Episode 10 – Meet the Other Voice – An Interview with Susy Flory
On August 2, 2011, Thunder Dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog, and the triumph of trust at Ground Zero was officially released. Overnight it became a bestseller book on the NY Times Bestseller list and even rose to the #1 rank. I was the principal author, but in 2010 I met Susy Flory, herself a full-time author, who helped bring the story alive.
Now, you get to meet Susy and hear her story. There is an incredible and fascinating story to Susy’s life and her books. She even gets into a discussion of the need for authors to make their websites accessible for persons with disabilities during our interview. My time with Susy in this interview was fun, informative, and not boring in any way. I hope you think so as well.
Some directories do not show full show notes. For the complete transcription please visit https://michaelhingson.com/podcast
About Our Guest:
Susy Flory is a #1 New York Times best-selling author or co-author of fourteen books, including The Sky Below, a new memoir with Hall of Fame Astronaut/Explorer Scott Parazynski, and Desired by God with Van Moody. Susy grew up on the back of a quarter horse in Northern California and took degrees from UCLA in English and psychology. She has a background in journalism, education, and communications and directs a San Francisco Bay Area writers conference.
She first started writing at the Newhall Signal with the legendary Scotty Newhall, an ex-editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and a one-legged cigar-smoking curmudgeon who ruled the newsroom from behind a dented metal desk where he pounded out stories on an Underwood Typewriter. She taught high school English and journalism, then quit in 2004 to write full time for publications such as Focus on the Family, Guideposts Books, In Touch, Praise & Coffee, Today’s Christian, and Today’s Christian Woman.
Susy’s books include So Long Status Quo: What I Learned From the Women Who Changed the World, as well as the much-anticipated 2011 memoir she co-wrote with blind 9-11 survivor Michael Hingson, called Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero. Thunder Dog was a runaway bestseller and spent over a dozen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Michael Hingson 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:21
Welcome to another episode of unstoppable mindset. And today we have a person who I regard as a very special guest. I’m a little bit prejudiced, though. You know, my story if you’ve listened to these podcasts regularly, 20 years ago, I worked in the World Trade Center and escaped with my guide dog Roselle. And in I think, June, if I recall, right, maybe it was earlier than that. Maybe it was like April or May of 2010. I got a phone call on a Sunday afternoon from a woman who said that she was writing a book called Dog tails. And she said she wanted to include Roselle story. I noticed that wasn’t my story. It was rosellas story in her book, and asked if I would tell her our story. And I did. There was this pause afterward. And then she said, Why aren’t you writing your own book. And she offered to help. And the result of that was that Suzy Florrie introduced me to her agent, we created a proposal and thunder dog was published in August, officially released in August of 2011. And I thought it would be kind of fun to have Susie on to tell her story. And to compare notes and talk about whatever comes along. So Susie, welcome to unstoppable mindset.
Susy Flory 02:38
Thank you, Mike, I’m so glad to be here with you.
Michael Hingson 02:43
I’m been looking forward to this for a while. And I think that we’ll have a lot of fun. And we’ll see who all we can can pick on what can I say. But here we are. So So tell me what got you into writing in the first place, what made you start to go down that that path.
Susy Flory 03:04
It was kind of a childhood dream. It’s kind of one of those, you know, I want to be a lion tamer, I want to be an astronaut kind of dreams for me. Because I didn’t know any writers. And I didn’t, I had no idea how to go about it. But I just always loved reading. And I know you love reading too. We’re very alike in that way. And so I just grew up in a book of world, a world of books and ideas and stories. And just always thought, Wow, if I could do that, but I didn’t think it was a real kind of dream. And then I got to work at a newspaper. And I sort of started to see that there might be a way in. And it wasn’t until my late 30s that I went to a Writers Conference. And I remember seeing a book editor walk by for a publishing house and he was wearing kind of grubby tennis shoes and jeans and a T shirt. And I thought he’s just a normal guy. He’s just a regular person because I think I thought you know, people who did writing and publishing were highly evolved beings that I could not be a part of. And so that was just kind of my way it was just seeing Hey, maybe I can do this.
Michael Hingson 04:23
And there you are.
Susy Flory 04:26
So you know overnight successn 20 years.
Michael Hingson 04:30
So you were working. You were working in a newspaper what were your reporter
Susy Flory 04:35
I was a features writer. Okay, I’m not really a hard news person. All they love to read the news, but I love the stories behind the news, and particularly people stories. So even though I was reading that book, dog tails, you know, I was very interested in the people’s tails as well. And so I love meeting interesting, unique people who have a story to tell which is almost everyone in the world. If you sit down and talk to them
Michael Hingson 05:03
well, how did you? So how did you get into doing a book.
Susy Flory 05:09
So that’s another big jump. So when you’re in a newspaper, you know, you get an assignment or you get a lead, or you have an idea yourself, and you got write a little story on it. And you can do it in a few days, typically. So I kind of knew how to do that. But it wasn’t enough for me, I, you know, wrote some shorter stories, got some things published. And then just found myself wanting to go deeper and do research and be people and just get bigger stories down on paper. So that was kind of a craving for me. And I think it’s because I gravitated towards books, because I loved books so much. And so what my second book, one of my very early books was a memoir that I wrote for myself. It’s called a stunt memoir. And it’s kind of where you’re set yourself some assignments, and then you live them out and write about them. So I decided to investigate women who I thought had changed the world, people like Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, you know, Rosie the Riveter and do something that those women had done. And I just created like this little set of assignments for myself. And I was terrified because writing a book is really hard, as you know, or maybe it was easy for you. I don’t know, like, maybe it was easy for you. But writing a book is hard for me. But I enjoyed it so much the challenge, and it pushed me and challenged me. So that’s kind of how I shifted from writing articles, which felt doable to books, which seemed extremely hard and scary.
Michael Hingson 06:50
What was your first book published?
Susy Flory 06:53
So my first book was about the Davinci Code. Do you remember that story? Yes. It was published in the early 2000s. And it really took the writing and publishing world by storm unexpectedly. And there was a lot to talk about in the book was about Jesus, and maybe he was married. Maybe there was this whole mystery that we didn’t know. And the book was fiction, it was all made up. But it really touched on some things I think people were curious about. So my first book was called fear, not the VINCI. And it kind of centered on these big questions that people had.
Michael Hingson 07:32
How did you get it published? Since you had not published a book before?
Susy Flory 07:37
Good question, because I didn’t have an agent at that point. And basically, what you do is you start submitting. So without an agent, you create what’s called a query letter. And it’s basically a pitch a short pitch. And back in the day, you could either mail them, so you would write a letter with a self addressed stamped envelope, hoping that you would get a response. Or it was really kind of early days of email correspondence, as well. So you can do either and you would contact, you would basically be cold, calling editors, and trying to get them excited about you and your writing, and whatever your idea was. So that’s what I did. And I got 13 rejections on that first book. And number 14, I found an editor who was interested, who I had met at a writers conference. So I think when they meet brand new writers at a Writers Conference, industry, people, they can see that you’re not a crazy person, and they might want to work with you. So it’s a good groundwork to lay. So going to a conference meeting another and then writing these query letters. That’s how I got that book deal.
Michael Hingson 08:53
I was that evolves to today, is the process different now do you think,
Susy Flory 08:59
um, it’s very similar. If you don’t have an agent, you still have to jump through these hoops. And that’s how they weed a lot of people out to, you know, are not informed to want an easy way in. And so the pitching process is similar, but right now I have an agent so that that literary agent helps with that process. But I still have to create the pitch, still create a book proposal still, you know, develop the whole thing without actually writing it yet. And then, you know, the publisher needs to see what this book is going to be. They need a very good idea of it before they invest in it. So it’s a lot of work. It’s kind of that pre production part.
Michael Hingson 09:49
Yeah. Which is true, whether it’s in writing or in selling or anything that you do, or that anyone does. There’s always going to be a process and In a sense, it’s good. It hasn’t changed. Because, as you said, so many people want an easy way in. And the fact is, there isn’t an easy way in,
Susy Flory 10:09
right? You gotta do your homework and prepare ahead of time. And then you may or may not be lucky. Yeah. But you can’t be lucky if you don’t prepare. And I know that you are so good at that, Mike, you’re really great. You’re an inspiration to me how you do the homework and prepare for everything that you do.
Michael Hingson 10:31
Well, thank you. You mentioned about easier, harder writing what I did when we did thunder dog, I had written lots of notes, I had created a lot of thought, on paper, and wrote a lot of the history. But that wasn’t a book yet. And then when you said, Well, why, why aren’t you writing your own book, and we, we started working toward that, and created a proposal that that was sellable. And of course, you having an agent, that was that was valuable, too. But the the point is that then when we started working on the book, all those notes came together. And what you did was you, you used your newspaper skills, if you will, to to coalesce that. And then we work together on on creating it, I’ll never forget, when we were working with the folks at Thomas Nelson, and they came back and they said, The problem with your book right now is that you don’t have good transitions between being in the World Trade Center and going back to previous places in your life. And it hit me I know how to do that. And I had never really thought about it before, but over a weekend created those, those transitions. And they love that. And of course, Curtis like that when they when they did their review of the book, but we worked well as a team. And I think there’s there’s value in that too. Because we we had a story to tell him, You adopted our story. And we made it a collective story, which I think helped.
Susy Flory 12:03
Yeah, because you can have a wonderful story and a lot of people do. But you have to make it entertaining, and enjoyable and readable and engaging and almost like addictive. You know, it’s like the kind of think of it like the first date, you have a cover and a title and maybe a first page to connect with the reader. And then after that they better work. So we’re not gonna stick around for long, if he’s not excited, exciting to read,
Michael Hingson 12:32
right. I remember reading the first Harry Potter book, and it took a while to catch on. But we read it after lots of others had gone. I think actually it was the third book had already come out. By the time we discovered it. And Karen and I stuck with it. We read the audio version with Jim Dale. And for a while, we kept saying what is it that excites people about this? Because it just started out so slowly, but because there was such a big furor over it. We stuck with it. And it got better as it went along. But it didn’t start out grabbing us with that first page.
Susy Flory 13:14
Yeah, it felt like that, too. But I think maybe children, you know, I mean, it was kind of geared towards what 6/7 eighth graders kind of that was maybe the primary audience at first. Yeah, like that’s, yeah, yeah. And like, they might stick with something longer than a grown up reader would. And so in that case, I think we kind of followed what the kids were enjoying, and then kind of figured out, oh, this is good storytelling, it did kind of build, you know, it had the build. I agree with you on that.
Michael Hingson 13:46
And we have now read them all three times. You know, they’re, they’re great. They’re great books to read. What about self publishing? How does that fit into the scheme of just the world of writing a book? And getting a book out? But also, can that help in terms of either that book or later books getting noticed by editors?
Susy Flory 14:14
Yeah, so self publishing, there are so many options. These days. It’s kind of the wild west of publishing. And, you know, you have so many ways that you can be published, it’s actually kind of confusing and overwhelming for people where it used to be more kind of straightforward, I think, with self publishing, if you have some sort of platform. So if you are out there speaking teaching, you have some sort of, you know, media channel a name for yourself, I think it’s a really, really great option. If you don’t have that you need to be prepared to do some advertising. And people have made a way for themselves self publishing that way as well. But it also works for someone who wants to publish something for friends and family. So I think a lot of this depends on your expectations. And in a world where physical bookstores, many of them have gone away, and much book shopping has gone online, it really is a viable option. But you really need to educate yourself and, you know, be involved at every step of the process, where when you’re with a traditional legacy publisher, there are times you can kind of just let them take the lead on certain things.
Michael Hingson 15:31
Do you think that the traditional publishing world is going to go away with everything being online and so on?
Susy Flory 15:38
That is such a great debate, and it’s been raging for years? Yeah. Yeah, it really changes like, you know, depending on what’s going on in the world, and what’s going on in the culture, the type of books that sell, or don’t sell change. But right now, the publishing industry is doing just fine. And so I, I think there’s always the danger. But there’s something about physical books that people love and have loved for 1000s of years. So I don’t see it completely going away, I do see it completely, you know, continuing to change and evolve.
Michael Hingson 16:16
I hope that libraries and bookstores, and the traditional publishing world doesn’t go away. I think you’re right. And I, I don’t know how to really describe what it is to sit down with a book. You know, for me, it’s in Braille, of course, but still, reading a book in Braille is not the same as listening to a recorded book, just like reading books with an electronic device, just apparently, isn’t the same as sitting there and being able to turn the printed page, time after time, I hear people say that there’s just nothing like reading that printed book.
Susy Flory 16:57
And, you know, people worry about television, and the streaming services, you know, Netflix, and all those things that offer so many options for entertainment. But there are still, I think, a very loyal and solid segment of the population that are word people. We love words, and you know, words in a book are they speak to us deeply? And so I think we’re safe for now, Mike?
Michael Hingson 17:25
Yeah. Well, and and if you could get some of those people who watch TV, to sit down and read an engaging book, and if they truly get engaged, I wonder if that would, would change some of their views. Because what a book brings that television doesn’t is the whole issue of imagination. I have, I have listened to radio shows that really evoke imagination. And I’ve even watched a few television shows that compel you to imagine, they don’t spell everything out. And I find those to be most engaging a ball.
Susy Flory 18:10
I love that. Yeah, I’m actually in school right now, working on a master’s, and my thesis that I’m working on touches on this idea that the reader collaborates and participates in the story. And so a book is going to be different. Every time a person picks up a book, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, it’s going to be a little different, it’s going to hit that person differently. Because they’re participating. In that experience. It’s like, as a writer, you’re talking inside of their head and having a conversation with them. But you’re not just dictating what they’re gonna think and feel and imagine. So yeah, I love that. It’s the process of, of engaging the imagination.
Michael Hingson 18:53
It’s interesting to think about textbooks, I am still of the opinion, having read many textbooks in my life, especially physics textbooks, and so on. I think authors of textbooks are really missing it. By just making the textbooks about fact and theory and teaching what they teach and never putting stories in. I think they could do so much more if they both personalized it, and put some stories behind the teaching in the books that would make them more compelling for people to want to read.
Susy Flory 19:35
I agree. And when I used to read, I don’t read magazines too often these days, but back in the day, I used to read a lot of women’s magazine, infant fashion and culture and all the stuff and I would always read the story, story part of the article and just skip over the teaching and bullet points and facts parts so I totally agree with you.
Michael Hingson 19:57
Well, even magazines like Playboy, you You know, I don’t know how many people know. But one of the best science fiction stories of all the fly was originally published in Playboy, and Playboy had stories no matter what else it was doing. And, and all the other different things that went into it. The creators of that magazine recognize the value of good stories and good writing to one of my favorite stories about September 11. Is that a week or so later, after the the events of September 11. And we got very visible in the media. We got a call, I got a call from America Media and of course, are the people who publish the National Enquirer and other magazines, and, and papers which tend to be weak on accurate content and more on sensationalism. And this person wanted to do an interview and they said it was going to be serious, and we talked on the phone, and they wanted to send someone out to take pictures. And I said, okay, and I went off and I told my wife, Karen, that this was happening. And of course, she immediately hit the roof, they’re going to sensationalize it. How could you even agree to that? You know who they are. They’re crazy. And, in fact, the guy called the day before he was going to come out to take the picture. And he said, I want to make sure that that I’m calling the right person. This is Michael Hinkson, who was in the elevator that fell from the 100th floor to the bottom and survived and, and he’s the guy right. And Karen immediately said, nobody’s coming out to take pictures. Well, what we found out later was that, in fact, there had been that rumor and they were investigating it. But American media still published our story as part of a journal that they put out around the World Trade Center. And it was actually one of the most journalistically best pieces, not just my story, but the whole magazine was one of the best pieces that that I had ever encountered. And Karen acknowledged it as well. They were very accurate. They were very thorough and told a great story. So you know, they can do it, sir, like the Harlem Globetrotters. Right? They have to be great basketball players to do what they do.
Susy Flory 22:24
Yeah, I know that. Sometimes they hire really good writers for their special editions, too. And they charge more for them. Because it’s, you know, they’re putting out a book basically. Right?
Michael Hingson 22:36
And they did a really great job with this one. And so, you know, people can do, what do publishers look for when someone is sending them a proposal and so on? What are they looking for?
Susy Flory 22:49
They look for three things, Mike, they look for a great idea. They look for great writing superior writing with a distinctive voice to it. And then they look for a platform, that you have some kind of connection with your readers, and that there are people out there who will buy what you have to fix. A lot of people have great ideas or they can write. But you know, to get someone to actually purchase a book. Yeah, to invest in it, there has to be that connection in some some way, some fashion or another. So those are the three things they look for, they will sometimes accept two out of three. So if you have an incredible story or book idea, and incredible writing gifts that you have refined, and with a distinct voice, sometimes you can squeak by without a platform, or, you know, one of the other things. So that’s, that’s kind of the scoop.
Michael Hingson 23:50
Well, I noticed that when we did thunder dog, the world had already changed to the point where they weren’t doing as many book tours, and the publishers weren’t doing as much marketing. They were also requiring that, that we as the people who were writing the book and proposing had to demonstrate what we were going to bring to marketing the book.
Susy Flory 24:14
That’s right. Yeah, we had a lot of fun coming up with ideas and, you know, having meetings and things like that.
Michael Hingson 24:22
Well, and and we did and, you know, I think it actually did help a lot in not only getting visibility for the book, because we had, of course, you and I the biggest steak of all, we were the the authors, the creators of the book, but that also it gave us an insight into the world and the things that the publishers do and wanted to do, but they did their part as well. But today it is true that an author has to be ready to be able to to help sell the book
Susy Flory 25:00
Absolutely, you kind of become almost like your own little multimedia Corporation. But you know, on a very small scale, but you have to get the word out. And that doesn’t mean just going on Facebook and saying buy my book, you have to look at where people are hanging out and what they like to read and do. You need to be out there, being excited about your book, which is easy to do, if you have written something that you know, is very meaningful that you care about deep. Lee, I always had a great time talking about thunder dogs. I was out there talking about it. You were talking about it 10 times more and more effectively. But we did we just had a good time sharing the story sharing the things that you have learned and wanted to share in the book.
Michael Hingson 25:50
And still do, by the way.
Susy Flory 25:54
That’s right. And it’s a story that never gets old Mike.
Michael Hingson 25:58
No, it doesn’t get old it is it’s gonna be there. It’s fun to go out on on the road still and do speeches and travel and tell my story and talk about teamwork and trust and all sorts of things. And one of the things that I love to do somewhere in the course of of every talk that I give is to to encourage people to buy the book and then I have well nowadays Alamo set up and I say look, Alamo just told me that we’re running low on kibbles. And so we poor starving off and we need you guys to buy books because Elmo says he’s got to be able to eat tomorrow.
Susy Flory 26:30
Which is the trip which, by the way, right? Writers work hard for their kibble.
Michael Hingson 26:36
That’s right. And their dogs and their dogs expected piece of the action.
Susy Flory 26:42
Right? Yeah, that was such a fun summer Mike hanging out at your house with Roselle and Africa. And Fantasia, you had three big beautiful labs that would be kind of wrestling at our feet as we talk. Yeah, it was a wonderful summer.
Michael Hingson 26:59
Yeah, it was. And we we, we lost well, Africa, retired in 2018. And then Fantasia passed away the next year. So we are now one dog family. But we also have a cat. So we we do keep busy with all of those. So tell me what, what is the difference between a memoir and a biography or an autobiography?
Susy Flory 27:27
Yeah, I think one thing to talk about it with that question. First is to say that there are kind of two categories of memoir, there are memoirs by big celebrities. So this might be a person like Michelle Obama, or Bill Gates or something like that. They can write whatever they want to write. So they may call it a memoir, more often, it’s an autobiography. And they tell you the whole story of their life. And it’s like 500 pages, you know, it’s like this big huge brick of a book. But they’re in a different category. They’re just a household name. For most of us, myself included, people don’t know us, as well. And so we write, we try to write an exciting story. So a memoir is making a story of your life. It’s a true story. But you’re doing some storytelling, and you have a beginning, middle and an end, you have an exciting moment that you’re building to, and a lot of times that focuses on a season of your life. So thunder dog, focused on your 911 story. And then, you know, brought in things from your life as part of the book. And so a memoir is, is more focused than an autobiography. It’s not a history, it’s not a comprehensive history of your life.
Michael Hingson 28:46
Yeah, and I’ve read some pretty boring autobiographies. And there again, it goes back to what I said earlier. My My theory is that, putting some stories in help, where we’re preparing, as you know, and have now submitted a proposal for a book. Originally, we were talking about calling it blinded by fear. But Carrie and I are, are calling it now a guide dogs Guide to Being brave. And it’s about fear, and it’s about overcoming fear. And it’s about how, when you’re confronted with an unexpected life change, you are often so fearful that you become blinded to making good choices. You don’t learn how to use that fear in a positive and strong way. But one of the things that that I believe is important in writing that book is is to include stories to illustrate points along the way, because I think that makes any book more interesting.
Susy Flory 29:47
Yeah, I find that stories stick with me. And so you know, if I go to church and the preacher is preaching this amazing 10 points sermon, I’m not going to remember the points Unless they’re stories involved, so I’ll walk out and remember the stories. But remember the point?
Michael Hingson 30:06
Well, and the stories may be able to take you back to the points but but still, the stories are what sticks with you, because they’re personal, you can you get drawn into the stories, because you can make them personal and kind of make them your own and, and you can feel what’s going on in the story.
Susy Flory 30:27
Yeah, I love that. And that’s, that was so important with your story, because most people are never going to have the set of experiences that you had on 911. They just aren’t, you know, that was a unique event. But by telling your stories, and opening up your life in your world, you know, your hopes, dreams, fears, all of that people can relate to that. And that’s what made your story. So I think a gauge engaging makes it so engaging and relatable.
Michael Hingson 31:01
So going back to memoirs, you created a community called educational memoir, right? It’s called Everything, everything memoir, is that to teach people to write memoirs, or
Susy Flory 31:13
Yeah, and it’s not it’s, it was not never aimed at professional writers, although some writers are part of the community. But any ordinary person who wants to write their story, and so you probably have people ask you for advice with writing and publishing. And I’ve had that a lot. And at some point, you can’t help everyone. You can’t give every person individual person, you can’t go to coffee with them, and tell them what to do, and help them and so I created this educational community. And it’s on Facebook, we have a private group. And then I’m also doing a one year coaching group where people can write their memoir in a year with some coaching and help and feedback. And so, so many people want to write their stories, and they just don’t know how to do it, or they write something that’s difficult to read, that’s not engaging. So my my mission and goal is to help people write a good, readable, interesting them more.
Michael Hingson 32:14
Well, and you said at the beginning, that most everyone has a story to tell. And I think that’s absolutely true. You know, I’m working, as you know, with accessibility, so we we deal with making websites more accessible. And the whole story is about the fact that only 2% of websites today are usable, and most are not, they’re not fully inclusive. And I’m looking forward to the time when someone will really write the story, it’s, it’s still new, because there’s so much of it that’s being written in history, if you will, but I’m looking forward to the time that we can write the story of accessiBe in the story of how the Internet becomes more inclusive. And there. And already, there are just so many incredible tales to tell, about website access things that that people have done. Things that people have learned along the way that have helped them create more inclusive environments in their own world and how making a website inclusive is made other parts of a company inclusive, and so on. And it’ll be a fun story to tell at some point. It’s kind of one of those things that’s evolving today.
Susy Flory 33:30
It’ll be nice when it’s history, right? Rather than a current problem.
Michael Hingson 33:34
Yeah, well, and in a current event, but but it will happen and that’s what’s going to be a lot of fun. But but people do have stories and it would be nice if more people would learn how to articulate and tell their stories. I think that too many people are are losing the the whole idea and the whole ability of using words to create images that people can read and see. So they’re, they’re losing this ability to write which is extremely unfortunate.
Susy Flory 34:10
Yeah, they may feel like I did once upon a time that there are these amazing books and stories out there, but that they can’t do that themselves. And I feel like with some help, and some practical, you know, solutions and templates that people can what,
Michael Hingson 34:28
what about fiction as opposed to nonfiction in terms of writing skills and so on, because people like we mentioned Harry Potter what a creative thing which is just totally out of imagination. Yeah,
Susy Flory 34:43
when one big way to learn if better, if you should aim at fiction or nonfiction if you’re, you know, want to write a book is what do you enjoy reading? And for me, I enjoy reading nonfiction. I love true stories big true kind of adventure. citing stories. And so that’s what I gravitate to when I go into a bookstore or library. That’s where I’m heading. And I read fiction sometimes, but not not heavily. And so that’s one good way to figure out what you should be writing. And fiction. People are interesting novelists, they have stories inside of their heads. And so they walk around the story. And these characters and these, you know, events, and eventually they have to write it down. It’s, it’s like they’re always incubating these stories.
Michael Hingson 35:33
Yeah. And you and I both have our favorite authors. I’m still working on convincing you that Mark Twain is the best, but you know, we’ll get there.
Susy Flory 35:43
I’m not saying I don’t like
Michael Hingson 35:48
who’s your favorite author?
Susy Flory 35:50
Oh, goodness. That’s such a great question. We’ll do fiction, fiction fiction fiction. Right now I’m enjoying reading Barbara Kingsolver. So she wrote, she’s written several things. But she’s a great storyteller. And Ann Patchett. I love me and Patchett, who’s a southern novelist, who kind of writes his big epic novels, about families that are all interconnected and have secrets and things like that. So those are probably my two favorites.
Michael Hingson 36:22
We, we do a lot of fiction reading at home here, because we play audio books, and can listen to them while doing other things. That’s really hard to do with a nonfiction book, you do have to concentrate differently and more on nonfiction.
I think so. Although memoir can read it, you know, it depends on the memoir, the famous ones, you know, the famous celebrity memoirs, no, but a really well, that memoir can almost be like a novel, it’s very similar to how a novel, you know, unfolds. And so those can be super engaging, that they have to be well written.
Michael Hingson 37:02
It’s, it’s all about the story, right?
Susy Flory 37:06
Yeah. And engaging, the reader could have no ageing
Michael Hingson 37:09
the reader. And yeah, that’s, that’s, again, easier to do. Both Karen and I find sometimes that we’re reading, and suddenly, we go, how did how did they get there? Because our mind went off in a different direction, you know, the book just took us somewhere. And we just leaped off into a theme, and then we come back, and they’re in a different place now.
Susy Flory 37:36
Yeah, there has to be a logic, you know, there has to be planning that’s happened behind the scenes that maybe you aren’t aware of as a reader, but it does all have to fit together kind of like the structure of a house, the framing of the house.
Michael Hingson 37:49
Well, in the case of audio books, also, the other part of it is that the reader of the book, the person reading the book, and recording, it, has something to do with it. I’ve been spoiled by some really good readers of talking books over the years for blind people, and find that there are some people who professionally are recording books for everyone today who are good, but I also find that sometimes there aren’t good readers, or that for some reason, we don’t react well to them. And that diminishes the book a great deal. Unfortunately. They may very well be good books, but still
Susy Flory 38:29
some audio do you call them a performer or a narrator? What’s an audio Column A
Michael Hingson 38:34
reader but you know, people reader former some people call them narrators.
Susy Flory 38:38
Yes. And some are like an actor’s Yeah, some are like, Yeah, they just make it come alive, and some are very dead. So I totally get that.
Michael Hingson 38:47
Some are actors. I remember years ago as a child reading, kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson and Roddy McDowell read it. The actor, and there have been others. My favorite science fiction book of all times, the Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein was read by Robert Donnelly, who was primarily a radio actor, but was perfect for this book. And, and I, I’ve read other books by actors who’ve just been very good. And they put voices in the books and they they use different voices for different characters, and they pull it off really well.
Susy Flory 39:29
Yeah, I have a book coming out in February that’s set in Ireland and I’m hoping for the audio book that they have somebody who can, you know, an Irish person or somebody who can have a really good Irish accent, because I just listened to have you ever listened to Angela’s Ashes on audiobook?
Michael Hingson 39:47
A while ago?
Susy Flory 39:48
Yes. Yeah. Frank McCourt. He bred it. Oh, yeah. His voice. He was so alive. He did voices and he would also sing Irish songs as part of the and you wouldn’t Totally missed that if you were reading it on paper.
Michael Hingson 40:03
Yeah. Yeah. Again, some people can bring, bring a book to life and sometimes the author is the best one to do that. Tell us about the book in February.
Susy Flory 40:15
Yeah, this is a book I’ve been working on for a couple of years. It’s called sanctuary. And it’s about a real life donkey whisper in Ireland. The man named Patrick Barrett and he grew up his father started Ireland’s Donkey Sanctuary. So they’ve rescued 1000s of donkeys over the years, because the problem is donkeys can live 50 to 60 years. They’re sort of like parrots, and people will grow old or their life conditions will change. And this poor donkey is just kind of left to fend for itself. And it happens all the time, they’ll find donkeys by the roadside that are starving. And so he grew up in this atmosphere. And as he grew up, he ran into different kinds of troubles and struggles. And it ended up that his father’s Donkey Sanctuary actually rescued him. And so it’s small town Ireland, small village Ireland with the castle, you know, on the main street and donkeys and Irish family and redemption.
Michael Hingson 41:20
It was a great book to read. I remember you asked me to read it and write the foreword in the endorsement for it. And
Susy Flory 41:28
that’s right. Yeah, your forum forward is right up front there.
Michael Hingson 41:32
The only thing I never did see in the book was a leprechaun. So I still teach about that.
Susy Flory 41:38
We made a rule now leprechauns in the book are on the cover.
Michael Hingson 41:41
They might get you in trouble you know, those leprechauns they know these things.
Susy Flory 41:46
There are fairies of their I don’t know if they’re leprechauns. But there’s a strong belief in fairies and Banshee as well. So yeah, Irish about to talk about imagination. The Irish have strong literary and beautiful imagination really
Michael Hingson 42:03
don’t want to run into a banshee, though.
Susy Flory 42:04
Do you don’t know.
Michael Hingson 42:08
I’ve seen Darby. Oh, Gil, I know about these things.
Susy Flory 42:13
Apparently, they make a really strange noise at night and you want to stay inside when you hear
Michael Hingson 42:17
that? You don’t, I don’t really want to come out where they are. Well, so that book is coming out in February. And I’m really looking forward to to seeing it out. And do you have any say? Or do you have any ability to to provide input into who will read it? If it gets on to Audible or in a recorded form?
Susy Flory 42:38
No. So far, I have not had that. And I don’t think Patrick wants to read it himself. He’s super busy. It’s lots of kids and a busy life. So I think they, you know, will choose the best person that they can.
Michael Hingson 42:56
I would hope they would do an interview with him though. I mean, he is very interesting person just having read the book, and I would hope that there’d be an opportunity to to hear his voice somehow.
Susy Flory 43:08
Yeah, that’s a great idea. Yeah. And he can do voices himself, you know, he can. The whole one of the reasons he’s called the donkey whispers he can talk to donkeys in their own language, the way that they talk. They have very extensive vocabulary. And he can also imitate people as well. So he’s very good at that. He has that year for that.
Michael Hingson 43:31
That will be exciting to to have come out. Now you also have another book that has been made into a movie that’s coming out next year, right?
Susy Flory 43:40
Yes. And you know, I said sanctuary was coming out in February. I was wrong. It’s actually coming out St. Patrick’s Day in March. Oh,
Michael Hingson 43:48
my goodness. Good day for it to come out.
Susy Flory 43:52
But that same week, it’s very odd net. This was not planned, but a book that I did a few years ago called The Unbreakable boy. It’s a father son story about a boy with brittle bone disease and autism. That was made into a movie recently, it’s being released by Lionsgate studios. And Zachary Levi and Patricia Heaton are starring and it comes out the exact same week as sanctuary. So it’s a very strange and unusual week in my world.
Michael Hingson 44:24
Well, double double opportunity.
Susy Flory 44:29
That’s right, we’re gonna try to do we have plans to do a movie premiere. Up in the San Francisco Bay area, we’re renting out a small theater, a single screen theater, so I’m hoping that will all come to fruition and we’ll have some fun with a little we’re gonna have some red carpet and the whole thing. Oh, cool. Did you know about red carpets? You’ve been on red Park? Yes.
Michael Hingson 44:53
Yeah. Well, here’s a question. How has the pandemic of affected reading and books do you think and writing for that matter?
Susy Flory 45:05
I know children’s books and why a young adult books have been selling like crazy, you know, with kids at home, and homeschooling and things like that. I do know, fiction and novels. Novels are fiction, but fiction is much stronger right now. People want entertainment and escape. Escape. Yeah. So yeah, they don’t necessarily want to read heavy, you know, dark, difficult, you know, material challenging material, they want to, they want to, they want to escape, they want to move to someplace like Ireland or, you know, something like that. So fiction’s doing law?
Michael Hingson 45:44
Well, it’s, it’s, um, it’s very understandable. I mean, there’s so many heavy things that we’re dealing with the things that have happened over the past two years. And we’re just slammed with the media, or by the media with all of the stuff that you want to escape. We’ve stayed home. And, and not done any travel, I did my first trip to speak in well, in May of this year, and that was the first one since March of last year. And traveling has been significantly less. But you know, staying at home has been a lot more bearable when we read books together. And so it also Karen and I are sharing it, but reading and and I’ve met as I said before, a fair amount of fiction helps just escape and get away from all this stuff that we’re sick and tired of seeing on television and hearing.
Susy Flory 46:41
Yeah, I agree. I’ve been reading a lot and watching a lot as well, watching things like the Great British baking show. So yes, Escape has been important. We want that to be the beautiful thing about stories. They do sweep you away.
Michael Hingson 46:57
We watched the holiday bake off this last Sunday. Learn some new recipes. I don’t know whether we’ll try them. But we’re trying to keep the calorie count down too. That’s the unfortunate thing about the Bake Off.
Susy Flory 47:14
So true. That’s been a hard thing for me during the pandemic because I love chocolate. Well, yeah. So yeah, we I have a little country grocery store that I go to if you’re in Volcano, and they have See’s Candy, right by the cash register. It is a big, it’s been a big temptation, temptation, have a box of chocolate and a good black and sit there and enjoy it.
Michael Hingson 47:40
Well, I must admit, as I’ve said many times over the past year Instacart and Grub Hub are our friends. And it’s very convenient that we can get some things like now that Christmas is here, peppermint bark from Costco, and, and other things. So yeah, that’s it’s always good to have a little chocolate around. Every time we we do have to go deal with Kaiser or a doctor or anything like that. I keep saying when you’re writing prescriptions, please put that 10 pound box a season. Nobody’s done that yet. It’s very disappointing.
Susy Flory 48:17
Yeah, they should make a deal with fees. I think that could work out.
Michael Hingson 48:21
I think so I don’t quite see the problem. I don’t either. Well, in another thing. I know that it’s very important for authors to have websites and have things up on the internet. That’s, of course, a great way not only to advertise, but to establish personal relationships with people. And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t explore how we might help authors do a better job of making their websites accessible so that people with various disabilities who might not be able to access part of their sites, get the access that everyone else has. Probably a lot of author websites are not overly complex websites, they’re, they’re not. They will have pictures and so on. But they’re not necessarily overly complex. But it would be great to explore ways to work with the author world, to help them make their websites more accessible.
Susy Flory 49:23
Yeah, and kind of the probably that one of the most influential organizations as the author’s skill. So I think, you know, if they can jump in and cooperate and partner with you, I think it would be a huge victory.
Michael Hingson 49:41
Well, you and I have talked about that before and we never did really follow through much but there’s been a lot going on. So I’d love to, to get any help you can and reaching some of the folks that are but also if any authors are listening. As we’ve talked about on these podcasts, accessiBe helps makes websites a lot more accessible and it’s not an expensive process. And I mean, it’s really not an expensive process. So people ought to go to accessiBe.com and check it out. And also they can go to our website audit tool called ACE which you can get to it accessiBe.com, or just go to ace.accessiBe.com and plug in your website address and see how accessible it is and and learn about the things that you need to do to make it more accessible and usable. Because the reality is that over 20% of people in the world have a disability. And if you make your website accessible to those people, you can get up to 20% more business. And I mean, who could argue with doing that?
Susy Flory 50:48
I love that. Yeah, as writers, we want to speak and write and communicate and tell our stories to everyone. And no one should be excluded from that.
Michael Hingson 51:01
It’s not that magical or hard to do. And so, you know, I hope that that it will happen more and more. And I know authors tend to really, truly be starving, don’t have a lot of income, but accessiBe and is a way to do it. But we could certainly explore working with the author skilled, and you’re right, that is something that we should do. So
Susy Flory 51:25
and also as published authors who have if you’re a traditionally published author, or self published, you go through publishing companies who offer those services. It’s something that we can recruit request for by publishers.
Michael Hingson 51:40
Good point that, that they also deal with access and make it accessible right from the outset, we had to do some of that, as I recall, with Thomas Nelson, there were some things that weren’t accessible, but they fixed it.
Susy Flory 51:53
That’s right. That’s right.
Michael Hingson 51:56
And it is one of the things that as we’re dealing with a guide dogs Guide to Being brave, however, that goes, access has to be a part of it. We’ve been working toward making thunder dog, a movie, although that’s moving very slowly, the pandemic hasn’t helped. But again, as that happens, it will need to have an audio track and be accessible so that it’ll have to be described. So blind people can have access to it, much less everything else that goes along with it. So it will be fun to see how it goes. But you know, the reality is access is just something that tends not to be included in the conversation. We need to figure out ways to to get it more visible and get more people making sure that they provide inclusion. It’s just not that expensive and hard to do.
Susy Flory 52:51
Yeah, I love that you’re advocating in this area mica that you’re persistent and consistent with it.
Michael Hingson 52:58
We need to get some of those Irish ferries to help us.
Susy Flory 53:01
Michael Hingson 53:02
They have influence either out of their friends to leprechauns who stay in hiding, but they have to have
Susy Flory 53:08
and some of the stubbornness of the donkeys. You know, donkeys are stubborn, because they’re smart. And they are opinionated. And so they come off as stubborn.
Michael Hingson 53:19
Oh, I know that if I ever get to Ireland, I do want to go be Patrick. I look forward to that. And you know, the other thing is, if people don’t deal with access, we could always point out that we we probably can find people who can help us get a deal with a banshee you know, to get them to make their sites accessible.
Susy Flory 53:39
That’s right, we’ll set the Banshees on Yeah,
Michael Hingson 53:41
we’ll set the Banshees on works for me. I really want to thank you for for being here and being a part of unstoppable mindset. But just, we haven’t had a chance to chat for a while and the pandemic has has been for me, it’s actually kept me pretty busy just with with things going on. And so I can’t complain about that. But I think also again, it comes back to how you approach it. And you know, so this is just another adventure in a chapter in life, too.
Susy Flory 54:18
That’s right, so fun to visit with another storyteller Mike and I love that you are telling your story of this new venue now with your podcast.
Michael Hingson 54:28
It’s a lot of fun. Well invite people to come and listen. And of course, we hope that people will will give us good five star ratings. And if you know of anyone else who ought to be a guest, I’d love to chat with people and and bring them on. So we really love to to deal with this unstoppable thing and I just realized there’s something else that we should talk about in your life, because you’ve been confronted by a couple of major life changes like with The whole breast cancer concept and so on that have suddenly thrown things in your way. But you you motored through
Susy Flory 55:07
them. That’s right, I had breast cancer just before you and I started working together. And so I was still recovering from it, because it takes a while, you know, with surgeries and treatment and medication and all the things. And I decided that I didn’t have time to wait anymore, or to be afraid, or, you know, to let things hold me back. And so, I’m not saying I became unstoppable. But I did feel like I went into turbo, after I recovered from breast cancer, and I literally did think I was gonna die. My dad had died in his 40s of cancer. And so I thought that might be my path. And so when I survived, I decided to move forward and, you know, have courage. And I think that’s probably what led to me writing you that email that one day.
Michael Hingson 56:10
Well, the the issue isn’t unstoppable. But unstoppable mindset, it still is, it’s all about how you choose to approach things, whoever you are. And the bottom line is that mostly, we have control over a lot of things in our lives. And there are things that we don’t have control over. But if you worry about things you can’t control, you’ll go off on strange paths, if you focus on what you can, and let the rest take care of itself. Most always, you’re better off for it.
Susy Flory 56:44
That’s right. i My mindset became my unstoppable mindset became for me the thought or the idea of why not, you know, what do I have to lose? Why not try? And so I became more comfortable with the idea of having some failures, which is going to happen whenever you try something new. But, you know, just the idea of why not, why not try.
Michael Hingson 57:11
But also love the idea that the whole point behind a failure is not that it’s a failure. It’s a it’s an opportunity to learn and move forward to.
And it’s normal. It’s not fun. Yeah, some amount of failure is normal in this life. And once you realize that, that that’s just part of it. And maybe you had to get that out of the way before you can move forward.
Michael Hingson 57:34
Right? Which gets back to mindset, which is cool. Well, again, I want to thank you for taking the time to be here. You got lots going on and a book, I’m sure books to write what’s the next project
Susy Flory 57:51
I This one’s kind of funny. It’s called The Ultimate Bible nerd and I bought the format’s Bible Dictionary, it’s in six volumes. So if you kind of picture your whole desk being taken up by these giant bar, and I’m going to read through it, it’s 7 million words. I’m going to read through 7 million words the year and write about it so we will see what comes out with that. I’m not quite sure yet.
Michael Hingson 58:20
Make it a novel.
Susy Flory 58:24
It’s not going to be 7 million words I’ll tell you about.
Michael Hingson 58:27
That is a little bit long to deal with. But I bet that whatever comes out is going to be fascinating and worth reading. I’m gonna have to go off and look up fear not the VINCI
Susy Flory 58:44
it’s out of print, but I think there’s a few copies floating around
Michael Hingson 58:51
I’m assuming it wasn’t an audio book.
Susy Flory 58:54
I think this was before audio books were routine. Yeah, and yeah, so it was not
Michael Hingson 59:04
have to look anyway. You never know. Well, thanks again for be here. And it was good talking with you. And I want to thank everyone for listening. And again, if you have any questions you want to reach out Susie how can people reach out and find you?
Susy Flory 59:25
My website is SusyFlory.com and my name is spelled S U S Y F L O R Y or you can find me on Facebook at everything memoir.
Michael Hingson 59:39
Cool. And as always, if you have questions, comments, thoughts, please feel free to reach out to me Michael Hinkson web address to reach out to is MichaelHi@accessiBe.com M I C H A E L H I @ A C C E S S I B E dot com. Please go to Michael hingson.com/podcast. To learn more about the podcast. If you haven’t listened to us before, we hope that you’ll give us a five star rating in whatever podcast host you are using. If you know anyone who might be a good guest, or if you’d like to talk about coming on the podcast and chatting with us, please reach out. We’d love to hear from you. And you can, you can rest assured that I will respond. So, thank you very much for listening to unstoppable mindset, the podcast where inclusion, diversity, and the unexpected meet. Thanks for listening.
Michael Hingson 1:00:48
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.