Saturday, August 30, 2014

Flying to the Fire - An Interview with Elyse Salpeter

Today, I'm doing something I don't normally do: (1) Post outside my normal 'Monday' morning for the week, and (2) An interview.

Today, Saturday, August 30th, Elyse Salpeter is doing a special book launch. She is having contests, giveaways and whatnot.  She is not only on my blog, but her blog at where you can learn more about what is happening with the contests and giveaways.

Her latest release is "Flying to the Fire" and I want to focus a little on that and also the author.  So here is some of the questions I tossed at Elyse and she so politely tossed back with an answer ...

1.  Tell me about your book, Flying to the Fire. I realize it is a sequel to "Flying to the Light" which I read and thought it had a wonderful and unique concept for a story with birds and a boy who can see the afterlife.  So what was the inspiration for this story? 

This is actually a funny scenario. I wasn't going to even write a sequel at first. I felt that Book #1 ended in a great way and that there wasn't a sequel in me. But then the publisher I was working with suggested I reconsider and think about where I could take the novel. I decided having Danny only six years old in book #1 really limited his ability to drive the story, so I decided to make him thirteen years old in Book #2 and pick up where he left off with an entirely different tangent that I think readers will enjoy.

2.  Some authors agonize over a character's name. Are the names of characters in your novels important?

No, actually. I will admit to having a problem with this! I tend to like my main characters to have easy names. Maybe it’s because I personally have problems following who is who in books with a lot of characters. I find I make all my main leads have simple or generic names like  Mike, Chris, Sean, Jim. I do this so much that my editor will email me and gently coax me to “please change this character’s name – it’s too similar to your other books and to other characters IN the book!”

3.  Who would you rather write for - children or adults, and why?

I like to do both, even though I feel like my YA novels are still more geared towards adults. My prose is pretty simple so it’s easily read by kids, but I believe my topics are more adult in nature. I also find when write a novel geared strictly towards adults, I don’t have to be so “careful.” Meaning, my language can be a bit more colorful and I can be much freer with romantic relationships and any violence that occurs.

4.  You mentioned violence. Have you ever killed someone in one of your novels and regretted it later?  Details, please.

Yes, I have one dark fantasy novel,that I won’t name because it is a huge spoiler, where I killed a character. I’m not upset personally that the character died because it was how the novel played out. It made perfect sense and set up book #2, but some readers were really mad at me. My aunt actually called me up at work and yelled at me for ten full minutes. In fact, she hasn't read the sequel because she’s too afraid I’ll kill off another beloved character – though I have tried to assure her I have not!

5.  So, which do you find more embarrassing to write -- violence or sex?

Um, er, sex, for sure. I feel like I need to squint when I’m writing it, make sure no one is around and I have to peek at what I write through my fingers as they’re usually covering my face. I’ll tell you a funny story. Years ago, I wrote my first novel with tons of sex in it and sent it to my editor. I was so embarrassed that I actually never read her comments on those parts and just rewrote the entire scene instead. I don’t think to this day she actually knows this and it’s ridiculous because I paid her!

6.  Do you research for your novels - how involved, if so?

Sometimes I research a lot. In FLYING TO THE FIRE I had to study up on different kinds of insects and birds. I also did a lot of research for the series on electromagnetic waves, biochemical issues, and radio and mind waves. I’m terrible at physics -- not only do I quote Ampere’s Law in this book, but I actually have a working knowledge of it!

7.  With all that research, it would seem writer's block is not something you fret about. So, how do you overcome the dreaded writer's block when it does strike?

I simply put what I’m working on down and work on something else. When the muse isn't cooperating, I just let her have her tantrum until she’s ready to start again. There’s no sense in me forcing her – she never listens to me.

8.  Writing Muse?  How did you come to be interested in writing?

I always loved to write, but I wasn't always a good writer. I don’t know if I am a good writer yet, even, which is why I have editors and beta readers. But, I simply have all these story ideas in my head and I simply have to get them out.

9.  Now for something different. Can you tell us a secret about you that nobody knows?

A secret… one I haven’t put in print yet… sigh… this is embarrassing but I’m a huge Twilight fan. Bigger than most people know. I can watch those movies day in and day out and never get bored. They just make me so darn happy and I have no idea why! There, I said it. Go Team Edward!

10.  What are your future plans? What can we expect from you, the author, Elyse Salpeter?

Well, if all goes as planned, I have a horror novel I’m launching on Halloween called THE MANNEQUINS. I also hope to complete book #3 in the FLYING series next year, 2015. The tentative title is FLYING HOME.

11.  I figured you thought you were done by question 10, but I like to shake things up so, final question is: How do you handle yourself when an interview or a book review has gone bad?

LOL – they’re all good. Any exposure is good exposure, right? <wink, wink>

12.  Yeah, like we were finished but I forgot to ask - Is there anything you'd like to share that I didn't cover?

Yes, I love to hear from readers about what they think of the novels. If you’re interested in getting updates or information on special promotions, please feel free to join my enewsletter subscriber list here:

If you'd like to buy this exciting sequel - Flying to the Fire - it is available at: 
Amazon Ebook:

To purchase "Flying to the Light" - go to:

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, August 25, 2014


Edit Note: I usually post on Mondays but on Saturday, August 30th, I will do a special guest post with Elyse Salpeter's and her release of "Flying to the Fire." There will be prizes that day. Don't miss it!  It will be up for all of the following week.

This week I did something I've not been able to do for a couple of years.  

First, the explanation of why it has been so long. My mother-in-law will be 102 next month. She has lived with us for the last three years.  The past two years, she become more wanting to not leave the house. This last year, it became difficult for us to care for her. With a heavy heart, the family - my wife and her siblings - decided to put her in a nursing home. She has been there for a couple of months and is doing very well and enjoys living there.

Continuing with the explanation.  We travel.  We have an RV.  It's a 28-ft wonder I bought used when I retired so we could travel and travel we did.  It had just a little over 9k miles and is now sitting at 58k. The last time out, the three of us - my wife, my mother-in-law and I - were enjoying a trip through Michigan.  We'd just left a campground and I was attempting to cross an interstate, yes, 4 lanes, so I could take a rural road to a lesser used highway.  Anyway, my mother-in-law, aged 99 then, couldn't hear or see well and never seemed to know when the RV was running. My wife was up to get me a drink and Mom decided she would go to the potty. She got up and I didn't notice. There was a clearing in traffic and I lurched across the 4 lanes of interstate.  She tumbled down the aisle, ripping her paper-thin skin on her arm.  My only thought was - Where's the hospital?  We were out in the wilderness, sort of.  I knew there was a town about 20-30 miles down the road, but ...  They (my wife and her) decided it wasn't an emergency and put a large bandage on it with a lot of antiseptic stuff.  They seemed okay and we continued our trip.  The arm healed although it was a very large sore.  Of course, since that incident, her heart in traveling lessened and her leaving the house became a moot point. It was simple, I went out, my wife stayed home OR my wife went out, I stayed home.

Now, about two weeks ago, my wife and I decided we should take the RV and do a maiden voyage to test out the equipment that had lain dormant for over two years.  To make it even more memorable, we'd take our four youngest granddaughters along for the fun.  

Uh, yeah.  Fun.  We took a four year old, a five year old, a nine year old and a twelve year old camping. On an experimental trip, at that.  Fortunately, we only were about 25 miles from home at a state park.

We headed out Wednesday morning.  Shall I say that moment could have been our high point?

There was a 'water' leak which is still under investigation.  So, no water, but we could still use the toilet.  A gallon jug of water on the bathroom cabinet made sure everything flushed down.

We'd taken milk, fresh fruit, pizzas, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, bologna, fresh 'out-of-the garden' corn, tomatoes and beans, butter, chocolate bars and other assorted sundries along which needed refrigeration and freezing.  Bet'cha see where this is going!

Yup.  The refrigerator didn't work.  We questioned it before we left and were hoping it would kick in. It didn't.  We'd taken a cooler along as backup insurance.  Oh, yea!  Wet food.  Ice melts and food seems to sink immediately down into the water.

Yes, we had electric hookup but the refrigerator wouldn't acknowledge there was electricity.  It would acknowledge LP and the freezer section - a smaller upper section with it own door - didn't actually get to where it would freeze food, but kept it 'cool' - just a hop, skip and jump from cold.  Shall I say that the sausage and bacon were to be for breakfast on Thursday and Friday, not Wednesday night supper.

The stove's burners work and we were able to fix the food, like the sausage and bacon and whatever. Almost delightful, one would think.

Now about those pizzas I mentioned earlier.  They weren't frozen ... well, they were, but not for long, anyway. Since they didn't need to "thaw" anymore to bake, the baking time would be faster.  Of course, if the oven had worked, the baking time would have been short.  Unfortunately, the oven didn't work and the baking time didn't come into play.  My ingenious wife 'baked' them in the iron skillet she'd brought along. The all-meat pizza was sacrificed in the learning curve.  I can handle a crispy burn, but ...

The air conditioner worked.  See?  God does smile.

The awning wouldn't release so we couldn't get it open to sit under when the sun was shining.  Fortunately, there was a small tree with almost shade.  The gentleman at the campsite across from us came over to help me with the awning.  Whew!  It wasn't me!  He couldn't get it to release, either and I knew he knew what he was doing - his awning was extended.

I'm an old scout.  I started scouting when I was eight, being a Cub Scout, then a Boy Scout and as an adult, I was an Assistant Scoutmaster, a Scout Master and finally a Commissioner.  I've been around the block.  I made 'bug juice' in the 5 gallon cooler, set it outside for the girls to get their drinks whenever they were thirsty.  Little did I know that 4 young girls would have an aversion to drinking 'bug juice' until I assured them that no bugs were used in the making of the refreshment.  I started with 2 gallons of Tang, when it got low, I added two gallons of fruit punch, then I replenished that mixture with pink lemonade.  This cooler keeps ice forever!  The next morning I added Tang again and followed it up with cherry drink, regular lemonade and finally some more fruit punch.  It is now Sunday night, we're back from the camping trip but the girls are in love with the bug juice and we've just kept adding different flavors including grape, tropical and lime.  Interesting flavor, I might add.

To save our sanity (at least my sanity) there was a playground very near the back of the RV and the girls spent much of their time playing on the different items there.  They made friends with other kids and strangely, even some adults - parents of the other kids.

Friday, we broke camp.  Cleaned up the site, made sure the fire was out and headed home.  

Not exactly the camping trip I wanted, but after two years, it could have been a lot worse.  My wife and I had a great time.  Like I say - A bad day camping is always better than a good day sitting at home.  Most of the fixes should be easy - as I tell my sons who I hope will help me fix them.  I have talented children.

My wife is already planning another trip - this time just the two of us - off to someplace exotic, like someplace up in Michigan again.  After all, I live in Ohio.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Death of Social Media Advertising

Edit Note: I usually post on Mondays but on Saturday, August 30th, I will do a special guest post with Elyse Salpeter's and her release of "Flying to the Fire." There will be prizes that day. Don't miss it!  

Is social media advertising dead?

Well, yes and no.  It is still out there.  Facebook and others will gladly take your money.  In fact, they want your money.  So, yes, social media advertising is very much alive.  

Oh, sorry.  I meant "free" advertising, like it was just a few years ago.

In that case, NO.

It is now a well-known fact that Facebook has revamped their site to monitor your advertising you attempt on your page.  Yes, Big Brother is watching you, so you're not as paranoid as you thought.

IF you place a link in your comment (status), it has been rumored that Facebook will limit who will see and how many you can distribute it to.  Don't be fooled by the "Public" posting.  It won't be.  You stick in a link and you've doomed that status post to a limited audience.  If you want to advertise, you must pay to advertise on Facebook.  It is now a corporation that works on profit margin.  Its start-up days are over.  To by-pass this "law" is rather simple - make your status update with the information but eliminate the link.  Click to post and immediately comment on it - adding a link in that comment to what you are attempting to hawk, be it a book to sell, or a site to visit.

While I'm discussing Facebook, have you noticed that you don't see "all" your friends' updates any more?  That's right - when was the last time you saw something from that person who likes the same strange foods you do and lives in Utah?  In fact, when was the last time you noticed anything from your buddy in Toledo, Ohio - a mere fifty miles away?  

So, to see if he is still alive and well, you type in his name and ... WOW!  He's been posting away to the tune of about 5-8 posts per day.

Of course, you did see the post from XYZ and their offer and also a post from your cousin that she posted, uh, 18 hrs ago as one of top three items.  Hmm?  

So, you click on one of your buddy's post and comment.  Suddenly you start to see a few of his posts come through.

AH-HA!  For you to see what any of your friends are doing, you MUST interact with them.  You can't just scroll through the last umpteen hundred posts and review.  Facebook is now forcing you to interact.  Of course, this IS social media but social media also includes taking notice, not commenting on every item, every day.

But back to advertising.  You can advertise with Facebook but you must narrow your view.  You can't just advertise to everyone.  You need to narrow your audience.  Of course, Facebook will use the information you have given them to create the audience.  

What does that mean?  If you don't give any information, more than likely, you'll never see those ads.  If I were to want to advertise to males, ages 25-35, in the state of Ohio, and reads horror.  If you don't state your sex, age, or where you live, and share if you read horror, my advertising will ignore you.  Why is this bad?  You might be the one interested in what I have to sell.  Let's say I'm hustling my latest horror book?  I'm spending money to advertise to who?  Not you, my target audience.

Some of you are nodding and saying: Twitter is free.  And you will see almost every tweet of your friends.  

TRUE.  And there are those who use automatic programs to send out a sales pitch about every 20 mins, or maybe it is every hour.  I walked away from Twitter for 15 mins and I had over 600 tweets to review.  Trust me, I read EVERY one of them!  NOT!  So, if others are like me, scrolling ads are just that -- scrolling without reading.

The same hold true for Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr and all the others.  Too much scrolling.  Too much to consume.


Five years ago, maybe even ten years ago... social media was THE choice.  Today?  EH.

So share with me, how would you advertise?  Or how DO you advertise?

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Stupid Is Stupid

Okay, I'm not sure which is the proper way to say it: Stupid is as stupid does OR stupid does as stupid is.

Really, it doesn't matter - stupid is stupid and there just isn't any way around that!


Yes, I ranted about spam (not the so-called meat product) last month and how fast it comes at you.  Now, I want to know - Do spammers think we are dumb?  I believe their hope in doing all this spam is to find either a young person who doesn't know any better, a truly elderly person who is completely befuddled by the Internet or just a stupid is.

Think about it.  How many of you, out there in the cyber-world, open attachments from unknown people or what appears to be blatantly obvious spam?  Now, really - think.

You just got an email from xyz@vermonttruckerslawyers and it has an attachment for you to attend a hearing.  Hmm?  Were you involved in an accident or some traffic violation with a trucker?  If not, were you in Vermont?  Seems the Clerk of Court in Vermont or some attorney's secretary has sent you a document that you need to open to discover all the details.

Who opens them?  If you do, STUPID IS or STUPID DOES.  Step back from the computer.  If the email message is from the Clerk of Court, then why is it from xyz@vermonttruckerslawyers?  Secondly, having worked at a federal court and dealt with lower courts - never would they send you an email.  Anything legal like that would come via registered mail or an official person of the law or court.  It is going to be put directly into your hands.  It will NOT be sent anonymously with no legal way to prove you received it.

Now, explain why Red Lobster, Crackerbarrel, Wendys, Burger King, WalMart, Sam's Club, etc etc would send you a certificate to redeem for $10, $15, $25, or even a higher amount?  What did you do to deserve such an honor?  Did you give them your email when you purchased something?  I have yet to be asked for my email when dining.  Oh, sure, I've seen the receipt where it states "Go to xxx and fill out the survey for a chance to win xyz."  Yes, you give them your email.  Hmm?  That certificate you just received with an attached document came from (supposedly) Burger King.  Oh wait, actually, the email address sending you that document is  Huh?  Burger King has people moonlighting for them, sending people gift certificates?  NO!

Once you open an attachment, you've committed your computer.  You have authorized that document to do whatever is necessary.  If it has a virus or worm inside the attachment, it now has the ability to infest your computer. And there ain't a damned thing you can do about it.

Okay, you don't open mail from strangers.  Good.

I got an email from a buddy.  Strange one.  It was from him.  It was his legitimate email address.  Huh?  Only one thing wrong.  There really wasn't any message other than "Gotta see this" and a link to click on that would supposedly take me to whatever he wanted to see.  I almost clicked on it but something told me not to do it.  If I did, I would be STUPID IS or STUPID DOES.  I sent an email to my buddy.  He didn't respond.  In fact, it was almost 10 days before I heard from him again.  He was without a computer.  He'd been hacked by a "Gotta see this" email from a friend and he clicked on it.

Even with professional software, if you click to allow, 90% of the time, that software isn't going to protect you stupid move.  It might, if it is good and has been updated regularly, notify you that the action is about to allow a virus or worm into your computer, but most of the time, you'll find out the hard way.

The WalMart spam is rather good.  It states:

We want to show you how much we appreciate your repeat-business at Walmart, so we are going to give you access to a $100 Walmart Gift Card. You'll be able to use this card for ANY purchase in ANY of our locations or you can use it right away on our website!
Really sounds legitimate but... I normally use cash, having given up credit cards and seldom using my debit card (having been burned by illegal use) so I'm not sure how they know my repeat-business.  Yeah, they want me to just click that link and get my just rewards.  What I'll get is probably over $100 in computer repair bills.

So, I guess it don't really matter which way you say it -- STUPID IS or STUPID DOES.  The bottom line is STUPID is STUPID.  You click on an attachment or link, you get what you ask for.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Who's Your Super Hero?

Edit Note: I usually post on Mondays but on Saturday, August 30th, I will do a special guest post with Elyse Salpeter's and her release of "Flying to the Fire." There will be prizes that day. Don't miss it!  More information on how to win will be forthcoming.

Last Friday was a strange day for me.  People would stop and talk to me.  Okay, some of it can be easily explained - I was interviewed by the local newspaper and the article finally appeared in Wednesday's paper.  It was a simple article about people taking on a second career after retirement.  I was originally told it would be an interview of several people but when the article appeared, it was just me.  I guess I should say I was lucky I wasn't one of the others who got cut.  Of course, if they never got interviewed, they would know.

Anyway, people would come up and say "I saw your picture in the paper."  In fact, we had a small get-together at the church Saturday night and the article was passed around to those who had not had a chance to see it.  How was it brought up?  Simple.  One of the church elders began with "We have a distinguished celebrity in our midst" and then showed the paper with the article in it.

Anyway, back to Friday.  I had a woman approach me with "Wasn't your picture in the paper the other night? Aren't you a writer?"  I acknowledged the truth.  She had a young boy, about 10 yrs of age, I think, in tow.  The woman thought it was wonderful that I had decided to pursue my dream of being an author. It was something she hoped some day to be able to do, also.  I smiled, listened, talked with her and suggested that she might attend our next small, local writing group's meeting.  I wrote the information on the back of one of my business cards - yes, I carry 'author' business cards with me constantly.  She was about to leave when the boy looked at me and asked: Who's your favorite super hero?

I'm not sure where the question originated or why since we'd not mentioned any heroes, super or otherwise.

I smiled and told him that was a very good question.  It's the easiest way to stall for time so one can think.

Here is my response:

When I was about your age, I had several super heroes.  I would say Superman was my favorite, but I also thought The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Sky King and Batman were pretty fantastic.  Of course, as I got older, like in high school, I thought a couple of my teachers were pretty wonderful and of course, President Kennedy was high on my list.  As the years passed -- I'm an old man now -- my heroes have changed.  I still think Superman is great but I've discovered that some regular people are more super heroes than him.  My dad was a super hero, along with my mom.  Sure they couldn't leap buildings or stop speeding bullets, but they taught me a lot of things.  I also think all the men and women who spend every day protecting us by serving in the military are the true super heroes and I don't even know them.

He gave me a strange look and then frowned.  I asked: Who is your super hero?

He replied with: I think God is because he made all of the others.

I got down on one knee to be more on level with this young man -- and remember, it wasn't an easy job for an old fart like me.

"I think you're right," I said and shook his hand.  "I guess I just wasn't thinking big enough."

"Do you think you could write a story where God is the hero?  I'd like to read that."

I told him I think that book has already been written.

He replied "I've already read the Bible.  I'm looking for another book."

I laughed and stood.  His mother started to apologize.  I told her it was quite okay.  Suddenly, I was called by a friend and she said she had to go.  We went our separate ways.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to write a story where God is a super hero and make sure that the story isn't anything like the Bible.  Hmm?

Until next I ramble on...