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BG's Geist publishes new romance PDF Print E-mail
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor   
Friday, 30 August 2013 09:06
Within weeks after the debut of her first novel, "Only in the Movies," Bowling Green author Jean Ann Geist was already getting requests for a sequel.
Now, two years later, she's about to make lots of northwest Ohio readers very happy.
Her follow-up romance, "Only on the Radio," will make its first appearance as she does a book signing on Kelley's Island this weekend. "There are two pivotal chapters (of OOR) set on Kelley's Island," so the tie-in is obvious.
But the big launch is slated for next weekend at the Black Swamp Arts Festival.
"Last time it was hot," she said of the self-published novel that introduced readers to the cool blonde Cassie and her long-ago Latino boyfriend Jaime Alvarez, who meet up again shortly after Cassie's husband divorces her.
"It was on wait lists at lots of different libraries. One (copy) was even stolen," Geist says with a triumphant grin.
This time around Geist introduces readers to farmer's widow Liz McAlister and David Morales, disc jockey with a dark past, "whose lives become entangled with a deranged stalker."
They are residents of the same fictional community as Cassie and Jaime, a place that exists only inside Geist's imagination, but which admittedly borrows Wood County vibes, street and river names.
"Even though it's a fictional town - somewhere between Wood and Henry County - Bowling Green's the reality that grounds my fiction.  If you know Bowling Green you can visualize the area."
The fictional Tia's Taverna, where Liz and David meet up at the start of the book, "is very familiar to those who've read Only in the Movies."
"Only on the Radio" will be available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, as well as through Kindle and Nook, simultaneous with the launch.
"I hope to get it into a number of libraries."
This new book had a rather complicated gestation, Geist admits.
She wrote the first 70 pages or so back in 2005 and submitted the prologue to a writers' group in Columbus.
"They didn't like it. But my roommate, who is more my age - the other writers were mostly younger - said 'I really like this.'
"After that I kept pulling Only in the Movies out and working on that (but) the other book just kept nagging at me, kept saying 'give me another look.'"
With "Movies" launched and on its way, she finally did.
A writer-friend advised: "You need to tie your second book in with the first."
That suggestion unlocked the floodgates and Geist finally came up with an occupation for her male lead. "I made him a DJ and the (title) Only on the Radio came to me."
She estimates it took only "six months' heavy-duty writing, once I got a connection, had a focus for David, got to know Liz a little better.
"You have to know where they were born, where they're coming from, or you can't work with the person. With the McAlister family I have a family history going back."
For anyone who picks up "Radio" without having read "Movies" first, there may be a bit of surprise at how quickly sensuality enters the picture: right in the prologue, as a matter of fact.
Geist is quite familiar with the romance-writing formula that calls for an emotional build-up leading to a crescendo right at about page 100, but this book's plot forced a different approach.
The character Liz "wanted to get out of this malaise of being the widow. She was just gonna seduce somebody."
Of course, the seduction didn't go as planned.
Geist describes her prime audience as women 35 and up.
"But I have had young women who love it. I have had men.
"My mechanic bought a copy and he loved it; retired college professors, men, who've read it and really liked it.
"I have not gotten any negative feedback" - with one painful exception.
Latina friends felt compelled to point out that Geist had an inaccurate accent mark on the e in Jaime.
Since his name appears hundreds of times in the book, it was the error that kept on giving. But at least she was able to correct it in the ebook version.
"I did have a Latina co-worker who helped me very much with both books - Mardi Losoya Rush. She kind of vetted the Latina."
Geist feels unapologetic about creating a second lead character who is Latino though she herself is not.
"You have to have a contrast" to move the plot along "and the multicultural thing brings" its own automatic contrast.
Geist also took courage from the example of Rachel Renee Russell, author of the Dork Diaries. Russell was asked in an NPR interview about her choice to have a Caucasian main character in her latest book, although she herself is African-American. Russell told the interviewer that the idea that she must confine herself to characters of her own race didn't seem right, although admittedly, doing the opposite involved some "mental gymnastics" as a writer.
Geist was a founding member of the Multicultural Affairs Committee at Bowling Green State University's Jerome Library, where she worked for years in the Browne Popular Culture Library. "Maybe I was trying to make up for what I didn't know growing up" in the tiny Paulding County town of Payne, Ohio.
"I knew there could be more."
While the writing of this second book went faster than the first, ironically, nothing else did.
"Writing is 20 percent. The 80 percent is the publishing, the marketing. And that was a challenge at every step. I thought it would go faster." Instead, her webmaster was unavailable when she needed him, the back-up webmaster fell through, and she changed printers.
"With Only In the Movies I thought it didn't matter if I had a distributor, but I found it really does matter."
This time, "with a distributor, I was able to get into Barnes & Noble."
"They say it takes a village to raise a child, well it took a village to build this book. Ten people read it. The guys at the Answer Factory are my heroes. Wood County Historical Society has been a big supporter," as has the county library.
Despite the hassles, Geist remains committed to self-publishing.
"Doing it yourself is exhausting, (but) if I sold the rights, the publishing company can change the cover, they have the rights to your character, even. They have the power over the book."
The BG author is scheduled to give a talk about her experiences, "Confessions of a Repeat Self-Publisher," at three different libraries: Findlay-Hancock County Library on Sept. 30, Jerome Library on Oct. 17, and the Swanton Public Library at a date yet to be set.

Book signing
Geist will launch "Only on the Radio" Sept. 7 and 8 at BG's Black Swamp Arts Festival.
She'll sign her books:
• Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. in front of Grounds For Thought, 174 S. Main;
• Sunday,  
11 a.m.-5 p.m., inside art-a-site! at 116 S. Main.
Last Updated on Friday, 30 August 2013 09:07
 

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