hear! hear! (the story behind the audiobook)
I still remember the first time as a mentor that I had to turn someone away.
Until then, no matter how many others I was committed to at the time — no matter how strongly I debated with myself that I couldn’t stretch any further — I found a way for “just one more.” But then there it was: the first I’m sorry, I won’t be able to.
As someone who believes in the difference one person can make in the life of another, and who is deeply empathetic, it was like a punch to the gut.
About the same time, years of “kids” I’d mentored, past and present, along with their families, secretly organized an appreciation dinner in my honor. I have to say, not only was I shocked, the timing was uncanny.
As part of the evening’s events, I was given a seat in the middle of the crowd. I remember meeting eyes around the room, one by one. For more than an hour, people spoke word of affirmation or thanks, expressing what I had meant to their lives. Tears welled up (just as they are even now, as I recall the day). Even being a writer, it’s be hard to put to words what that was like.
One young man, Alex, said something that night that has not only stuck with me, but which has changed the course of things thereafter. Alex said, “You’ve mentored so many of us, but somehow, when we’re each with you, you make us feel like we are the only one.”
Wow. Just wow.
Those words reminded me why I’d had to turn that first person away. Yet at the same time, they made me wish I could find a way to always have room for “just one more.”
Soon after the event came graduations.
I write a lot of cards at graduation time, as one might imagine. And they are always personal. I take my time on each one, thinking about what that person might need to hear or remember at this exciting and yet daunting time of transition from childhood to adulthood.
While I was writing a card to my own cousin, Dylan, a light turned on. What if I were to collect the best of what people have expressed has helped them and write it all down?
It suddenly seemed the next natural progression. I would always be limited in the number of people I could invest in one on one; but through writing, I could reach many, many more people whom I’d never be able to speak with in person.
The very next day, I started this blog and began writing my first book, The Best Advice So Far.
Before the book was even complete, I began being asked to speak.
Parents of kids I mentored wondered if I’d speak to larger parent groups.
Parents within those groups pointed out that the things I spoke and wrote about applied not only to young people or parents, but to … well, everyone. Young and old. Individuals and businesses. Married or single. Because the power of choice — of continually choosing positivity over negativity — is universal. And so I began to speak more often as I continued to write.
Right from the beginning, with the photo shoot that would become the cover, things were personal, brimming with love and support. My friend Michael was the photographer, and the location was right in the living room of my best friend, Dib, down by the ocean. I used her pitcher and glasses and plates, and mint clipped from her garden. Even the photos I chose to include within the cover image are each snapshots of real people I love, real stories we’ve lived — real moments that have changed my life.
[Below is one of the unedited shots from that shoot, which became what is now the various covers of The Best Advice So Far.]
The first to be released was the e-book version, simply because it was the fastest way to get the information out there.
Next came the print version. I still remember getting the very first proof copy in my hand. I loved the feel of it in my hand, the heft, the smell. And I grinned broadly, knowing that the potential sphere of influence had just widened.
Even at that time, I knew I eventually wanted to get the book into audio format. I had heard from too many people who truly wanted to read the book and knew it would be helpful that reading was hard for them due to dyslexia, attention issues, blindness, time constraints and more.
And I’ve also been keenly aware that, sometimes, those who’ve needed what’s in this book the most have been in places where reading wasn’t going to be able to cut through the darkness.
They needed something more. They needed the human element, the compassionate voice.
Of course, there are also many, many people who just prefer to use travel, commute or leisure time to enjoy audiobooks between reading print or digital books (or during, as a means of finding brain space for several books at a time).
Some of the nicest reviews I’ve received are from people expressing that their experience with The Best Advice So Far was less like “reading a book” and more like having a conversation over lunch with a friend.
Well, all of this came to a head one day this past spring. I reconfigured my studio and sat down to record the very first words of The Best Advice So Far.
I could never have imagined on that day what a journey it would be. There were times when I was ecstatic about progress. There were others when a heaving sigh gave way to tears, realizing that hours upon hours of work had been erased for good due to program malfunctions. I’d listen through a finished chapter … only to be followed by the stomach drop as I realized that the voice tone was incredibly far off from the preceding one; and that meant re-recording chapters I loved for the sake of continuity and the good of the whole project.
Then, of course, there were the days and days of wearing headphones until my ears chafed, listening over and over to my own voice while staring at green-on-black sound waves, suppressing throat clicks and breaths, wet ‘S’s and poppy ‘P’s.
One of the most special moments in the process came toward the end, when my best friend, Dib, came to record her Foreword. We couldn’t look at one another, or we’d never have made it through. As it was, she had to start over a few times, choked up.
It reminded me once again of why I wrote the book. This is real. This is true. This can make a difference in the lives of people.
Well, I’m thrilled to announce:
THE AUDIOBOOK IS LIVE.
It was accepted upon first submission by Audible. I even got a kind personal note from the support team, saying that they rarely get submissions of such quality and without error from the get-go.
The audiobook is now available through Audible, on Amazon and iTunes. And, if you’re not yet an Audible subscriber, you can actually get The Best Advice So Far FREE by signing up and making this book your first purchase. (They even kick me a new-user “bounty,” although you’ll have paid nothing for the book. Crazy!).
And, of course, you don’t need to subscribe to Audible in order to download and enjoy The Best Advice So Far (though, honestly, if you listen to even one audiobook a month, it makes much more sense to join Audible; the first month is free, and the monthly subscription is less than the price of an audiobook).
All versions are conveniently accessible together on Amazon HERE.
And you can listen to the opening preview right there on the page.
Thank you to everyone who has continued to offer encouragement along the way. You are constant reminders of why it all matters.
I hope you will listen, and that you too will feel like you’re sitting down for lunch with an old friend.
I hope you’ll find encouragement, new ideas and a renewed excitement about the power of choice in your life.
And I hope, if it has made a difference for you, that you’ll pass it along to someone else.
Now … *deep breath* … off to start the next book!