1. What motivated you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and turning it into this book? I was on a bike ride in San Francisco with my (now-ex) husband and he was blocks ahead of me, and I had that thought that my protagonist Hannah has: What if I just turned left? The appurtenant thoughts were: Would he notice? What would my life turn into? That seed grew into a whole scene in my head that wouldn’t go away. So I finally wrote it down. That kept happening with other scenes that were clearly related. After I had several of these, I outlined how they fit together. Initially, it was more like the book pushed its way through me than that I had a motivation to write a book.
When I had most of the first draft done, it then took some motivation to take it the rest of the way to publication. That was in part knowing that my editor and good friend David Colin Carr was turning more of his attention and writing to dying. I didn’t want to miss out on the chance to work with him because I didn’t get around to it. I felt the pressure to get it done before he departed. I also knew that working on a project together would give him reason to stick around. Thankfully, he’s still with us.
2. What is it about and who is it for? It’s about breaking free of despair and discovering the magic of life—and realizing we’re surrounded by clues that there’s something mystical or energetic or spiritual that’s connecting us all. Hannah is struggling with anxiety and childhood trauma. When she’s forced to leave the baggage of her yesterdays behind, she discovers whole new potentials for who she can be. James is torn apart by guilt and grief but finds a path to healing.
In The Left Turn, a pivotal decision splits our protagonists off into different versions of their lives. What is central to the ability to change and grow is letting go of the story we tell ourselves of who we are. The parallel universe split is completely disorienting to Hannah, but it opens a door that she couldn’t even see before that happened.
We all have our “what if” thoughts, and there are an increasing number of books and films that use that as a premise. I think that’s because of the growing awareness that life is so much bigger than we’re generally trained to believe.
The book is for those of us who believe or are hopeful that life is something much bigger than just a physical existence that we have to cope our way through. There’s something magical and spiritual that we can tap into and that changes our lives.
3. What takeaways might the reader be left with after reading it? I hope readers will feel empowered and hopeful, to realize and remember they can create the life they desire. Also, to stay open to the magic of life, so they can see through the illusion that life is a fixed objective “reality” out there. That gratitude is the foundation of happiness and change. And encouraging people to notice the synchronous things we all experience—the clues as I call them—that remind us that there is something bigger going on.
4. How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design? The title not only reflects the most obvious of the pivotal decisions in the book (there’s another one that is more hidden), but also those moments when we think we should take the “right” path even if we feel drawn to an alternate path. The cover design incorporates the dark and light - moving from a dark perception of life to one filled with light. The bike wheel calls in the biking that is a huge part of Hannah’s life, but also movement and change. And the Golden Gate Bridge is not only iconic for San Francisco, but bridges are emblematic of crossing a divide. I really like where my designer Suzanne Parrott went with the design elements.
5. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers? Work with a team—a great editor that you trust is priceless. Get beta readers who will be honest with you and accept their feedback with gratitude, even if you disagree with it at first. Stay open. Learn from others, especially in places like IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Assn.) and BAIPA (Bay Area Independent Publishers Assn.). And make the commitment to also do your book in audio or you’ll miss out on a big part of your audience.
6. What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? Indie publishing has been growing steadily. Similarly, the audiobook growth trend has hit a decade of double-digit growth. One of the particular challenges that I see is that although indie authors now not only do all the creative effort of writing books, they also carry the burden of the expenses for publishing their work. In spite of that, the retail markets are set up in favor of the retailers getting most of the revenue generated by sales. That’s not right. Authors are in a win-lose situation in the marketplace, and usually they are the losers.
The good news is that there are some leaders making inroads to turn this around. In the audiobook world, it’s happening with AMPlify, the new direct-sale platform by Pro Audio Voices. I’m the founder and CEO of the company, and this is something we’ve wanted to be able to offer for years and we’re just now going live with it December 2022. It’s a really big deal and a huge opportunity for authors and small publishers.
Consumer awareness is increasing around the power of where dollars are spent: buy local and buy direct. As more people realize the impact they have by buying direct, the more we’ll see a shift away from the Amazon monopoly. If buyers realized just how little of the money they spend for audiobooks on Audible actually get to the authors, they would be shocked. We need to keep educating people about this so they can make informed decisions about purchases. Audible dominates the market and sales—but pays the lowest royalties.
On the other hand, audiobooks sold through AMPlfiy provide the authors with the income and the control they deserve. We’re all about empowering authors. Stories are life. We experience our lives as story and retell it to each other and ourselves every day.
Circling back to The Left Turn, that’s why it’s such a life changer to change the story.
7. What challenges did you overcome to write this book? My primary business and passion is Pro Audio Voices, and my focus has mostly been on bringing other people’s books to life in audio. So finding the time I needed took a big commitment to myself and the book. The first year of writing was sporadic as scenes popcorned into my head over several months. Then for a long time it sat neglected. In 2019 I felt the push to get back to it and get it done, thanks to my editor.
8. How would you describe your writing style? I tend to focus mostly on the internal story of the characters, what they’re thinking and feeling, than on what’s happening in their physical surroundings. My great interest is the personal journey of self-discovery. My editor, David, was great at pushing me to find alternatives to internal monologues. I also love metaphors and similes. I think we can actually understand and express feelings better that way, so I lean into that.
9. If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours? Because it will change the way you see your own life. You’ll start to notice things you used to consider coincidental or irrelevant, and see from a new perspective. It will plant seeds that with a little nurturing can add magic and mystery to your life.
About The Author: Becky Parker Geist is the founder and CEO of Pro Audio Voices, which is a Portland based company serving clients internationally as a go-to place for exceptional audiobook production and marketing, and producer of the soon-to-be-released AMPlify app, that offers the highest royalties and most control to authors of audiobooks of any platform in the industry. Her debut novel, The Left Turn, the first in the Split Universe series, which explores self-discovery and discoveries in new science through contemporary metaphysical fiction in the context of parallel universes, is available for purchase on Amazon. For more information, please see: https://beckyparkergeist.com/.
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Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2022. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent. This award-winning blog has generated over 3.2 million pageviews. With 4,400+ posts over the past decade, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Susan RoAne, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, IBPA, Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult: linkedin.com/in/brianfeinblum.
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