September 1, 2020

Sing Like No One's Listening Blog Tour: Author Guest Post + Giveaway

Welcome to the Sing Like No One's Listening Blog Tour!
To celebrate the release of Sing Like No One's Listening by Vanessa Jones on September 1st, blogs across the web are featuring original content from Vanessa, as well as 10 chances to win a finished copy plus a grand prize giveaway!
Feeling the Fear:
How I used my own experiences of stage fright to inspire my first novel by Vanessa Jones
(The following is an excerpt from the first chapter of Sing Like No One’s Listening)        
            I was doing so well. Today was going to be difficult without Mum, I knew that. But I was holding it together—at least I was until I heard her voice. Now I’m winded, mugged. My throat’s swollen with raw emotion and acid-burn and my eyes are stinging.
            Oh no, not now. Don’t cry now. Get it together, Nettie.
            I press the corners of my eyes with shaking fingers and head back into the foyer, where a man in a spotted cravat pokes his head out of the audition room.
            “Ah, Antoinette. Here you are. We called you a moment ago.”
            “Sorry, I—”
            “Not to worry. We’d like to see you now, if you’re ready.”
            I follow him into the studio, barely able to focus.
            “So, what have you brought to sing for us?” says the man. He leaves me in the center of the room and goes to sit down with the rest of the panel.
            “Er…I’ve got ‘I’m Not Afraid of Anything’…” I falter. I’m surprised no one laughs. I must look literally afraid of everything right now. The room spins.
            “Haven’t you got anything else?” says a woman next to him. I try to focus on her face, which right now is just a white blur inside a blackish-gray bob. “We’ve heard that one seven times already today.” Her voice is cold and clipped.
            “Oh. Um, I’ve got—”
            “Well, whatever it is, let’s hear it. I need a break from the mind-numbing tedium,” says the voice. I notice the echo it makes through the vast studio. Good acoustics, Mum would have said.
            I freeze. My feet won’t move; I’m stuck in some sort of awful spotlight I can’t step out of.
            “Everything all right?” asks the man.
            “Uh, sure.” Dazed, I force myself over to the pianist to give him my sheet music. As I walk slowly back to the center of the studio and wait for the introduction, I know something’s still not right. I’m unsteady on my feet and my throat’s small, like I can’t get enough air to my lungs. Mum should’ve been here today. I wore that dress she gave me for my seventeenth—the one with the flowers. I picked her favorite song. I needed her. But…not like this. How could this happen, now of all times?
            The first line is audible, but only just. My voice is thin. Reedy. With every breath it gets worse.
            By the end of the first chorus, it’s down to little more than a whisper. What’s happening to me?
            “You’ll never get in.” My grandmother’s last words to me as I left the house this morning float up to the forefront of my mind. “I don’t know why you’re bothering. You’ll never make it.
Look where show business got your mother.
            “I don’t care. It’s what I want. Mum wanted me to go. She was proud of me—not that you’d ever know.
            I don’t even have the energy to be angry any more. I’m drained of everything right now, except the overwhelming grief throbbing through my chest.
            The pianist comes to a halt, and I realize I’ve stopped singing altogether.
            “Nettie, would you like a glass of water?” says the man.
            “Is there a problem?”
            “No, I’m fine. I just—”
            I just heard my dead mum on a voicemail and now I can’t sing is the problem. But I can’t say that, can I? Tear tracks prickle my jawline and I rub them away violently. The panel must think my nerves have got the better of me, standing in the middle of the studio and weeping silently with no explanation.
            I mouth “I’m sorry” and run out.
            The above is an excerpt from Sing Like No One’s Listening, my first novel, about a girl called Nettie who suddenly loses her voice. Unfortunately, the point at which she loses it is just as she’s auditioning for the most prestigious performing arts college in the country. Which is. . . unhelpful.
            The story is inspired by a time in my performing career when I had terrible stage fright—singing in front of people became pretty much impossible as my voice would just cut out without warning. Like, nothing would come out. It was frustrating, to say the least. Eventually it got to the stage where I couldn’t go to auditions. I’d tried everything over those few months—rescue remedy, deep breathing, positive attitude—but nothing was working. Finally, desperate and jobless, I went to see a hypnotherapist. I wasn’t convinced it would work; in fact, the entire time I was under I remember thinking how silly it all was. And the next audition I went to I honestly didn’t think I felt any different. But something wonderful happened when I got in the room: I suddenly didn’t care. I wasn’t worried what the panel thought of me, or how my voice sounded, or whether or not I’d chosen the right song. All I wanted to do was sing. And that was what made the difference. I got the job, and the rest, as they say, is history.
            Years later, when I was writing the outline for Sing, I started thinking about that time in my life and what could have caused the stage fright. The only thing I could come up with was that I was going through a pretty tough time emotionally around then, and that it had affected my confidence but somehow manifested itself in my voice. It got me wondering more about stage fright, and what you do when “the fear”, as we call it in theatre, gets in the way. What if you were living your dream of training to be a performer, but something completely out of your control suddenly got in the way, threatening to end it all? What happens then? I ran with the idea, and what started as a book about a power struggle between a young girl and a terrifying college principal, became a story about finding your voice. And love, obviously. Because where would a novel set in the glorious world of musical theatre be without love?
Blog Tour Schedule:
8/31 - BookhoundsYA
9/2 - The Fandom
9/8 - Book Briefs

A moving story of grief and healing – sure to be a pure joy for any musical theater aficionado.
Nettie Delaney has just been accepted into a prestigious performing arts school―the very same school her superstar mother attended. With her mother’s shadow hanging over her, Nettie has her work cut out for her―and everyone is watching. To make matters worse, Nettie hasn’t been able to sing a single note since her mother died. Whenever she tries, she just clams up. But if Nettie’s going to survive a demanding first year and keep her place in a highly coveted program, she’ll have to work through her grief and deliver a showstopper or face expulsion.
All may not be lost, however, when Nettie stumbles upon a mysterious piano player in an empty studio after class. Masked behind a curtain, can Nettie summon the courage to find her voice? Or will the pressure and anxiety of performing come crashing down?
All about finding and raising your voice, and not throwing away your shot, Vanessa Jones’s well-crafted journey of grief and healing will pull readers along with its strong narrative voice and satisfying sense of mystery.
“Jones' novel has the expected Fame vibes that will delight any reader who loves stories of aspiring young stars learning their craft, but its exploration of Nettie's complexities makes the story unique…. Jones offsets the narrative’s weightier
moments with light and quirky ones, making it a fast read with staying power."
“Anglophiles, music and theater nerds, and those looking for some classic will-they-won’t-they romance will all find something to enjoy here. Jones writes her subject matter authentically, with obvious passion to balance the professional arts’ not-so-pretty struggles…. A touching portrait of healing after loss.” 
—Kirkus Reviews
Vanessa Jones trained at Laine Theatre Arts and went on to be a musical theater actor in West End Shows, including Sister Act, Grease, Guys and Dolls, Annie Get Your Gun, and Mary Poppins. She began her writing career with a stage play for a fringe theater and also works as a freelance copywriter and editor. She lives in England with her fellow chimney sweep. 
Follow Vanessa: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
  • 1 winner will receive a finished copy of Sing Like No One's Listening. Check out the other tour stops for more chances to win.
  • US/Canada only
  • Ends 11:59pm ET on 9/13

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