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Sorry for the Absence…

backSorry for the little vacation I took from my blog. This might seem like a bit of a lame excuse, but WordPress changed the layout on me and for months I could not figure out how to create a post without causing me some stress. I wanted the original layout that I had been using. Normally when I get stumped by technology, I set out to conquer the challenge and find the answer. I tweeted wordpress for help, emailed their helpline and nothing, so instead, I took a little break. I had other things to do, nothing was ready to be published or promoted and my day job was keeping me super busy. But today, after playing around, I found the original appearance and so I jumped on it to say hello to everyone.

But, I have not been idle all this time! I have completed Book #3 in the Kelsey Porter Series. I’m so excited and I really think people will enjoy it. (my two beta readers have told me it’s the best in the series!) I was going to release it myself, but I have to wait just a bit more time… you see the first two books in the series are sitting right now at a publishing house with an editor for consideration. If she does pick them up, book #3 will be hers first. I know it’s a huge long shot, but I’ve always had a dream to have a big house represent my novels, so I’m going into this “cautiously optimistic” and if they don’t want the book, then I’ll publish it myself. I’ll know the answer most likely within the next month.

So let me tell you a bit about it and give you a sneak peek at the cover designed by Laura LaRoche! THE CALL OF MOUNT SUMERU FINAL

Book #3 is titled THE CALL OF MOUNT SUMERU

Behind every myth and legend… is a measure of truth.

On the heels of THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB, Kelsey Porter returns to NYC with her world turned upside down. Her brother has turned on her, her boyfriend is missing, and she’s left with a mysterious manuscript no one can decipher. It’s not until she goes searching for the elusive legend of Bigfoot at a Buddhist Monastery in Alaska that she finds herself, yet again, thrust into situations that seemingly are beyond her control. Why are children suddenly missing across the Pacific Northwest? Where did Desmond disappear to? And, are these mysterious creatures in the woods really Yetis? It’s these questions she pursues and they bring her full circle back to Buddhist spiritual mysteries, and this time it’s not her life that hangs in the balance, but the lives of an entire civilization.

If you’d like to purchase the first two novels in the series, feel free to click here:

THE HUNT FOR XANADU
AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1CEvEab
UK Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Cp2awz

Book #2 THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB
US AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1EvXExO
UK AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1JSRNqT

How The Aloysius Pendergast Series Influenced a Group of Fans

THE HUNT FOR XANADU Doug Cover

Updated Cover with Doug’s Review!

It’s no secret that I’m a Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child fan – and to be more specific, a fan of the Aloysius Pendergast series. I’m such a fan, that on Facebook I’m part of a group where I get to discuss the minutia of the series with people I hold in high regard. They’ve proven to be intelligent, insightful… and creative. So creative, that I wanted to showcase some of the work of these amazing people, all who have been influenced, and inspired, by the series.

You see, Douglas and Lincoln influenced my writing of my Kelsey Porter books. Four years ago I decided to write a series of novels that I thought the authors would personally enjoy. I wanted them to be smart, to have required a lot of research, and to be steeped in Buddhist spiritual mysteries. Four years later, Douglas read book #1 and wrote this amazing review:

The Hunt for Xanadu by Elyse Salpeter is a remarkable novel, a fascinating and fantastical journey in time and space, and one of the most gripping novels I’ve read in a long time. It flies along at the pace of a thriller, with plenty of murder and mayhem along the way. But behind the thrill-ride is a spiritual story, an archetypal tale of mystery and darkness, riddled with fascinating and esoteric concepts in Tibetan Buddhism. Vivid characters, a truly appealing protagonist, unexpected twists, and crisp writing complete this unforgettable book. I can’t wait to read the next one in the series!”

–Douglas Preston, #1 bestselling author and co-creator, with Lincoln Child, of the Pendergast series

The Bad Habit Coloring BookPretty darn great, right? Well, today I’m going to showcase two more Pendergast fans who have also received glowing reviews from the authors for their creative efforts. Tiffany Stafford created an incredible coloring book of the series.  It’s called “The Bad Habit Coloring Book.” She has drawn images directly from the series and it’s a must for anyone who is a fan. There is one of Aloysius in a Hawaiian shirt that I just absolutely adore!

beyond riversideAnother fan, Chris Royal, created “Beyond Riverside Drive: A Companion Cookbook, and it’s a compilation of all the foods that are discussed in the series. The authors are huge foodies and Chris left nothing out, from “Dried Beef, Fish Lip Soup, Hare Pate to Track Rabbit.”  Not to mention he is an amazing artist and produced renditions throughout the cookbook. I’ve
already made a few recipes from the cookbook and I feel like I’m “eating along with the main character!”

Both Tiffany and Chris received shout-outs on Douglas Preston and
Lincoln Child’s fan page
on Facebook. They are worth checking out if you, or anyone you know, loves the Aloysius Pendergast Series and “needs a little something” until their next novel comes out.

Purchase THE HUNT FOR XANADU here

Purchase THE BAD HABIT COLORING BOOK here

Purchase BEYOND RIVERSIDE DRIVE here

Has an author every influenced you in your creative efforts? Has a book ever inspired you so greatly that you had no choice but to create something from it to share with others? I’d love to hear!

 

 

 

A Review of THE HUNT FOR XANADU by Douglas Preston

THE HUNT FOR XANADU Doug Cover“The Hunt for Xanadu by Elyse Salpeter is a remarkable novel, a fascinating and fantastical journey in time and space, and one of the most gripping novels I’ve read in a long time. It flies along at the pace of a thriller, with plenty of murder and mayhem along the way. But behind the thrill-ride is a spiritual story, an archetypal tale of mystery and darkness, riddled with fascinating and esoteric concepts in Tibetan Buddhism. Vivid characters, a truly appealing protagonist, unexpected twists, and crisp writing complete this unforgettable book. I can’t wait to read the next one in the series!”

–Douglas Preston, #1 bestselling author and co-creator, with Lincoln Child, of the Pendergast series

My journey: I have been a fan of the Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child Aloysius Pendergast books for years. That series embodies to me what I wanted to create as a writer. Well thought out, unique characters that stick with you, emotional situations that are both believable, yet fantastical, and something that was smart, well written and where I think I learn something new with each book.

So, I embarked on my Kelsey Porter series with the mindset that I would “write a book that Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child would enjoy reading.” I used them as my bar for this series of books.

I’m on their fan page, I interact, I’ve gone to all the NY signings and in the meantime, just kept writing my books. Well, four years later, I got up the guts to see if Douglas would ever consider reading my novel since it is in the vein he writes. This author is so incredibly busy and accomplished, I frankly don’t even know when he eats, so this endeavor made me steel my heart for any response. Well, we chatted back and forth about the book, it was indeed up his alley, he suggested I send it, he did read it and above is the result!

My journey with this series began with the goal to write a book he’d enjoy…. mission complete.

If you’re interested in checking the series out for yourself, the novels are The Hunt for Xanadu, The Quest of the Empty Tomb and now Book #3, The Search for the Yeti’s, is presently with my editor. My hope is to get it out early 2016.

If you’d like to purchase the first two novels in the series, feel free to click here:

THE HUNT FOR XANADU
AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1CEvEab
UK Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Cp2awz

Book #2 THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB
US AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1EvXExO
UK AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1JSRNqT

Reach for your dreams, folks… the universe may very well answer.

All Reviews Need to Be Taken With a Grain of Salt

reviewsI’ve been disturbed recently reading reviews on the internet across a myriad of topics. The three biggest offenders for me are reviews on books, reviews on over the counter products and reviews on recipes. These reviews are put up on the web where the anonymity of the internet allows consumers to post how they feel about a product, whether or not that person is even credible. Many times they are not.

One Star Book Reviews: Most of the time if you see someone post a one star review they are either a troll (a person out to simply be vindictive to that author, or they just want to make a nasty statement to hurt someone). Why do I say this? Because if you READ the review, you’ll realize the reader many times NEVER even read the book, didn’t go more than two pages, reviews another book and mixed them up, or is upset that they thought they bought a romance and got a thriller. I kid you not. I’ve seen people give one star reviews because they bought a book in the wrong genre and are blaming the author. I saw another person give a book a one star review because they bought Book #5 or #6 in an epic series and were upset they didn’t know the history of the series because they never purchased the other previous novels.

Now, I’m not saying people aren’t entitled to say they hated a book, but make sure the review is solid. Is it poorly written? Filled with grammatical errors? Did they not like the plot or heroine? If there is a solid reason for that one star, okay, if not move on.

One Star on OTC (over the counter products like aspirin, laxatives, allergy meds, etc): I saw this yesterday all over amazon. People giving reviews for medications. The big thing I noticed is that most people claiming one star reviews over-medicated themselves each and every time and were trashing the products for the side effects. One medication said take 1-3 pills with lots of water. (and to START with one) These people went right ahead and claimed they took three pills and were upset they got very bad side effects like their insides were about to explode. Even when the packaging said that you should start with one, but you CAN take up to three if your symptoms keep persisting. I saw one star after one star review, all of these people took too much medication and then blamed the product. Others already have problems where they shouldn’t even take this product in the first place, others didn’t drink enough water, milk, food, with the medications and blamed the product. It’s odd to me that people will feel this need to post in this fashion. Where is their own responsibility in this? People must be participatory in their own healthcare issues. Be smart.

One star recipe reviews. I’m a cook, so I read reviews on recipes all the time. I know enough about cooking to be able to look at a recipe and adjust it if I need to, but when I see a one star review for something and the person didn’t have half of the ingredients in the recipe and instead substituted and THEN writes a one star review that says “this wasn’t tasty at all,” well, I have zero sympathy. I didn’t have sugar, so I used X, and I didn’t have nuts, so I used X and I didn’t have wine so I used X. How in the world can you write a bad review of a recipe if you didn’t use the ingredients listed or follow the directions?

Some of my favorite one star comments:

The meat was tough, but I didn’t have enough time to cook it for the instructed 5-6 hours, so I just upped the temperature on the stove. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

I didn’t have tomatoes so I used bell peppers instead. (gee, are we magicians that we can turn bell peppers into a decadent tomato sauce without tomatoes?)

I know the recipe called for fennel, but it was too fennel-y for me. And I also don’t like fennel in the first place.

The thing is, think before you review something. People look at reviews, but we are starting to be smart enough to realize some of our reviewers are not credible. If you haven’t even purchased or read more than a page of a book, and slam it, well, you have no credibility. If you slam a product because you didn’t take the correct dosing and overmedicated yourself and now have side effects, that’s your problem. If you do a recipe and substitute ingredients and are upset with the end result, that is again your problem.

I think people just don’t like to follow directions. They want to beat to their own drum and get upset when things don’t go their way. Accountability folks.

What’s the Fascination with Twins?

holding handsI admit it. I am fascinated with twins. Fraternal, identical, boy/girl – it doesn’t matter. When I was a little girl, I used to draw crayon filled drawings of what my family would be like when I got older, and they were filled with twins, triplets, and octuplets. I’d have a family of forty kids and two very happy looking parents smack dab in the middle, with their brood surrounding them. Now, thirty years later, I actually have a set of twins and I’ll tell you what? Two is just fine, thank you very much! LOL.

But twins still fascinate me, as they do society as a whole. Is there a special bond? Do they get along? What is it like to have one? My twins are as different as possible. One is sporty, the other is into computer coding, one will eat sushi and one won’t let anything but pizza and nuggets pass his lips. One’s a boy, one’s a girl.

But what about other twins? The famous ones we hear about? Tiki and Ronde Barber were football players (and one was a Giant – yeah!!!) and were so competitive. They are both now authors themselves who write books about being football players. Then there’s Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen who were child actors and who have now built a fashion empire together. And my idols, Abigail and Brittany Hensel. Want to talk about cooperation? They are conjoined twins who share one body and when I think about how much those girls have had to work together and cooperate in order to do practically anything, I realize that all of us can look to them on how to act on a daily basis. Check here for Abby & Brittany’s show on TLC to learn more about them.

But what if all twins didn’t get along? What if they hated each other with a passion? I wanted to explore that in my dark fantasy novels, THE WORLD OF KAROV and THE RUBY AMULET. Both books include twins and both books take that complicated relationship and flip them on their heads.

I have a third book in the series and guess what? Twins are in this too. Here’s the beginning of a flash fiction tale that will give you a little “taste” for this particular novel. It’s going to have a high fantasy feel and will eventually be a pre-cursor to both novels: (Here’s only half of it – the rest is just a click away!)

ARPAGIUS’S WORLD

The sphere was so small in the palm of my hand. All that vast blue with hints of greens and browns and soft white swirls covering it.

I felt a gentle hand upon my shoulder. “You must take care of it, son, for it’s fragile.

I glanced up at my father. “Is this one alive?”

He nodded. “Yes, very much so. Not like the ones you played with as a young child, Arpagius.”

I remembered those worlds. Those lovely marbles of brown and black; some as light as a dove’s feather, some as heavy as a block of granite; but all ice-cold.

I stared back at my world. It was nearly hot in my hand and I watched as new fluffy white masses formed across the greatest stretch of blue. I gently blew on them. The clouds scattered where my breath hit them. I glanced back at my father.

“Arpagius, how you treat this world will determine your place with our kind. Will you be a leader, a god to these small beings? Or, will you fall, to remain a servant of the land, never to achieve your full status? Only you can decide this. It’s an important decision for one of only nine years old, but it must be done and this is the only way for us to know your true character. I trust you’ll make the right choice and not fall by the way of your brother.” My father turned, and with a spread of his wings, flew out the window. I watched him soar over the turrets of the castle and move northward, until he was but a black speck in the sky.

I turned back to my world as black clouds formed across the oceans. “I will do my best, Father,” I whispered.

Want receive the rest of the story? Just shoot me a note here and say “I want the end of the short story!” http://www.elysesalpeter.com and choose CONTACT ME. Or click here: http://www.elysesalpeter.com/contact-me.html

Just ask and you shall receive. (even if you’re already on my contact list)

Want to read THE WORLD OF KAROV? Click here on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1tpVy9h
Want to read THE RUBY AMULET? Click here on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1vHLgVJ

The fact is, I find twins are occupying so much of my thoughts that I have been putting them in nearly all my series in one capacity of the other. I didn’t realize that until very recently when I decided to publish a horror tale for Halloween – and yep, there are twins in that, too. So, Happy Twinning!

Why Book Signings Should be a Part of Your Marketing Plan

At The Dolphin Bookshop

At The Dolphin Bookshop

I thought every author wanted to do a book signing, but I’ve found this is not the case. Actually, it seems to be a contentious subject, with pros and cons of why authors do, or don’t, do live events.

I recently had the opportunity to put together a multi-authored signing at The Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington, NY. When I put this event together, I asked a few local authors if they wanted to participate with me. I thought their answers would immediately be an emphatic “YES.” I was shocked at some of the responses. One person told me that doing a signing wasn’t “worth their time” because “they can make more money and reach more people online.” Another person told me that “the time and investment to do a signing, to make no money, is a waste of time.” Another author told me he no longer does any live events because he can reach more people other ways and “why does he want to actually speak to people?”

I have to vehemently disagree here. Yes, you can reach more people with online efforts, but a book signing is NOT for sales. It’s for exposure, for respectability, and for practice. While authors live in their minds and type stories into their computers, they need to be able to verbally discuss their novels. You have to be able to talk to people to pitch it to them, to explain it, to paint a picture as to why they should buy your book. What if you’re one day in a room with a top editor and you’ve never actually had the chance to publicly discuss your book? A signing allows you the opportunity to engage active readers in a whole different capacity. Sometimes you get a chance to do a reading, like we did, and if you pick the right segment, you can influence potential readers on a whole new level. This practice is a wonderful learning experience and one you should consider doing a few times a year.

I also believe book signings offer authors a “perception of success.” Meaning, you take photos of you and your readers and you post them to social media. You do the reading and tape it and post it to your author or Pinterest page. You get press to cover you. All of these together will show people in the industry that you are capable of successfully being in front of an audience. That you’re “a player, professional, and capable.” If an agent, publisher or producer ever wants to contact you, they will see all this “success” and exposure you’ve built up.

Maybe authors are afraid if they do a signing no one will come? That could happen. I did a signing with 18 other authors at a four hour Book Fair a few weeks ago and it would be safe to say 15 of us didn’t have any sales. ZERO. I had candy out and the people visiting my table were mostly other authors during this very long event who came over to snack on my Dove Chocolates (yes, get the good stuff). So, even though I had no sales, what did I get out of it? The experience of putting my table together, some great photos, a few sign ups for my newsletter and I got to pitch my book and network with other authors.

I once had an author talk at a library and only three teenagers came. I ended up moving all the chairs into a circle and the four of us, with the coordinator, sat down and we had a real heart-to-heart about publishing. It was casual and intimate and I’ll tell you something – even though I didn’t sell any books, I got a lot out of it. I got the experience to chat about my novels, educate the kids on publishing and possibly influence a young mind.

I leave you with this: GET OUT IN THE FIELD. Do a signing, do a library chat. Get that poster made, get in front of people. Talk. Don’t just write. Tell readers about your wonderful ideas. I promise you that you will get more out of this versus an online ad that will give you just a few extra book sales.

I’ve been told by a well known author in the industry that this is my “hazing” time. Well, folks, consider me duly hazed.

Facebook – Some Additional Ideas to Improve Your Experience Part 2

Last week’s blog post about Getting Around Facebook’s Algorithms really seemed to help people. The most important thing to take away from that conversation was “engagement.” Like, comment, interact with people on Facebook. Don’t just smile and move on. If you see something you like, engage with it and you’ll pop up more on algorithms and start seeing more of the things you want to see.

Now, some other ways to help:

Problem: Why does it take hours for me to see my good friend’s post?
Solution: This could be because you’ve selected Top Stories versus Most Recent on your news feed. In the top left of your screen (on a PC) You will see a running list of options: Under your profile/name, it will say News Feed. To the right of that you will see a little arrow. Click on the downward arrow and see if you’ve selected either Top Stories, or Most Recent. Top stories will mean you will get served more posts that OTHER people have liked and commented on. FB thinks these are “top/important” stories and will give you those. If you wish to see things a little closer to live time, hit recent stories.

Issue, some friends say that they do hit recent stories, yet their friends and family still don’t see their posts often. Well guess what? Per my “inside friends who work with Facebook” it could be two things. A) Your friends also need to click recent stories as well as a selection. b) If you are not signed on, and occasionally sign in and out, that affects the algorithm timing as when things will pop up. It won’t just automatically do it – you’re in a queue (line) so to speak.

One note of caution, sometimes FB will switch your selection from Most Recent back to Top Stories. I don’t know why, and it’s happened to a few people I know, and myself, so every now and then just check.

Problem: Why do some Author Posts get more hits than others?
Solution: Well, that depends. Last week we discussed why only a small % of our fans see our pages. That they must engage with our content in order to get served our posts more, and thus, why we need to boost our posts occasionally. I have another solution. Authors, go to your Fan page. On the top are bars and click on “See Insights.” Then scroll down and look at your last 5 posts. You can see the type of engagement you had for specific posts. Did you put in a link? Did you put in a picture? You can see the TYPE of activity your fans did. Did they like it? Did they comment? Did they share it? See below for an example. As you can see, when I boosted my post (in this case I targeted just my fans and their friends), you can see how many more people engaged and commented and the reach.

fbstats

I would suggest you try a few things… Don’t inundate your fans and space this up since you don’t want to be spammy, but how about post 2 covers and ask your fans which ones they like better? Another post, put in a blurb and link to your book, another post just do a regular post with no links or photos. Then do another one with just information about the book BUT now put the link in the comments section. Then, finally, boost a post. Then go back and look at this analysis page and see what worked and what got the most engagement. You’ll be surprised. I’ve found that most people will respond better to a photo and a question, then to a book link.

Not to mention, Facebook seems to despise links to our books. For some reason I get much less awareness by FB to my fans when I do a link, versus do a photo. Facebook really doesn’t want authors to post links and drive people AWAY from the Facebook experience (hence, I suggest putting the link in the comments section).

So, try these two tips out and see if they work! Love to hear some other ideas from everyone as well.