Tag Archive | buddhism

My Journey to Writing a Thriller Series

The Kelsey Porter Series

Ten years ago I set out on a journey to swallow my fears and publish my novels. After launching my quirky YA and fantasy books to some modest success, I decided I wanted to push myself and develop a new adult thriller series. But, I used my favorite authors, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, as my bar. Why? Because their books move me in ways other novels don’t. It takes a great writer to make me obsess about a character, and this series puts me squarely in the camp of my obsession with Aloysius Pendergast. Now, these authors also write novels on their own, but together, their Pendergast series is simply amazing. The novels are smart, savvy, with well-developed characters you want to love… and despise. I’m intrigued that they purposely add complicated words so that people will have to look up their meaning. I asked Douglas about this at a signing I went to of his and he said that it’s a conscious decision. They want readers to learn as they read their books and you can tell that everything they do, and every plot line, is researched meticulously.

Well, I wanted to develop a series like that, and one I thought they personally might enjoy. My goal was to hit on something different from what was in the field. Something spiritual, smart, singularly unique, and something that required a ton of research. While I’m no Preston/Child, I’m proud of myself. Four books into this series and I’m excited to say these authors DID like it. Douglas Preston actually read and reviewed Book #1 and it’s a great review you can read in “editorial reviews” for The Hunt For Xanadu on Amazon. Here it is here:

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

So now there are four books in the series, they all have a Buddhist thriller flare, and they take you across the globe, from New York City and Colombia, to Alaska, Egypt and the monasteries of Tibet.

If you’d like to check them out, please click here to my author page on Amazon!

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When Your Teenage Son Reads Your Novel… and Critiques!

I have a fourteen year old son. He normally does not read fiction, and prefers non-fiction history books, or anything he sees on the internet, versus picking up a book. Fantasy and supernatural are not topics he likes, because “they are not real life.”

Book # 1 in the series

Book # 1 in the series

So, when he said he wanted to read Book #1 in my Kelsey Porter series, well, I was concerned. First, it’s a bit of a sexy theme and there’s violence. My son really despises “the sexuality of America.” The Kardashians and Miley Cyrus’s of the world confuse him. So I wasn’t sure how he’d like this novel. But, he said that he’d like to “see what it is that I’ve been doing all this time and was interested in the historical Buddhist aspects of these thrillers.”

So, I agreed to let him read it, as long as we discuss it chapter by chapter. So, that’s what we’ve been doing and it’s so nerve-racking I can’t tell you. He goes to his room, reads a chapter and then comes in and says “Ok, I’m ready to give you my synopsis of what happened in that chapter and then my critique.” Oh, did I mention he gives my book an overall rating at the end of this discussion, using the 5.0 scale and that I fluctuate on this scale based on how he felt about the chapter? Yes, that’s what I mean about nerve-racking.

To give a little background, these books are about Kelsey Porter, a young, beautiful woman who is on the hunt for her parents’ killers, who were murdered on their quest to find the mystical land of Xanadu. The series is steeped in Buddhist spiritual mysteries, all based on real lore, but I do twist the facts at times for my book’s needs.

This is my view of Kelsey Porter. My son is on the fence about this.

This is my view of Kelsey Porter. My son is on the fence about this.

I would say that he’s understood 90% of what he’s read, so I will correct or explain some things that were confusing. I have been ordered not to explain too much, lest I give away spoilers. So far he has said “it’s very well written and some of the chapters are really interesting.” When that happens, my rating is usually at a 4.5, or some moments the coveted 5.0. Of course, there have been moments that I’ve been demoted to a 4.0 for “excessive use of flashbacks, expositional prose (I didn’t even know what that meant at the time) and making my boy characters too cliché.” I, of course, ask for explanation.

You see, Kelsey is a very sexual being, without being loose, but because of who she is, there’s this undercurrent where people are drawn to her. Yes, I make her beautiful with large bosoms, and my son was not impressed with that entire concept, though he’s giving me the benefit of the doubt as I’ve explained it’s a very true point to the plot.

He’s about 60% through and is digging the amount of research I’ve put into this. He says “it shows” and that as a result the book is now sitting at a 4.5 though “Mom, you can’t be upset if you drop points of course.”

Well, of course not. (shhhh… that’s just what I say!).

UH OH: He just came in and told me he didn’t like a chapter for the first time. He said, “the content was fine but it was too generic and scripted.” I had to ask what he meant. He said “it felt like you made the villain too stereotypical and were throwing around difficult concepts like astral projection too casually.” (wow, I actually thought this was a great, pivotal chapter in the book) My ranking strangely did not drop, though he had to think about it for some time to come to that decision.

Fingers crossed for the rest of the book as the threads are all starting to come together and he’s going to be delving into territory that is not a normal read for him. By the way, did I mention he found a spelling error? I spelled locales, “locals,” and I capitalized something that shouldn’t have been. Sigh… thankfully my rating did not drop because of that, either.

Want to read along with him? Here’s the link to all three books in the series! Enjoy!

Book #1 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

Book #3 THE CALL OF MOUNT SUMERU
US AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1SUskAv
UK AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1nPF6TO

Kelsey Porter thriller series

Kelsey Porter thriller series

The Launch of Book #3 in the Kelsey Porter Series: The Call of Mount Sumeru

THE CALL OF MOUNT SUMERU FINALThat’s right folks! Kelsey Porter is back with a vengeance and Book #3 has officially launched!

Kelsey Porter returns to NYC with her world turned upside down. Her brother has betrayed 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 are seemingly beyond her control. Why are children suddenly missing across the Pacific Northwest? Where is Desmond? 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.

This has been a huge labor of love and so many people have told me how much they’ve enjoyed the novels. Please feel free to grab your copy. I am doing an EARLY BIRD SPECIAL for BOOK #3 for JUST $0.99 for this week, so please enjoy!

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

Here’s a review for Book #1 from the esteemed author Douglas Preston!

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

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

Book #3 THE CALL OF MOUNT SUMERU
US AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1SUskAv
UK AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1nPF6TO

FB cover series

And if you have read any of these novels, would you be so kind as to leave an honest review? Good or bad. It would be so appreciated. I’d love to hear what you think. Thank you all so much!

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!

First Chapter of THE HUNT FOR XANADU

THE HUNT FOR XANADU Final CoverI’ve decided that it might be fun to post first chapters of fantasy books, flash fiction, or even poetry on this blog for the next two months. It will give everyone a taste of my writing, along with some other fine authors, and offer some fun “reading escape” time. So, without further ado, if you’re interested in a brand new contemporary fantasy thriller series, with a super new heroine, I give you Chapter #1 of THE HUNT FOR XANADU. This is not the chapter where you will find the fantasy, but the thrill, and will give you the flavor of the novel. Enjoy!

THE HUNT FOR XANADU
Chapter 1

Present Day

Hidden in the security camera’s blind spot, she sucked in her gut, closed her eyes and listened intently. “Come on, already,” she thought, drumming her fingertips rapidly against the brick wall. She heard the dogs panting now. This sound had replaced the earlier frenzy of them tearing into the drugged raw hamburger she had thrown over the fence just twenty minutes before. She’d crushed thirty-six Acepromozin tablets into the ground meat, reckoning it would enough to knock out the four guard dogs, if not kill them outright.

She glanced at her watch and waited. This is taking so long. Five more minutes passed, with nothing sounding except the soft, rotating click of the camera. Abruptly, she yanked down the protective goggles resting on her head and placed them over her eyes. The clicking now echoed loudly, indicating the camera was once more faced in her direction. Brazenly she stood, aimed her laser gun and pointed it directly into the lens. The high tech, silicon-based CCD camera had an impressive wavelength sensitivity. The laser’s high-powered emitter instantly saturated the pixels of the camera’s CCD sensor and burned the chip out instantly.

Ricardo Perez thought he protected himself with the best of everything. He’d under-estimated meeting an assassin so invested in seeing him dead.

Hooking the laser into her belt loop, she flung her knapsack over her shoulders and scaled the wall in a practiced leap. She balanced delicately on the edge to prevent being punctured by the barbed wire and slipped on a pair of leather gloves, grabbed the wire cutters hanging from her backpack and snipped her way through. In less than twenty seconds, she was inside the backyard of the compound. Three of the dogs lay unconscious in the grass nearby, but their twitching feet told her they were still alive. Where is the other one?

A deep, menacing growl came from behind her and she whirled to face the remaining Doberman. She had just enough time to register the bits of bloody hamburger still clinging to its snout before it lunged. Her instincts kicked in and she did the only thing she could remember. She punched the animal savagely in its throat like she’d been taught, and it fell to the ground, dead.

Breathing hard, she turned back to the house where Ricardo had hoped to escape from her. Her body shook and she took a deep breath, trying to keep her anger in check. This man couldn’t expect to destroy her family and get away with it. He was going to pay.

She moved past the koi pond, stopping only to disable the second security camera with her laser.
She passed the kidney-shaped pool and skirted around the cabana, her eyes never leaving the house. Shadows moved behind the curtained windows on the second floor. At the sound of a sliding door opening, she dove behind a hedge. A well-muscled guard moved onto the balcony and lit a cigarillo. Its smell traveled to her in the gentle breeze. She held back a cough and brushed a wayward blond strand out of her face.

The guard scanned the perimeters, then took out his cell phone and sat back on a lounge chair to make a call. Sweet nothings floated down to her and she took that moment to leap across the hedge and race to the side of the house, hiding herself in the back door portico. She edged around the building until she located the final camera attached to the roof above a spare bedroom. Too far for her laser’s range.

She waited until the camera scanned another part of the property and then got to work. She pulled out a long rope from her backpack which she attached to a grappling hook. With a precision borne from hours upon hours of practice, she tossed up the hook and snagged the end over the bedroom’s balcony railing. With a jerk, the rope pulled taut and the hook locked in place. Fifteen seconds later she was standing on the terrace.

The clicking camera indicated it was again in range. She leaned around the corner of the wall, aimed her laser and disabled it.

She left her bag and goggles on the terrace and moved to the sliding door leading into the bedroom. It was locked, which wasn’t a surprise. The girl leaned her head against the glass, her breath fogging the window, and noticed there was no security bar holding it shut. That was a mistake, Ricardo. She removed a set of lock picks from her pack and sixty seconds later broke in.

The house was quiet. With infinite care, she made her way across the room to the bedroom door. She cracked it open, pulling her pistol and stun gun from their holsters. She already knew the layout of the house from her research. There were four bedrooms and two bathrooms on the second floor with a wide hallway opening over the front foyer downstairs. The plush, cream-colored wall-to-wall carpeting, that stretched through every room, was an added benefit. Now she wouldn’t have to worry about her footsteps making any noise. The lighting was good, too. An enormous, glittering chandelier hung from the foyer ceiling and lit the entire area with a yellow glow. She peered into Ricardo’s bedroom and heard him speak to one of his guards. The sound of his voice made goosebumps on her arms.

“Pablo, go get us a couple of beers.”

The guard came out of the bedroom and as he passed her room, she jumped on him and released the stun gun. He barely had time to cry out before she hit him violently in the side of his head with the butt of her gun, silencing him. He fell unconscious to the floor. With great effort, she dragged him by his feet into the bedroom. Thankfully, he wasn’t as large as the first guard she had seen or it would have been much harder. In less than a minute, he was trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey.

She moved quickly down the hall towards Ricardo’s room, her pistol in one hand, the stun gun in the other.
She peeked inside. Ricardo had moved to the balcony.

What happened next came down fast.

“The dogs are too quiet,” the remaining bodyguard said. A whistle sounded and when none of the Dobermans responded, she could distinctly hear him click his gun’s safety. “The cameras are dark, too. Ricardo, stay here.”

The guard moved across the room and out into the hallway, shocked to see her simply standing there. With a startled shout, he fired at her, but she feinted to the right and fired back. Her heel slipped slightly on the carpet and messed up her aim. She hit him in his hip, rather than his chest. Dammit to hell.

The guard fell to the floor with a yell, but fired again, the bullet ricocheting off the wall behind her. She took that moment to pounce upon him, kneeing him fiercely in his groin. He tried to hit her with the butt of his gun and she delivered a brutal elbow strike to his cheek, shattering it. He shrieked, bringing his gun up again. She shoved the stun gun in his side and fired the full voltage.

A bullet whisked by her head, shattering the picture frame on the wall next to her. She flinched and glimpsed Ricardo shooting wildly from behind the door. Their gazes met and fear filled his eyes. With a squeal, he ran back into his bedroom and disappeared from view.

Her adrenaline pumped through her veins and his fear spurred her on. Run and hide, you coward. With a savage smile, she raced after him.

The hunt was on.

If you’re interested in purchasing the entire novel, it is available on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/1ixAnkP

Book Trailer for THE HUNT FOR XANADU … launching Dec 20th!

The Hunt for XanaduWe are nearing the December 20th launch for THE HUNT FOR XANADU. So excited to present my book trailer, made for me by the very talented Laura LaRoche from LLPix Photography/BZ Hercules.

“A girl, the Buddhist devil and a mystical world, tying them all together in ways unimaginable…”

Want to chat about THE HUNT FOR XANADU on Twitter? Include this hashtag in your tweet and I’ll respond: #huntforxanadu

You can also reach me on twitter at @elysesalpeter

Lastly, feel free to come on over to my newly revamped web page at http://www.elysesalpeter.com (still a work in progress but I’m learning) and follow me on FB at http://www.facebook.com/elysesalpeterauthor for updates.

Love to hear what you think of the trailer… exciting? Spooky? First impressions? Thanks so much!

Why I Need an Editor, Part 3

bali_gold_buddhaI’m finishing up the final touches on my WIP and I’m left with a few final thoughts from my editor. Let’s talk “engagement.” The last thing an author wants to do is “lurch a reader out of the story” because we’ve done something keenly wrong, like switch up the POV, spelling errors … or… the worst… inconsistencies. We don’t want our readers to suddenly stop and have to figure out what we mean and why something doesn’t make sense. We want to keep them engaged in the tale, continously reading and not “startling them” by including things that don’t have relevance to the story.

My book is about a girl avenging the deaths of her parents who were on a quest to find the mystical land of Xanadu. It’s an international thriller, has deep Buddhist elements to it and I’ve interweaved a fantastical aspect. But, apparently there are levels of fantasy and we must remember that no matter what fantastical elements we add, they must be written within the confines of the story. NOTE from my Editor (which I’ve “edited” myself to not give away any spoilers):

Denise/Editor: “Elyse, I’ve been sitting here for three days trying to figure out why when I start reading your “Fantasy” sections, I’m lurched out of the story. I think I’ve figured it out. You have this whole dark, Tibetan/Indian/Far East thriller going on with lots about Buddha and living in these exotic locales. But when I read about “your fantasy land” I feel like I just walked onto the set of Lord of the Rings. The fantasy is too high.”

You see, I made up names for crazy little animals, I had castles and glittering cities of diamonds, I had Kings and Queens in these segments. Fact is, this is a Far Eastern thriller, so these segments should have the same flavor as the rest of the novel. Maybe the King and Queen are Emperors and Empresses (they are now), maybe the castle is a monastery fashioned like an imperial palace (it is now), maybe the animals no longer have names like Snowflake and Torch (can we say Ishu and Dorje?)… you see what I mean? Instead of a town hall, the village has thatched huts, the city doesn’t glisten like diamonds, but is rimmed in gold. Add an Asian feel and keep the story consistent.

This is what I need an editor for. She beta reads for me as she edits – and the story is much better for it. For anyone interested, Denise is doing a special until Labor Day. Normally she charges $4 a page, but she’s only charging $2 a page, doublespaced, for your manuscript. Here’s her website: http://www.thomas-talks-to-me.com/editing/index.html