Archive | July 2014

Writing a #Deaf Thriller

Me and my wonderful interpreter at St Joseph's School for the Deaf

Me and my wonderful interpreter at St Joseph’s School for the Deaf

I’ve been asked by many people “why did you write a book with a deaf main lead character?” At first I found it tough to answer this question because “I didn’t” write a novel with the intention to write about a deaf main character. This young boy formed in my mind and he just happened to be deaf. The only real intention I had was to make sure this boy’s deafness was never a disability and his family all learned sign language so that they could communicate with him.

Now, before we go further I need to do a shameless plug. I’m launching Book #2 in this series and it’s called FLYING TO THE FIRE and I’m hosting a Facebook online event on August 30th. What is an event on Facebook? It’s when, for a day, I do my own event “tour” – you don’t have to live close to me, or go anywhere – it’s all online. People join up, by simply clicking on the link and during that day I simply update the site with questions to win prizes and tell you interesting things about the series. I’m hoping it’s REALLY FUN and I have a lot of prizes and swag planned and a fantastic UK deaf retailer, Talk With Sign Books has offered up a £10 voucher to their store for one of the prizes! So come on over, there will be signed books & goodies just by commenting and interacting, so please, please, please join here: https://www.facebook.com/events/669594469785008/ (ok, shameless plug over)

Now, back to comments. Another more provocative one I received more than once was “Who are YOU to write about a deaf character if you’re not deaf?” Well, to answer that I explained that I was always interested in Deaf culture. I first studied ASL when I was in college. I took a class with a wonderful teacher who was the first deaf person I ever interacted with (save for side glances at people who were rapidly speaking ASL with each other that I’d see in restaurants or other places.) After the first year I learned enough to be a teacher’s assistant for him the next year. But then, having no one to practice with I didn’t get to use it for nearly 20 years. What many people might not know about me, (but will now say, “OH that’s why she can’t hear me sometimes”) I also am hard of hearing in my left ear to the tune of between 40%-60% hearing loss (I need a checkup). As a kid, I had three surgeries in that ear and it left a lot of scar tissue. I can obviously still hear, but it is very difficult at times when there is background noise and I’m trying to concentrate on someone either calling me from upstairs, or speaking to me when they’re not facing me.

I really think people will like this series. It was originally with a publishing company, who unfortunately folded right before FLYING TO THE FIRE was going to come out. So then I got a great agent who tried to hustle them for nearly a year. When he couldn’t, he suggested I change the covers and self publish them. So, now I’m the one hustling!

I did a lot of press on the first book and was written up on many wonderful sites in the Deaf community. Sharon Pajka, a professor at Gallaudet, wrote the novel up on her blog “Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature.” You can read the interview here: http://pajka.blogspot.com/2012/03/interview-with-flying-to-light-author.html The second book is on its way to her momentarily.

Book #1 was even showed at The Deaf Unity Event in London, so I was asked to make a video. I got an interpreter to help me and I put in captions. I had only days to do it, but this is what I was able to come up with. I am speaking REALLY slowly because I’m looking into a mirror and I can tell when the interpreter is catching up with me! 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWIpJrOfwlA

I am planning on a 99 cent sale of FLYING TO THE LIGHT on August 13th and August 14th. (my blog followers here are getting this information first!), so grab your copy then. If you just can’t wait and want to nab it earlier, FLYING TO THE LIGHT is available on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/1u6xwpV Book #2 in the series, FLYING TO THE FIRE will be available August 30th.

Book #1 & #2 in my Deaf Thriller Series

Book #1 & #2 in my Deaf Thriller Series

For those who have already read the book – if you could leave a review on Amazon it would be so appreciated! And… there is a Book #3 in the works. It is tentatively titled, FLYING HOME, and it will tie up the trilogy. Love to hear your thoughts and come join the event! 🙂 And also, don’t forget to check out Talk With Sign Book’s website in the UK for some amazing products for the community. http://talkwithsign.com/

Stop Being a Stodgy Writer – Get out of your Comfort Zone and Move into 2014!

ebookEvery generation complains about the generation before it. With the publishing industry, it’s no different. I swear if I’d tried to publish what I have now twenty years ago, my books just may have been picked up by a big six. (or so I tell myself as a pep talk) I think at the very least I’d have had some agents vying for them. Of course I wouldn’t have had social media to rely on at all but I think the environment was very different. There were less writers and more brick and mortar stores. Places like online bookstores just didn’t exist.

So here’s where we need to change our thinking. The world has changed. It is now viral. You may think you don’t need to jump on board, but that’s a big mistake because these kids you think you don’t need to reach now are going to be immersed in this medium… well, forever. Social media is where you advertise and meet people. This is the way of the world and this is how it is changing. It’s time for writers get out of their comfort zone. This is not the 70’s or 80’s. Saying “sorry, I’m old school and only read paperbacks” is just plain silly talk. It’s 2014 and the world has forged ahead. You can get on a plane now, or travel with a small electronic device and have literally a 1000 books on it that you’ve downloaded.

But there are downsides to this as well – as authors well know. The changing industry has also changed reader’s perceptions. Many think “well, I’ll just wait for the book to be free or just 99 cents.” That hurts a writer’s ability to make a living, for sure. But this is the way of the world and you see this very struggle happening with the big publishing companies on how to get people to actually spend money on books. It’s why they are limited now with taking on debut authors. They desperately need to know that the books they promote will actually sell. So that’s why you see the same celebrities getting book deals (or ridiculous ones like the Kardashians). Or famous authors who just put out book after book. They have a built in fan base and it’s a surer deal than taking on someone that is an “unknown.”

But, there are places for the unknown to shine, and self publishing is it. But it comes with its own set of rules and struggles. With Amazon now doing unlimited monthly readership memberships (which I think is actually pretty cool for a reader, though pretty tough for a writer) it changes the playing field again. Still, we need to look at this with an open mind. The publishing environment today will most likely look very different in ten years. Just look at the last ten years to see what I’m talking about.

I’ve got Book #2 in my FLYING series coming out August 30th. I’m going to try to do a free book promotion with a company I’ve never used before. The concept of PAYING money to offer a free book is a startling, and quite uncomfortable, concept for me and is definitely out of my comfort zone, but this entire past year I’ve done nearly everything out of my comfort zone. I did a Vlog where I talked about comparing publishing to growing pumpkins (and boy, did I obsess about what I’d look and sound like), I’ve done book signings, author chats, put out my novels knowing that once they went into the world, the critiques would begin. But the fact is, if you want to be heard, you have to yell.

So I leave you with this. Stop being stodgy, go into things with an open mind. Don’t worry if you don’t know at first what you’re doing – just try it. I assure you, age is never a limit to what you can learn if you just try. Don’t miss the boat simply because you refuse to get on the water. Do that and you’ll never go anywhere.

And for folks who would like updates on when my books will be free or when new releases are coming out, please sign up for my e-newsletter here: http://www.elysesalpeter.com/contact.html

Virtual Friends… Are they Real Friends? You Bet!

Like to Read? Join a virtual book club.

Like to Read? Join a virtual book club.

One of the most amazing things to come out of this explosion of social media is the friendships that you can make. We teach our children that you have to be careful on the internet. That these “friends” they meet on chat, gaming or fan boards may not be who they think they are. They could be trolls, adults posing as kids, or just completely different personas. How you can’t give out personal information or passwords and that you must be very careful.

All of that is true. But we’re not 12 year old kids. We’re adults and we are on platforms where it becomes very easy to interact with a host of people based on our interests. While true that your first encounter with a virtual person may be fraught with the unknown, one of the wonderful things about social media is that you can regularly interact with these people and filter out the ones who are not who they say they are (or who you simply find you don’t bond with or share their values)

I’m on special Facebook groups filled with individuals who are on there based on our shared interests. Right off the bat I have something in common with these people and I’d call many of them friends. And some of them really good friends. These are people that if I’m frustrated or bored or just want to chat, I feel very comfortable simply IMing them and saying hello. If I need advice, I just do another message and lo and behold, they respond. We regularly play FB games as well and do the little chat sections there too. These people live all over the country – heck, some on the other side of the world, but I can call them friends.

On Twitter I get to interact with peeps on a whole different level. It’s usually funny little quips and comments back and forth. It’s very hard to be “intimate” in 140 characters, so you glean from a person just enough based on what they share. But after a few dozen interactions over months, you start to know people and can chat with them. That’s where specialized lists on twitter come in. You can select a smaller group of people and just visit those lists to see what they’re up to.

You see, each of us seeks things we might be missing in other areas of our lives. It’s why we have friends in the first place. We might have the one friend that likes to go out and party, we have the friend we can have private conversations with, the friend that likes to cook, the one that will let you cry on her shoulder and never judges. The friend that gives you the attention to simply speak to them about your feelings and they don’t walk away or do something else – the ones that make you feel valued and worthy and that what you have to say is important enough to give you the attention you deserve to simply listen. At least virtually. 🙂 Now, with social media, you have outlets for all these things.

So for people frustrated that they are not being heard in their personal lives, seek out new friends online. There is absolutely no reason in this day and age to remain sitting in your house alone with no one to talk to. While real life interaction is always preferred, this is a very fine second option. Find a like-minded Facebook group, go find a cool hangout on Google+, play games on FB, interact on Twitter. Respond to people. If you’re an author and want advice, there are literally thousands of authors on FB in groups – groups to tweet, groups for blogs, groups for advice. Do you love a certain writer? There are groups to obsessively drool over them. Do you like to cook? Are gluten-free? Groups for those. Just be aware, though. I’ve found on some groups the “flavor” of the people wasn’t to my personal liking. I’ve actually left some groups because they were filled with people with a different value system than I had. Or they were angry people, or complainers. You see, a virtual group really is like real life cliques. They morph into their own category of people and you could choose to remain with them or leave. The great thing about social media is it’s a simple “stop notifications” button, leave group or just delete and you’re done and ready to find another group that better fits your needs.

Yes, you need to be careful, yes you must remember that sometimes people are not how they appear, but after a while, just like in real life, you will be able to recognize the real friends you are making. So your lesson for today is go out right now, type in your hobby in a search button and find a new friend. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Love to hear your thoughts.

Public Versus Private – How Much is Too Much?

publicThis is one of those conundrums indie authors face. How much of yourself do you keep personal and how much do you allow to be public? When you are publishing books without the backing of a big house and you are doing all the social media yourself, you need to continually find ways to be in the public’s eye and brand yourself. This means, in my opinion, you need to use your real name (or the name on the cover of your books). The reason for this is that you must make it easy for readers to find you, no matter what social media platform you are on.

The question is, how much is public versus private? I have a FB page, Twitter, WordPress Blog, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads, Linkedin, etc., and all of them have my real name. Each of these mediums also has a bio about me and while I try to keep them consistent, I also try to switch them up based on the particular medium I’m in. Twitter has me as an author, black belt and gastronaut (shock food fan), while other sites I chat up my gardening skills and others I talk about my pet ferret. On LinkedIn I actually downplay my writing and concentrate on my sales day job because I do have to make a living.

So, the question is, how much information is okay to share? I’ve heard readers don’t want to see you just preaching to them to buy your book. Nowadays with the ease of the internet and free knowledge about everything under the sun, they personally want to KNOW you. They want to see what you like, how you think and sometimes, just want to chat. I know that when I reach out to an author, and sometimes “famous ones,” that I get a real kick when they write me back. I’ve had personal conversations with a few “famous” thriller authors on FB and on twitter – not to mention probably a thousand other amazing indie writers on both mediums. I love learning a bit more about them, knowing what makes them tick and why they write what they write. Sometimes people have bought my books just because they know me personally or know me via my virtual persona.

I try to steer clear of discussing religion, politics, sex and personal finances. I also don’t list my home address or personal phone numbers and while I may discuss my family, I try to keep most private information private. Seriously, there are some things people don’t need to know. But besides those small things, everything else should be fine. Think of every post passing “the mom test.” If you won’t get a call from your mother about your post, then you should be fine!

Love to hear your thoughts on this. And for those interested in joining my email newsletter list, please sign up here. I will be offering a free short story in the next few days and information about the new book release of FLYING TO THE FIRE – book #2 in my YA Deaf thriller series. http://www.elysesalpeter.com/contact.html

I also am doing a Goodreads Giveaway of my Buddhist themed thriller, THE HUNT FOR XANADU. Please consider entering or putting my novel on your shelf. https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/96220-the-hunt-for-xanadu