiction in audio, but I love listening to re-reads of Heyer and Christie, factual and self-help books. I hope you enjoy both of these books when you listen to them!

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  3. I have not listened to audio as much in my retirement as when I traveled on my job. But I do use audible while taking my 1/2 hour walk in the mornings. It is a slower read that way but it works. This story sounds intriguing - Caroline's appearance was amusing to read about and her personality has maintained all the sharp edges.

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    1. Thank you SM. Yes, I have discovered two "treasures" in Amanda Berry (the voice of The Bennet Wardrobe) and Barbara Rich (the voice of the Lessers and Betters stories).

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    2. Glad you like the sound of the story, Sheila! I take a half hour lunchtime walk and you are right, it's slow, but I get there :)

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  4. I like to listen to audiobooks on my commute so I’m glad to see many of my favorite authors releasing their titles on this format.

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    1. Hey DB...I am hoping the experiment of Audible adds a remarkable new dimension to bring the books to life. Appreciate your continued support.

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    2. Hi Darcybennett. I think it's so great to see authors branching out into new formats. We are so lucky to have such choice!

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  5. As Ceri says above, I've been waxing lyrical about the virtues of audiobooks for some time. I listen to mine when I'm driving, cooking, gardening, decorating (if I paint something such as a wall or door whilst listening to an audiobook, then that object is forever associated in my mind with that book) and even if I need help getting off to sleep (Stephen Fry reading the Harry Potter series is my "drug of choice" for the latter). It's amazing how listening to an audio narration or performance can bring out nuances in the text that you simply just don't pick up on when reading the text. While quite a lot of what I listen to is Austen or Austenesque fiction, it's not the only genre by any means. What I have found is that the choice of narrator/performer is vital. I've heard some horrors over the years and there are some who will prevent me from spending one of my Audible credits, no matter how much I'd like the book. Amanda Berry and Barbara Rich are names new to me and I feel sure that Don will have chosen wisely.

    It's such good news to hear that Don is joining a growing number of Austenesque authors in venturing into this new medium.

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    1. Good Morning...what a wonderful reply! Yes, both Amanda and Barbara came to me through the #Audible audition process. Part of my job, I have discovered...being married to a former television producer/director...that I need to have a clear vision of how I want my books to "sound." T'is much the same as when I decide how I want my books to "look" when read. I have been known to fool with spacing, type placement and the like in order to attempt to give the reader a sense of dislocation, otherworldliness, and so on.

      Thank you, too, for using the term "Austenesque!"

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    2. Thanks for the reply, Don. You're actually the person responsible for me using that term, following on from a post of yours I read elsewhere (sorry can't remember which blog it was). I haven't used the other term since!

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    3. Hi Anji,

      I certainly hope I don't end up being one of your "horrors!" Eek. In any case you can judge for yourself with the samples of both books I've narrated (Henry Fitzwilliam's War and Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess) here:

      https://amandaberryvo.com/2018/07/17/new-books-for-your-earholes/

      You know, before you spend those audible credits! Hope you enjoy :)

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    4. Anji...thank you for the credit on Austenesque. This came from one of my regular posts in Austen Authors.

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    5. Amanda, I've listened to your sample of Henry Fitzwilliam's War and it sounds pretty good to me!

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    6. Hi there Anji. Many a time I have blessed you for encouraging me to try audio books! I completely agree that you can get something different from a listen than you do to a read, and the narrator can make such a difference. I'm listening to a factual read at the moment and the narrator has definitely reduced my enjoyment of it :(

      I listen to audios often on my commute and I find I am reminded of stories when I am in particular places, especially when I've been caught in slow traffic and have built an association between the audio and a place!

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  6. I loved your comments Don, and I agree with your opinion about audiobooks. I'm waiting for the whole The Bennet Wardrobe series to come in audio, so I can listen to it together. Thanks for the generous giveaway.

    I loved Caroline's reaction. ;)

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    1. Welllll....That requires me to get the last three main novels written! No, seriously, thank you!

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    2. LOL, I have trust in you Don.

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    3. That's the only thing with a series isn't it, Kate - whether to read and potentially forget details, or to wait for the series to be complete and have the pain of waiting!

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  7. Is there something better than being on a train your way home, and all the suddenly you are living in another time, seen other landscapes. What's not to like about audiobook? Must confess that I am curious about Don Jacobson writing, as the first male JAFF author that I am coming across :)

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    1. I have been writing Austenesque fiction since 2015. The Bennet Wardrobe stories began to emerge first followed by the Lessers and Betters stories afterwards. Four main books and two novellas in BW. Lessers and Betters is available in Audible. The Wardrobe is coming out now...over the next several months.

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    2. Absolutely, Sofia! Audiobooks can whisk you away when you're not able to actually read. I have relied on them so much in the past few years, especially when I've been busy and unable to carve out much reading time.

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  8. Wouldn't these be a pleasure to win!

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    1. Morning...we also have released "Lessers and Betters" on #Audible. Barbara Rich's performance adds so much to the paired novellas. Good luck on the give-away!

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    2. Hi there Betty. Good luck in the giveaway!

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  9. I've never listen to audiobooks before but I'm willing to give it a try. Thank you for listing down the benefits of audiobooks, Ceri. And Don, I enjoyed your enlightening guest post on the state of audiobook performances in the publishing world. I think this is the first time I hear that the written books are slightly different than the listening product.

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    1. Hi Luthien, it's the first I've heard of audios differing from the text book too, aside from abridged versions of course. I hope you enjoy audios when you give them a try.

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  10. Please recall that the differences are slight, but are designed to encourage listening pleasure and clarity of theme. The edits above were made to facilitate the 5 minute sample by offering a complete scene rather than a truncated arc.

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  11. Is this giveaway international? Also, if it isn't, can I find The Bennet Wardrobe novella in Italy?

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    1. Hi...Audible is US/UK. I know some of my EU readers/listeners have accounts in Audible UK. As for the books, I just checked Amazon.it and found them. In English.

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    2. Hi Loren! I hope you enjoy the Bennet Wardrobe series when you read them, whatever the format :)

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    3. Thank you Don, I will check if I can have two Audible accounts.
      Thank you Ceri! I already love the first two volumes in the serie!

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