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When You’re Too Scared to Publish

So, I’ve written over 12 books and countless short stories, but I actually have two finished novels sitting in my computer that I don’t have the nerve to publish.

How weird is that, right? But it’s true. The reason is because these two novels have an angle to them that my other books don’t. #1 they are violent… and #2 they are “spicy.” So spicy and violent that I had an editor who worked with this genre read the one called A LIFE TAKEN and told me, “It’s good, but even I might have nightmares.” OMG. What exactly does that mean? Is that good? I have also had beta readers take a peek at the other novel, tentatively titled TAKEN, and they have nice things to say as well – that said, both books need some serious editing, but it’s the core of each of the novels that concerns me. What will readers think OF ME if they read this? So many times a reader thinks that the author truly believes in the things they write. Does that mean I love violence, love watching terrible things happen to people? I don’t, but we must always remember, this is a fictional story.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child get a lot of flack for the amount of dogs that seem to get killed in their books. I spoke to Douglas about it once and he said it best. “No fictional dogs were actually killed in this fictional book.” We make things up. That’s what we do.

It’s like an actor getting into a role. They can be the meekest person on earth, but then onscreen they are an extraverted vixen! It’s like that with writing. I had this idea in my head and said, “You know what? Write it, get out of your comfort zone, and see where it goes!”

So, they’re written and yet I don’t have the guts to publish them. But, here’s part of the beginning to A LIFE TAKEN. Its rough – REALLY ROUGH, Don’t bother editing for me. I just felt like if I started to tell the world about this novel, perhaps I’d get the guts to work on it and publish it.

A LIFE TAKEN is about a young girl who was kidnapped by an “evil entity/corporation” because her parents, who were spies working for them, were caught lying. This girl was sent to a location and schooled on becoming an assassin of the highest order. But, they had to break her down until she was nothing but a mindless killer. Until she had no more emotion left. Until she was nothing but a hollow shell.

Mommy!” That was all I could utter before a strange man me and picked me up hoisted me over his back. I felt my stomach thump hard onto his shoulder and I couldn’t breathe. He bolted out of my house and carried me like I was nothing but a sack of garbage while my father ran by his side and pleaded with him to let me go.

     My mother screamed and fell to her knees while the man hauled me into the car. The baby doll I carried dropped to the pavement and I heard the porcelain head crack and shatter.

     I kicked and shrieked, but a woman inside the car grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me. I tried to bite her and she smacked me hard in the face. Sobbing, I turned to the window, seeing my sister Elizabeth standing next to my brother and other sister, in shock.

     I shivered violently. It was cold that day and the man hadn’t bothered to get my jacket. The woman reached over and grabbed the harness and locked me in and I couldn’t move. I spit at her and she smacked me again, this time harder and I saw stars. The next few minutes were a whirlwind of horror. My mother racing to the car and throwing herself onto my kidnapper. Her raking her nails down his cheeks and him punching her. She fell to the pavement, got up and lunged again, swerving by him and slamming her hands into the glass window next to me. She beat against the glass, begging them to let me go. That she “was sorry.”

     I lifted my hands, calling for her through my tears. My father was behind her, fighting with someone and I saw one of them take a gun and hit him in his temple. Someone else grabbed my mother and threw her to the ground.

     Car doors opened and slammed as others filled the vehicle. One man shoved himself next to me and the other jumped into the front seat and took the wheel.  The man next to me took out his gun and trained it on my mother, who had yet again made it to the car door.  In English he spoke to my parents, in an accent I later learned was German. “It’s your own fault this happened. You have no one to blame but yourselves for this. Did you think they would simply allow you to go against them? Now she’s ours as punishment. If you don’t want to lose the rest of them, I suggest you start obeying orders. They won’t give any of you a second chance.”

     And with that, the car sped away and my life as I knew it was over. I had one last look at my family standing in the front yard of our house, my sisters and brothers stunned, my parents bleeding and crying. I remember the look in my mother’s eyes and it took me until I was older to understand what her haunted expression meant. Back then, I thought she was just sad, but I realized it was so much more than that. She was devastated, horrified and fearful for me. For she knew what the Dasien were capable of.     

And she would be right.

Well, folks, there is novel #1 put out to the universe. Now, let’s see what I do with it. Have any of you had this sort of quandary with your own work? Love to hear how you got the guts to release it to the world.

Conquering Your Fears

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ve met so many people that absolutely refuse to do things. Things that would actually make them happy, but they don’t, because they are scared. I have someone older, close to me, that refuses to use a computer, or an IPAD. They love to shop, they love to play games, they love to watch old movies and see photos and connect with people, but the fear of learning, or even touching, that device is simply too terrifying for them.

I know someone else who struggles with their health and refuses to exercise (or do more than walking casually) over fear they “won’t feel well,” or that “they’ll do too much” and then won’t feel well. This real fear stops them from doing things they sometimes will casually say, “I wish I were able to do that.”

Fear is a real thing. It’s so easy for us to just say “Oh, suck it up and just do it,” but if the mind is not ready to commit, the body simply won’t follow. Fear can stall you and cause intense distress. I started a new job this year and they mailed me a Mac, and told me we were using Slack, Googlemeets, Googlemail, etc. I’m a big PC Microsoft Office girl. Microsoft Teams. I can do Excel and Powerpoint like a pro. Using Word is as simple as breathing for me. But suddenly at 53, while I’m sitting in my attic office, alone, I’m frozen in fear as I attempted to figure out how to even turn on my Mac. People kept telling me “It’s intuitive and so easy,” but honestly things are only easy if you know what you’re doing. Add on the stress of Covid and there was no one that could even come over and sit with me to help me navigate and learn. I had to google and watch videos over and over to simply learn tricks. The fear at the beginning was palpable and I begged my company to send me a regular PC. But, I have a good friend (and my daughter) who both told me to “stop being such a big baby, and just learn it.” They were right. I was doing exactly the opposite of what I preach. I took 1000 deep breaths, told myself it’s okay if don’t become an expert at this immediately (or over the next month), and just try and learn. I’m a few months into the job and things are better. At least I can navigate around and I won’t lie, I pat myself on the back and congratulate myself when I can actually find a specific email I haven’t touched in a few weeks. It’s NOT as intuitive as everyone under the age of 30 says, but I’m handling it.

Fear is about just “doing it.” Trying, attempting. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be an expert and it’s okay if the learning curve is slow.

I joined an open water swim group last summer. I’m not a great swimmer at all and I was amazed I put myself in a situation where I was going into an open bay, and swimming longer distances than I normally do. I’m not even sure why I did it, but the thrill was there for me and I thought, “why not?” I was trying to become a better swimmer and the idea of using a wetsuit and swimming in open water kind of made me feel a bit like a badass. So, I did it. Was I slow? Oh yeah. But I got stronger. Last night was the first night this year when I rejoined the group. Look at this photo and tell me that taking the chance, swallowing my fear, wasn’t the right choice? How beautiful is that scene? I was again in the slower group, which was FINE. There were four of us, with our own wonderful couch on a paddleboard watching and paddling nearby to make sure we were safe. And I know that even though every single time I step into that bay I have a tingle of fear, I also know that I’m doing something that will feed my soul and make me healthier. I also know how absolutely lucky and fortunate I am that I have the ability to even do this.

Do you do anything that you fear? Love to hear why you do it, how you conquer it, and what you get out of it.

How do you Measure Success… before you Give Up.

That’s a pretty ominous title, isn’t it? I won’t lie, I’ve been grappling with a lot of things since Covid started. I mean, we all have. Now that life is getting back to some semblance of normal, I’ve had some big realizations of “how much time and effort” I continue to put into certain efforts that while some might say have achieved success, my personal mentality has it sitting in a lukewarm bath where all the bubbles have basically fizzed out.

Let’s talk books. I have been trying for 14 years to be a successful novelist. Am I successful? To some, sure:

  • My Kelsey Porter series is six books deep
  • The Hunt for Xanadu has a review by the amazing novelist Douglas Preston
  • The Hunt for Xanadu was a $200 Jeopardy! question back in October 2016
  • My books get really great reviews for the most part, which makes me happy
  • My FLYING TO THE LIGHT series was on a ton of deaf websites and now in deaf schools around the country

BUT, I’m not selling anything. Well, not enough to sustain an actual wage. In fact, there are some months I can’t even get a latte at Starbucks with my earnings. This month is doing pretty good, for me, but would appall someone trying to pay their mortgage. To be honest, I’m just ecstatic someone is reading my novels and even happier when I get that coveted review.

But, it’s exhausting folks. Just exhausting.

When Covid hit, I published Book #6 in the Kelsey Porter series in May 2020. And then, for the first time in 14 years, I stopped writing. I mean, I literally ceased. I used to write every day. But it was as if my brain went on hold and had enough. Part of me wants to get back to it, but another part of me is sad at the same time. I do have one completely finished, and professionally edited, and beta read, genetic thriller sitting in my computer, but I’m leery to publish it. My beta readers and editor came back lukewarm to my bad guys, and the book has some racial undertones. Due to the current social climate of the world right now, I’m simply not strong enough to publish and withstand any backlash, because I’m 100% sure there will be as people are so sensitive right now, so this 75K romantic thriller is just sitting in my computer. I have thought about it a lot over the year. Do I revamp the bad guys? Do I change my characters? I just don’t know. I’m just too exhausted to start over. I mean, I love the book as it is, but… well… do I trust those who have reviewed it? Yep. But at the same time, I’m conflicted. So, it just sits…

I’ve decided to simply let life happen to me as it happens. If I want to write again one day, I will. Even doing this blog post is a big deal. I’ve been lax with that, too. But I think it will come back again. Once the world rights itself and once I get a chance to stop having to manage and navigate the emotional stresses all around me.

Be safe everyone. Try to find your joy. Love to hear from you.

Why in the World am I on TikTok?

It seems like every few months there is a new form of social media technology to conquer. I made a deal with myself that I would never shy away from technology and have made a promise to at least get on and try to use whatever platform was now trending.

My goal is not to go viral. I mean, I’m lucky I can figure out the user face of each platform. I never figured out Tumblr. I couldn’t even get myself past the home page!

But I’m on Facebook, with an author page, too. I have two Instagram accounts, one for my “life” and the other about paleo-ish recipes I make. Then there’s snapchat, which I hardly ever use, unless I want to play with funny filters. Pinterest was big with me for a long time. I have so many boards, but now I only go on occasionally. Twitter and I have a love/hate relationship. I have over 29,000 followers but get very little engagement on there. What’s the point of that many followers if no one is responding?

If you’d like to follow me on any of the above platforms, check out my http://www.Linktr.ee/elysesalpeter and you’ll be able to get to all of them.

So now there’s tiktok. My daughter is pretty big on TikTok, having gotten verified a few months ago, so I thought why not learn how to make videos? I’ve done a few that I thought were good. (though my kids roll their eyes at me). My issue, as is my issue on every social media platform I do, is that I’m not focused on one thing. I love to write, to cook, to do triathlons, to travel, to be with family and friends. It’s like my writing. I don’t write in one genre, but five!

That said, I’ve made a few tiktoks that have gotten a few hundred views and hit 1K followers, which allows me to “Go Live.” I have made a decision that on Thursday nights, at 8 EST, I am going to do a horror read. That’s where I’ll chat with anyone that comes on and after a few minutes I’ll read a short flash fiction story from my short story horror collection, Ricket Row. I did it last Thursday and read AWAKE. I have to say, the two people that were there were kind! LOL! Hopefully I’ll get a larger audience this week. I’ll report.

What kind of social media do you focus on? Have you tried TikTok yet? Love to hear.

You Don’t Have to be Perfect

I am one of those people who strives to be a perfectionist. I say strive, because I’m clearly not. I have to hire amazing editors to check my novels because my grammar is pretty terrible, I strive to “place” in any race I enter and I usually don’t, I try to create videos that go viral and I’m lucky I get a few people to like them.

BUT THAT IS OK. At least I tried. I was fortunate to take a class my job offered me, by Brian Parsley, who is a motivational speaker. Something he said really stuck with me. It was all about communication and perceptions, but there was one thing he said that stood out. “Stop trying to be perfect.”

You see, I’ll write a letter to a client for my job and I’ll obsess over it. I’ll check the wording over and over. Let it sit sometimes for a spell and then finally, after another eyeball, I will finally send it out. Well, if this letter is not a proposal, does not have rates or anything that will bite me in the tush, I now will give it maybe a “two eyeball” review and launch it to the world. I’m not going to obsess over a comma any longer. My goal and intention is there, clear as a bell.

I’m trying to use this philosophy in other aspects of my life right now. I just started taking an amazing free class on how to place ads on Amazon. I sort of stumbled upon it and in the first few days of viewing the first video, I made and published three Amazon ads for THE HUNT FOR XANADU. I’ve done some amazon ads before, completely failing at them, and after this class I learned every selection I did, was wrong. I bid wrong. I wrote the wrong type of copy, the wrong type of ad, the wrong targeting! Fingers crossed this one shows some promise. I’ll do some future posts about my experience once I learn enough to speak with a bit of educated clarity on it.

So I leave you with this. Stop always trying to be perfect. Keep trying, but don’t let that idea of perfection be what stops you from trying something new. Every single person started out as a beginner. Every single person has their own path, their own goals, and their own abilities. You be you. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to others.

We are winners for just getting out there.

2020 The Lost Year

Hi everyone. I don’t know about you, but 2020 was probably the most challenging year of my life, both mentally, emotionally and physically. I started the year like I always do, with so many goals. I was going to train and sign up for an Olympic distance triathlon, I was going to publish a book, travel, join some new social groups.

And then the Pandemic hit. In early March everyone in NY was in a tizzy about grocery stores doing away with plastic bags. People were so upset about that, and then Covid hit. Quarantine. Life absolutely changed.

As a Gen X girl, I handled quarantine really well. My generation is super good at keeping ourselves busy. I spent quarantine outside – most times by myself, biking, swimming, jogging. I was able to keep my brain busy exercising.

I also published Book 6 in my Kelsey Porter series, called THE JOURNEY BACK. I love this book. For those invested in the series, it gives you insight into the characters that you didn’t see in the other books. One note of caution – don’t read book 6 unless you read book 5, THE SEARCH FOR STARLIGHT. Just trust me on this.

Probably the biggest and saddest part for me for 2020, was the friendships that seemed to go by the wayside. I learned the true nature of so many people. It was as if a blinder was pulled off my eyes and you could see that the values of many people were clearly not my own. I had to decide how I felt about that. Did I want to interact with people that said derogatory things? That made racist comments as if it meant nothing. That didn’t believe science? That said hateful things about the LGBT community? And don’t get me started on politics. I refuse to go into it. It’s just too darn sad. It was like 2020 said, “Let it rip folks and I simply don’t care anymore.”

AND THEN… to end this horrible year, my family of four got Covid. We are diligent folks. For 10 months we wore our masks everywhere and anytime we did anything it was with the conscious thought of safety. And yet, all it takes is one person to take down a family. This virus is rough, folks. My children thankfully breezed through it like rockstars, but me and my husband are struggling a bit. Weeks out I still have congestion and exhaustion at times. But I am taking it one day at a time and have incorporated some herbal inhalation treatments (filled with everything from cinnamon sticks and red onions and other fruits and veggies) along with juicing. It seems to be helping a little bit every day.

I have never been so glad for a new year in my life. 2021, please be gentle with us. We could use it. Be safe my friends.

Training for Triathlons – Thank you Lifetime Gym

In March, 2018, I joined Lifetime Gym. I was actually at the time looking for a place that had great wi-fi, a cafe and a place for me to work since I was working from home for my job and was getting way “too distracted.” Kids calling from school: “Can you bring me my backpack, my homework, food…” to “is dinner ready? Can you bring up the laundry,” etc. So, I needed to get out of the house and I thought maybe I’d take some classes, too, while I’m there. Figured a monthly membership was cheaper than renting an office!

It turned out to be GREAT. I’d go super early, take a cycle class, or workout class, go to the café and eat breakfast and then work for a few hours and then take a lunch class, shower and then head home, where I’d work for the rest of the day.

While there, I heard about Lifetime’s indoor triathlon and I so wanted to try it. I’d never attempted three events for a race and I was intrigued. It’s a sprint tri and all indoors, so I felt safe starting with that. I started cycling and running and (gulp) getting myself in the pool. I got a swim instructor lesson to test my stroke. Well, it was pathetic. I could not go ONE lap in the pool without gasping for air and having to stop to rest. Not one. She fixed a few things and told me to just do a lap at a time and build strength.

Fast forward 2+ years and the other night I just swam 1 mile in open water with a swim group. I can cycle 20 miles easily and can run about 3-4 pretty consistently. I’ll be honest, my sciatica flares up when I run, but I can do it. Everything is hard, but like life, anything you want to do takes work. I really don’t like to hear the word “no.” I hate more hearing “you’re getting too old to do this.” And while it might take me longer to get out of bed in the morning, and there are days my back is screaming, I try to tell this body to give me one more push. I refuse to go into old age quietly.

It’s like my writing. I’ve been working it for 14 years. It’s been so hard getting my books out to the world with the sheer amount of content out there, but hey, you don’t try, you will never win. So, to end this, if you are interested in a smart, female driven thriller series that I worked incredibly hard on, please give THE HUNT FOR XANADU a look. It’s just 99 cents on ebook. It was actually a Jeopardy! question back in October 2016 and the amazing author Douglas Preston wrote a review on Amazon for it – look under Editorial Reviews. Purchase here or even just read the first few pages for free! https://amzn.to/2EKG8fk

Ok, off to play tennis! Where’s my ibuprofen?? LOL!

How Invested My Family is in ASL from Writing a YA Book

Millneck Book Talk

When I was in college at Stony Brook University, I took American Sign Language, for two years. It was just something that always fascinated me and I thought the language was beautiful.

Many years later, I had the idea to write a book with a young deaf boy as the main lead. That is how FLYING TO THE LIGHT was born. It is about a deaf child who knows a secret so big that everyone in the country is after him. I then began to do school talks about the novel and had the good fortune to be able to sit with students at a few different deaf schools. But, I didn’t want to just go into the school and have an interpreter. I wanted to be able to speak to the students myself. So I started classes at The Sign Language Center in NYC to refresh what I had learned so many years ago.

I did a few talks, some at Millneck Manor and St Joseph’s School for the Deaf. I did have an interpreter at

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

both events, but I did try my best to use my skills when I could. Both of those visits were eye opening for me. While in my novel the young boy, named Danny, is deaf and does not speak, I have his entire family using sign language to communicate with him. It didn’t occur to me that a parent would not learn sign language to speak to their child. Unfortunately, I heard from the students that most families DO NOT learn sign language to speak to their deaf children. We spoke about a lot of other things, but this really hit home. The conversations really helped me in writing the sequel called, FLYING TO THE FIRE. I changed some content of that novel specifically because of my conversations with the students at these schools.

FLYING – Young Adult Series

But what is really interesting is now my children are interested in ASL and both took the language for four years in high school. And now my son is continuing his education in Deaf Studies with the hope to either be an ASL Interpreter one day or perhaps work in a Deaf School.

I’ve been written up by so many different deaf websites and I thought it might be nice to list some here so you can learn about them. Please click on each one and it will take you right to the articles.

Sharon Pajka’s Blog – a professor at Gallaudet
able2uk
DeafNetwork
Michael Thal Review

Keeping Busy during the Pandemic

Hi everyone,
It’s been so very long since I posted. I don’t know about you, but when the world seemed to close up in March, it was as if a part of my brain closed off, too. It seemed all I could do was try to keep my family safe and happy, keep my job from combusting, and simply put one foot in front of the other.

Open Water Swimming

As the weeks went by, my kids came home from college and online classes began, I told myself I needed to set some goals, get active and keep myself busy. I had to get back to life. So, I decided I was going to finish THE JOURNEY BACK, Book #6 in the Kelsey Porter series, train for triathlon races as if they were still happening, and lose 20 lbs. Ok, I know I don’t quite need to lose that much weight, but some of the Pandemic carb load would have been nice to take off.

While I didn’t lose 20 lbs, I did lose 6, which allowed me BACK into a pair of jeans I’ve not worn in quite some time, I published THE JOURNEY BACK to great fanfare and I started Open Water Swimming at the local beach (on the bay side, not the ocean – no sharks for me!). (all social distancing in effect) In fact, this very weekend I swam my first one mile mock race in under 40 minutes. And it was raining. And there were waves going over my head. I won’t lie, I’d been scared to do that race, but I did it. The nice part was there were kayakers and paddleboarders watching us, so I felt relatively safe. I’m a “face my fears” type of person for sure. Next? A 10K run… we shall see!

Now, for those who have read the first 5 books in the Kelsey Porter thriller series, THE JOURNEY BACK will allow you a peek into Kelsey’s teen years. If you are invested in this character, I guarantee you that you will enjoy this. But, trust me – don’t read this until you’ve read the first 5 books. Too many spoilers.

I’ll start posting more, I promise. So tell me, what have you been doing this summer to keep busy? I’d love to hear.

Working from the Gym (and I don’t mean exercise)

This is the amazing cafe where I get breakfast, smoothies or lunch. Outlets at the big long tables.

So, I have a job where I have the opportunity to work from home and then commute to clients when I have meetings. It’s a great set up. My attic has been transformed to an office with a desk, printer, filing cabinets, a great ergonomic chair, laptop table, a couch… you get the idea. The only thing it doesn’t have is the ability to escape completely from other people if they happen to be in my house as well.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my family, but as the “mom,” it’s too easy at times to look for me… “can you help me find this? Can you make me something to eat? Can you take me somewhere?” The list goes on and on and yes, while I can stop what I’m doing, I find it very distracting.

One of the private manager’s offices they’ve let me use if no one is there.

So, I searched for an office space and found my local gym has ample room! It’s called Lifetime Fitness and it’s been really great so far. They have a fantastic wi-fi, a huge cafe, a conference room that when no one is in I can use. They’ve even let me use their private offices when I’ve had a conference call. I simply pack up my laptop bag with all my power cords, notebooks and head to the gym and work! I even squeeze a class in now and again.

It’s funny. I thought I’d be the only one working, but it’s hardly the case. A few days ago, a guy was walking around the lobby in the gym with his tank top and workout shorts, pacing and speaking on his headset having a conference call. Another time I was in the conference room and another guy asked if he could use the table next to me and it was like a “We Works” situation! Last week all of the conference rooms were being used and there were just too many little kids in the cafe, so I hunkered down in the empty cycle room. Literally sat on the floor and had a nice conference call and did a proposal for over an hour.

Besides helping me with my job at times, this gym is so amazing. They have a few swimming pools, I take cycle and yoga classes all the time and I even did my first indoor triathlon with them.

One of the salespeople there told me the new Lifetime gyms are actually putting in business centers for people like me. I sure hope they do that here. Not sure how, but it would be fantastic.

Not that working from the outside pool is such a bad thing… Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?