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The Pitfalls of Writing Cross Genre

THE WORLD OF KAROV - New Adult Dark Fantasy series

THE WORLD OF KAROV – New Adult Dark Fantasy series

Someone once told me that I “published wrong.” The first book I ever published was a young adult tale called FLYING TO THE LIGHT about a deaf boy who knows about the afterlife and now people are after him. The second book I published was a fantasy novel, more New Adult in target, the third was the sequel to FLYING TO THE LIGHT, called FLYING TO THE FIRE and the 4th was the sequel to the dark fantasy book.

So, what does that mean? I’m a YA novelist, right? Well, no. I actually define myself as an adult thriller/horror writer, if asked. Those YA books I had mostly written years ago and had the opportunity to publish them first. Since then, the books that I’ve put out are all adult thrillers or horror.

There’s the Kelsey Porter series which are sexy buddhist thrillers, and two horror novels. The pitfalls of writing cross genre is that some of my YA fans have picked up the thrillers and been… well… surprised. The YA books were very clean… albeit a bit violent as I tend to write that way, but they weren’t adult books. As a result, I’ve had to caveat to a lot of people whether or not their children can read any of my other books. Usually I tell them “no.” Not that it’s erotica – it’s not at all, and not that they’re dirty, they’re not, but they have adult themes and are just not what I’d picture a kid could read.

That said, my daughter read my horror novels just fine at the age of thirteen and my fourteen year old son wishes to read THE HUNT FOR XANADU. I think he’s two years too young, but he’s adamant so we discuss it chapter by chapter. Books #2 and #3 in the series are “more tame” to be honest. But there’s a reason I set up Book #1 the way I did. You’d have to read it to find out or it would be a huge spoiler.

FLYING - Young Adult Series

FLYING – Young Adult Series

I find I’m getting mostly fans now with my adult books, but then these same people will go back to read my YA books and I wonder if they get confused or upset? They are all so different and you wonder if the pitfalls of writing cross genre means you confuse your readers if they wish to read other works by you, thinking they’ll be similar. That said, I would just advise authors to make sure you’re very clear in the book blurbs what the books are about and what genre it is so there are no surprises.

On my webpage at www.elysesalpeter.com I have headers for all the genres, and hope that makes it more clear for people.

Kelsey Porter thriller series

Kelsey Porter thriller series

As to the “publishing wrong” comments? Well, not much I can do about that. I write what I write, when I write it. It’s how my brain works. But I don’t think the cross genre is a bad thing. I actually write in one genre, but across different age groups. All my books have a fantastical element to them. In the FLYING SERIES it was the young boy who knew about the afterlife, in the NA WORLD OF KAROV Dark Fantasy Series, it was an evil spreading across the universe, in the KELSEY PORTER series, they’re adult Buddhist Spiritual Mysteries. I was just lucky enough that a publishing house picked one of them up and it just morphed from there. When you have an arsenal of books in your library waiting to get out to the world, do you just let them sit there because you want to be a specialist in one genre or the other, or do you let them be free? I decided to publish them all and let the chips fall as they may.

Horror Novel - "I beg of you... stay away..."

Horror Novel – “I beg of you… stay away…”

A collection of creepy horror tales...

A collection of creepy horror tales…

Anyone else write cross genre? Do you as a reader find it confusing when an author mixes things up in this fashion or do you like it? Love to hear.

If you’d like to check out all the novels, here’s my amazon author page: http://amzn.to/1NiXfjT

The Day I Learned There are “Dirty” Words in Sign Language.

profanityI had such a great response to my post on “My Fascination with Sign Language,” I thought I’d share some other stories from my Professor Larry Forrestal, who was my teacher when I took ASL in college. Larry was deaf and conducted the entire class in sign language so the students would be immediately immersed in the language.

One of the great things about ASL is that within about four chapters of vocabulary words, you can actually start speaking to each other. The language is amazing. There are a lot of technical things, like grammar, and there’s a perception that ASL is “English.” While the words are in English, the grammar is different and just like any other language, there are proper ways to say things in order to communicate more effectively. Only problem is, I’m terrible at grammar – both in English AND ASL.

But, to get back to the topic of this post, like any other language, there are also dirty words! To a bunch of college-aged kids, learning them became a source of secret pride. I remember one day in class Professor Forrestal was doing something at the front of the room and a bunch of us started openly speaking about the fact that there are dirty words in ASL. (Larry had told us previously there were not). We began to show each other all the words we had learned. (some of them from the Marlee Matlin movie Children of a Lesser God). “BS” was a big one and a few other choice words of content that I just can’t post here. BUT, the embarrassing thing was Larry had slinked up behind us and was watching us do the words and when we realized he was there, we were so embarrassed. But, true to his wonderful character, he just rolled his eyes, brought us all into a circle and proceeded to teach us the proper way to say these words. He signed “if you’re determined to do them, at least do them right!” Really loved this guy. All I’ll say is that one of the words looks like “pizza” with a double pump to the chin and another looks like “shoes.” There’s a few more, but suffice it to say that like in any language there is indeed, slang.

flying montage I’m thinking of adding some slang in my next ASL book. My main character is getting older and I’m curious if teens use it. I may have to inquire at Mill Neck Manor if I can come in and speak to the kids again to see if they can help me. They were invaluable when I was writing book #2 in the series. FLYING TO THE LIGHT is about a young deaf boy who knows about the afterlife and now people are after him for the answer. FLYING TO THE FIRE continues the tale seven years later and my main character’s life is suddenly turned upside down yet again. Book #3 is going to be called FLYING HOME… I already know what the main story is about, but now I have to figure out how to get there.

So I ask folks this: I always thought I’d end the series in a trilogy, but could this tale continue further and should I set it up to keep going? It was not something I thought about until a few weeks ago. Love to hear your thoughts.

My Fascination with Sign Language

When I was a little kid, I was fascinated with sign language. I remember finding a pamphlet with all the letters in ASL (American Sign Language) on it and practicing until I learned the alphabet. I would have loved to have practiced with someone, but I never interacted with a deaf person before. Except for seeing it in the movie with Marlee Matlin aslin “Children of a Lesser God,” I had so little experience with the culture and it wasn’t until I was in college in a sign language class, that I actually met my first deaf person. He was my professor, Larry Forrestal, and he was just awesome.

Professor Forrestal was deaf and didn’t speak. The entire class was conducted in sign language and whatever he felt like writing on the black board. I remember only hearing him speak once. It was later in the year and he called out someone’s name when they were walking away from him and he couldn’t get their attention. Dumbfounded, we all stared at him and signed, “You Can Speak?” He shook his head no, but gave a sly grin. I bet he could speak, but he chose not too.

Another funny story: One day, we met in the evening for a study group and we were walking with our professor through the Student Union to our meeting area. There was a huge party going on and the music was so loud, “I couldn’t hear myself think.” I saw Professor Forrestal “dancing and moving” along to the music and I signed to him “How are you dancing? You hear it?” He rolled his eyes, grabbed my hand and another girl’s hand and pushed us both to the floor. Here were the three of us, our professor and two of his students, sitting on the floor in the middle of this very active building and he’d pressed our hands to the floor so we could feel the pulsations from the bass from the music “loud and clear.” He also pointed to his chest and told us to just “feel it” and of course we could. We sat there for a while, just “listening” with him along to the music. It was a very big wake up call for me.

flying montageSign Language and the deaf culture has fascinated me ever since and when I was writing a YA series, I decided to make my main character deaf. FLYING TO THE LIGHT is about a young deaf boy who knows about the afterlife and now people are after him for the answer. FLYING TO THE FIRE continues the tale seven years later and my main character’s life is suddenly turned upside down yet again. What I think has really appealed to people is that my character’s family primarily uses sign language to communicate with him and at no time is his deafness a disability. It is simply a part of who he is.

I just love that my interest as a little girl morphed into something so amazing and brought me to this spot. Have you had experiences with the culture? I’d love to hear. Please drop me a note on my website and join my e-newsletter. Just click for newsletter updates here and then click “Contact Me.”

New Release for FLYING TO THE FIRE is Today – Book #2 in a YA thriller series!

flying montageHey everyone! Today is the launch of Book #2 in my deaf thriller series called FLYING TO THE FIRE!

An evil black mass has burst through Danny Anderson’s nightmares to attack him in broad daylight. If it weren’t for his birds, he would have died. Danny soon realizes that this monster is not coming for him, but for his little sister, Katie…because while he looks up to a place of light and peace, Katie looks down into realms of darkness and cruelty. Time is running out. The monster grows stronger with each attempt to steal Katie away to these dark dimensions, forcing Danny into the fight of his life to save his sister–before she is lost to him forever.

Want to grab your copy? Click here on Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Flying-Fire-Book-2-ebook/dp/B00MDKZAG4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409402671&sr=8-1&keywords=flying+to+the+fire

I’m so excited at all the reviews that Book #1, FLYING TO THE LIGHT, received! In fact, just a few days ago a Professor of English from Gallaudet named Sharon Pajka gave me a 5 Star review. She also just finished reviewing FLYING TO THE FIRE and is going to do a write up on her blog “Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature.” Here’s her review if you’d like to check it out! http://www.amazon.com/review/RA1AYTHSCQLDR/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00J8ZPKWG

I’ve been very fortunate to get written up on so many blogs about this series. Some blogs about the launch are already out, so take a peek! They’re all great and you may wish to start following these people now!

Chris Mentzer: http://mentzer2150.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/fifth-tower-interview-elyse-salpeter/comment-page-1/?blogsub=confirmed#blog_subscription-2
Forever Friends: http://www.2foreverfriends.com/forever-friends-blog/flying-to-the-fire
Sharon Pajka’s blog “Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature:” http://pajka.blogspot.com/

I’m featuring a special FB event today with lots of prizes – feel free to come on by and check it out! Goes from 9-5. Join here! https://www.facebook.com/events/669594469785008/

Thank you everyone – your support means so much to me and if you’ve read the books and liked them, by all means, please consider leaving a review on Amazon and Goodreads – I’d truly appreciate it!

Elyse

Launching a Sequel

Book #1 & #2 in my Deaf Thriller Series

Book #1 & #2 in my Deaf Thriller Series

I’ve heard in the industry that it is very difficult launching a sequel. For starters, unless it’s a standalone, readers need to read the first book in the series to develop a relationship with the story and the characters. So, the question is, how do you launch a sequel successfully?

Answer? Promotion and creativity. I’m launching Book #2 in my YA thriller series on August 30th. The novel is called FLYING TO THE FIRE and is the sequel to FLYING TO THE LIGHT. The books are about a deaf boy who knows about the afterlife and now people are after him for the answer.

Until August 14th, I’m offering the kindle version of Book #1 for only 99 cents (and £0.77 in the UK). That’s right, today, tomorrow and Thursday, FLYING TO THE LIGHT is just 99 cents for your kindle. I figure this way new readers can grab a copy and have the opportunity to read it before book #2 comes out (and possibly even get a few more reviews in as well).

In addition, I’m advertising on ENT, The Fussy Librarian, hopefully Pixel of Ink if they pick it up, and will promote on all the FB 99 cent sites, Google+ and Twitter. FLYING TO THE LIGHT has been out for a bit and has sold pretty well. I’m hoping with a series in place that it will continue to develop a nice audience. I’m about to start on Book #3 soon and it’s tentatively titled FLYING HOME.

On August 30th, I’ve got 9 – 10 bloggers promoting the book and doing a special book launch event on FB where I’ll be giving away prizes. I’ll have signed copies of FLYING TO THE FIRE and FLYING TO THE LIGHT, a voucher from a deaf retailer, Itunes cards, etc… This will be the first time I’m doing one of these all by myself, so we’ll see how it goes. I have over 100 people coming so far, so I’m very excited. Please feel free to join the online event here to win some fun prizes. No pressure to buy, just joining and participating would be great, too. https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/669594469785008/

If you’d like to purchase FLYING TO THE LIGHT for just 99 cents, please do so here:

US: http://www.amzn.com/B00J8ZPKWG
UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flying-Light-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00J8ZPKWG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407850545&sr=8-1&keywords=flying+to+the+light

It’s at this price until August 14th and then will go back up to $2.99.

If anyone would care to do a write-up, interview or promotion on their own blogs because they’re looking for content on August 30th or anytime the week after, please feel free to let me know and I’ll provide anything you need.

Thanks so much and happy reading!

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

Does Your Book Have a Hook? Find it!

Millneck Manor Talk

Millneck Manor Talk

You’ve written this great book, told all your friends, family, promoted on FB, Twitter, Google+. Maybe you’ve done a little ad here and there, a goodreads event. Is it selling? Could you sell more?

Here is where the hook comes in. Think about your novel and think about where else you could sell this book and who would be interested. I wrote a buddhist based thriller called THE HUNT FOR XANADU. I’ve actually gone onto different buddhist sites and promoted the book there, did a signing at a tea shop and contacted buddhist bookstores to see if they’d like to carry it. The book is really just a thriller but the over-riding element is a buddhism theme.

I’ve also done a YA novel with a young deaf boy called FLYING TO THE LIGHT. This has been a much easier book to find a hook for. I’ve contacted every single deaf school in the country – with an email to their librarian and principal, discussing the novel. I’ve locally done two “talks” at deaf schools and while I know some ASL, they had an interpreter for me. I’ve gone onto a lot of different deaf sites on FB and promoted the book, and the book trailers there. I’ve also gone online to various deaf websites to see if they would like to give the novel a write-up as well. Nothing is a bad idea. What’s the worst thing that can happen? They say no? We’re authors, I think we’ve heard the word “no” enough times to be able to handle it.

My newest angle is specialized book fairs. On May 18th, I’ve been selected to join a Book Fair at Mill Neck Manor’s School for the Deaf in Millneck, New York. The program is from 12-4, is free to everyone and is to help support their Literacy Program. If you live on Long Island and want to come, please check out the information included. There will be raffles and activities for children. millneck

The trick is to find the hook in your novel and run with it. Maybe your character loves cookies – try to do a signing in a bakery, maybe they are a fantastic runner – contact the local running groups and make some friends there, maybe they like to fish, are a veteran, etc… you get the idea. Find out some distinguishing factors about your characters and how you can find that little “in” to promote it someplace else versus the standard fare.

Any cool ideas you’ve done? Can’t wait to hear them!

Should You Ever Change Your Book’s Cover?

This is a very difficult question for authors, and for me specifically. I have no design eye. It’s why every wall in my house is painted “cream” or “off white” and our style of decoration is a touch above IKEA. To put some color in the house, I simply chose to add artwork, knick knacks and area rugs from the “fall hue family.” Meaning, if it’s an autumn gold, a deep green, a navy, a rustic red, or a mustard I’ve used it and hoped it all sort of meshed together.

So, when I am posed with creating a cover for my books, I’m clueless. My first published novel, FLYING TO THE LIGHT, was published by Cool Well Press. This was the cover they made for my novel about a young deaf boy who knows about the afterlife and now people are after him for the answer. It was dark, really just a few muted colors, but we loved the image of the little boy looking towards the light and the wonderful birds in the background. flyingwebresize

When that publishing company closed, I was given the book back. It was agented, but he couldn’t sell it. He suggested I change the cover and self publish it to get it back out to market. I sought out LLPix Photography and here’s what we came up with. We wanted something brighter… and to scream thriller, to show the relationship in the book between the two brothers and not just have it be about the little boy. And, to show that this book is still dark. I think the mood she created was really nice and spoke to that.
Flying to the light FINAL

I had polled a lot of readers on Facebook as to which cover they liked better. It was a very mixed review. Some folks who have already read book #1 liked that first cover, though they did feel it may have been too “religious looking.” Many new readers felt Cover #2 had a much better vibe.

My problem is that I always want too much in a cover – the entire kitchen sink, so it’s important, for me, to seek out a professional who can scale me back. But, the going consensus in the industry is that your cover is EXTREMELY important. It is the first thing a potential reader sees and if you can’t grab them immediately, you’ve already lost them. If the book isn’t selling, and you are certain it’s a good book, it doesn’t hurt to try a new cover.

So, which cover do you like? Would you pick up the blue cover or the dark cover if you saw both sitting on the shelf?

And for those interested in purchasing the novel, here is the link: http://amzn.to/1h3u6ZB
Book #2 in the series is going to be called FLYING TO THE FIRE and it’s with beta readers right now. Then back to an editor, a proofer and it will be in your hands. If you would like to get on my mailing list for announcements about new releases, please do so here (fyi – I will never give out my list to anyone or sell your name to anyone). http://www.elysesalpeter.com/contact.html

Of course, before I do anything for book #2, I first have to make the cover! Don’t get me started on what I want in THIS one!