Today we’re pleased to welcome author Sally Ember to Indie Author Month.
The experiences of every author are different – how they come to write in the first place…how their writing evolves over time…how their life experiences shape their work…
Sally’s guest post is one of the most interesting and in-depth we’ve had for an author feature on the blog. We hope you enjoy reading it and learning more about her work, just as we did.
“Why I Started a LIVE Talk Show: *CHANGES* conversations between authors on Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) and YouTube”
In early April, 2014, I had just completed and uploaded Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, of my science-fiction/romance/ multiverse/ utopian/ paranormal (psi) ebooks in The Spanners Series for adults, New and Young Adults, and joined two new writers’ groups in the East Bay (one in Berkeley and one in Hayward, California, where I had been living), when I was in a terrible accident. The resulting broken nose has been healing fine and didn’t require surgery; the concussion has proven to be a lot more problematic.
For several months, it was as if I were in a fog. I wasn’t allowed to do any serious computer work, reading or thinking (I had been about halfway through Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, when I got hurt). Since I couldn’t wear my glasses without causing myself enormous pain (glasses would be sitting on the broken nose, right?), and I was overwhelmingly aphasic, exhausted, confused and injured, unable to process much, the respite from writing, reading and working seemed necessary. The accident had also caused extreme damage to my arms, hands, shoulders and upper back, so keyboarding wasn’t all that feasible, anyway. Plus, when I did type, I made more errors than words, typed very slowly (usually over 100 WPM; then, about 40 WPM, with numerous mistakes).
However, once the enforced hiatus was over, I still couldn’t return to my regular life. My memory was horrible, both short- and long-term. I couldn’t find words, or the right words, to speak or write. I no longer sounded as if I were drunk, but I was still extremely slower and less able, all around, than I had been prior to the brain injury. I usually function in the top 10 percent of intellectuals, with an extremely large vocabulary and many types of intelligence. I had been fortunate, up until the accident, to be a wide reader of many subjects, with both formal and informal education beyond the doctoral level and a larger variety of knowledge, experiences and insights than most people. Post-concussion, I was barely above-average and often, not even that.
Before the injury to my brain, I had been writing my fiction series quite quickly, often exceeding 2,000 words per day. My creativity seemed boundless, my energy matching it. Volume I’s first draft had been completed in under two months, and it was over 130,000 words. I had developed a spreadsheet to record my (very brief) notes on my series’ dozens of human, animal and alien characters, multiple timelines, overlapping realities, historical and future events and people, but most of the series’ details and plans had been in my brain which had been injured to the point of being severely compromised.
In July of last year, I discovered all I could create were short, nonfiction blog and other posts, and it took “forever” to finalize each one, since I typed sentences that were riddled with errors. Each post needed to be proofread multiple times. I could barely read others’ blogs and reblog/share, almost couldn’t read short pieces/stories.
Yes, after a few months I was improving and could do these with increasingly better understanding, but I still couldn’t return to my fiction series. My “executive functions” and “working memory” were still extremely low-performing due to the post-concussion syndrome I had been diagnosed with in June.
I wasn’t well enough to return to my “regular” life of work or writing, but I was well enough to be bored. Luckily, I had discovered Google+ the previous year. During the winter and spring of 2014, I had been attending Hangouts On Air (HOAs) somewhat regularly. I attended and participated (when that was allowed) in many HOAs by leaving comments, questions, and interactions with others also viewing or presenting, on topics ranging from books, book marketing, authors, writing, marketing, social media, spirituality/meditation and more. I watched most on Google+, but they were also archived so I could watch those I missed on YouTube, where I found even more entertaining, informative videos.
After my accident, watching videos was about the only thing I could do, since reading, writing and other glass-wearing activities were excluded. I got into watching one HOA in particular, “Lights, Camera, HOA!”, run by an excellent trio of women: Meloney Hall, Rayne Dowell and Sheila Strover.
After I attended a few shows, Rayne read Volume I of my series and reached out to invite me onto the show to learn more about being in/on a HOA. The entire reason for this show’s existence is to help newbies (like me) get comfortable with the HOA format and technology, both on- and off-camera. I LOVED it! What a great service this show provides. THANK YOU! https://plus.google.com/u/0/+Bigupticksociallightscamerahoa/about
As a former actor/performer, being “on camera” wasn’t hard for me. As a writer/author, being able to interact with viewers LIVE was so much better than having readers I almost never hear from or meet. I was hooked on HOAs and wanted my own. I learned everything I could in the next several months, wondering if I’d be able to manage my own show.
What could I have a HOA about, exactly? There were an infinite number of choices. By then, I had been interviewed on several radio shows online and submitted many “author interview” posts to others’ websites, so I was familiar with that format and was beginning to feel it was somewhat overused. Frankly, and no offence to the current website(!), I find most author interviews to be awfully repetitive and, well, boring.
I did NOT want to interview authors, but I wanted to meet more authors and talk about writing as well as many other interesting topics. By the end of July, four months post-injury, I still couldn’t write for my series, but I was able to talk better and listen very well. I decided to launch in August and to have a show that I would want to watch.
Since I wanted to be around other writers and hear about their experiences, hoping to be entertained and inspired until my own writing would (hopefully) be accessible to me again, I posted on Twitter, Facebook groups and in general, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ communities to invite authors to be guests on *CHANGES* conversations between authors. I also ranged around to those sites that posted award winners in science-fiction, particularly, and invited many of those authors on my show as well.
The response has been more than gratifying. I welcomed Dr. Shay West as my first guest for my August 6, 2014, premier Episode, with several more super authors scheduled to be on subsequent shows. Since then, with a few planned and even fewer unplanned exceptions, I have had an Episode each week. The live show airs three or four times per month (with one week off, to rest) on Wednesdays, 10 – 11 AM Eastern time, and in August 5, 2015, I will air my one-year anniversary show!
Amazing authors have been guests on *CHANGES* (http://goo.gl/1dbkZV on my website for full schedule of past and upcoming guests). I have had guests who joined me live from France, Spain, England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Canada, and many states in the USA. The authors I have talked with enrich me weekly (and my viewers as well, I hope), writing in every fiction genre and including those who also write nonfiction, plays, screenplays and poetry. Ethnically, my guests have been American mixed-Causasian, African-American, African-Jamaican, Spanish, English, Indian (continent, not tribe), Russian, Jewish, German, Norwegian, and Greek (so far). Editors, publishers (magazine and book), and translators, with an age range, as of August 5, 2015, of 16 – 78 years old, are in my *CHANGES* guests club.
Our conversational topics list is too lengthy to include here, but has been exactly as I had planned: wide variety, high-level subject discussions that are informative, entertaining, insightful, funny and poignant. My guests and I share personal and professional stories, discuss books and writing, publishing and editing, book cover artists and much more.
I am quite happy to say that, as of June, 2015, *CHANGES* Episodes (now up to 32, http://goo.gl/1dbkZV on YouTube) have garnered audiences as large as over 1000 in one day, totalling over 2300 views, so far. My YouTube channel went from having 2 to over 40 subscribers. I now have over 2400 followers on Google+ and Facebook, each (although some are the same people, I’m sure), and almost 5000 on Twitter. Pinterest followers’ number has quadrupled; so has LinkedIn’s. Many compliments, positive comments and excellent questions appear for each *CHANGES* Episode from viewers who watch live or later.
I wish to convert the *CHANGES* videocasts into podcasts, for those who prefer to listen-only, but the podcast hosting sites are not free. I also wish to pay for my next book covers, buy better equipment for my home videocasts, and keep writing, but the concussion has severely limited my ability to work and I am in deep debt. If you’d like to help, http://www.patreon.com/sallyember has a video about my goals and rewards to donors in which I sing (really; not so well, but, hey; I’m not a professional singer!), and more information. $4 gets you a free ebook; larger donations earn you deep discounts on professional editing, proofreading and writing tutor services, all of which can do well, despite the concussion.
Since starting *CHANGES*, I’m delighted to report that downloads of Volume I of my series, which is permafree since I uploaded Volume II (right before my accident), are steady. I do wish for better sales for Volume II, but I’ve heard a series has to have three books released to “really take off.”
About that: in other good news, as of May, 2015, I am back to writing new parts of Volume III! I hope to finish all drafts and revisions (more slowly, but well) by mid-fall, to release it around November or December, if all goes well. Wish me luck!
Beta readers and reviewers of all Volumes welcomed! Contact me: sallyember AT yahoo DOT com
Also, watch a few Episodes of *CHANGES*any time: http://goo.gl/6xjSKl
#Authors and #bloggers, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction, but not only those: learn more about and get yourself on *CHANGES*, and #Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest. More info, schedule and past/upcoming guests list here: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV.
I strongly suggest you check out others’ HOAs as well: there are some great shows out there in Google+ land! Two good places to find them (and another great G+ community, User2User: LIVE!):
https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/101944073205735325459 for User2User-Live!
Best to you all!
Volume I, This Changes Everything
The Spanners Series
Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse. When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are. Clara is selected to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers, communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet, eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries, convene a new group of Global Leaders, and deal with family’s and friends’ reactions. In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth? This Changes Everything begins the 30-year story of Clara’s term as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series. Are YOU ready for the changes?
Want to know more? Check out the links!
Sally Ember, Ed.D., has been passionate about writing since she was nine years old, winning prizes for her poetry, stories, songs and plays from a young age. She also began meditation in her teens. Now, Sally delights fans of psi elements with romance by blurring the lines between fact and fiction in The Spanners Series ebooks, a multiverse of multiple timelines, often including exciting elements of utopian science-fiction and Buddhism, for New Adult/adult/YA audiences; two out (first is permafree) with eight to come, Born Jewish on the cusp of Leo and Virgo, Sally’s life has been infused with change. Currently, she meditates, writes, swims, reads and hosts her Google+ Hangout On Air (HOA) *CHANGES* conversations between authors, LIVE conversations with authors, almost every Wednesday, 10 – 11 AM Eastern time, USA.
Volume I, Permafree:
Volume II, $3.99:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HEV2UEW Author Central Amazon page
https://www.twitter.com/sallyemberedd Twitter: @sallyemberedd
https://www.facebook.com/TheSpannersSeriesbySallyEmber Spanners Series‘ page on FB
http://goo.gl/tZKQpv Spanners Series‘ page on Google+
http://www.google.com/+SallySueEmber Sally Sue Ember on Google+
CROWDFUNDING SITE: http://www.patreon.com/sallyember
Thanks, again, Mel and Tony, for “having me” on your site for Indie Authors’ Appreciation month. Very glad to “be” here and hope to hear from your readers/followers. I posted about this, also.
ADDENDUM: I have 3 summer and several fall openings on *CHANGES*, starting July 15 (no show 7/8), so contact me ASAP if you’d like to be on, Authors!
Best to you all!
Sally, thanks for featuring with us this year. I really enjoyed reading your post and will catch up with you soon to come on *CHANGES* myself 🙂
Great post! I will definitely be checking out *CHANGES*, I love the idea of a sort of writer talk show. I didn’t know a lot about the Google+ HOAs but now you have be curious 😉 Best of luck with your future writing!
Thanks, Hazel! Thanks for your visit and good wishes. I look forward to hearing back from you!
If you watch any *CHANGES* Episodes, be sure to leave a comment.
And, do check out other HOAs: a lot of great ones out there and more arriving weekly!
Best to you,
Sally, thanks for sharing your story. I’ve watched a few episodes and would never have guess you’d suffered from a brain injury. Congratulations on the success of your show and other efforts in helping indie authors.
Thanks, Connie! I appreciate your viewership!
It’s certainly my pleasure.
UPDATE: “The Spanners Series,’ Volume III, “This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change” went out to Beta readers 7/2715!
Cover Reveal before or on 11/1/15, and
Pre-orders begin 11/1 – 12/7/15
Release is scheduled for 12/8/15!
Links will be on my website.
Reviewers welcomed any time after 10/15/15 for ARCs and after 11/1/15 with cover.
A really interesting read, and I have great empathy with the concussion. I had one that lasted a month after being hit by a car and being in a fog is the perfect description. I made peace with the idea that I wouldn’t ever get back up to speed, but I was lucky and did (I wasn’t too sharp to start with). It sounds like yours was much worse and impacted to a greater degree yet you’ve still persevered and produced so much.
I’ll certainly be checking out “Changes.”
Hats off to you.