The Story of My Hearing Loss: Part Six: ASL

In college, I needed to complete a foreign language requirement. I had taken Spanish in middle school and high school, a language I struggled to hear clearly. I somehow came up with the idea of taking ASL for the requirement.

My college didn’t have an ASL class, but they did allow me to take my course over the summer at a local community college. My mother decided to take the class with me, so I had someone to practice with. I remember the first day of class, sitting with a group varying from college aged to adult. I met up with another girl with a hearing loss and we started chatting.

At this point I knew a handful of signs. I had some alphabet knowledge, knew “I-Love-You,” and thanks to a live performance I saw as a child, “Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!” I honestly thought this would be a fun, carefree class to take.

I was wrong.

The teacher arrived, along with an interpreter. He stood up front and signed to us, the interpreter spoke his words, and my world shifted off its access. From that first moment, when I truly paid attention to ASL for the first time, I felt the language. It hit somewhere deep inside. It made sense, even when I couldn’t tell you the words.

I picked up the signs really quickly. My mom would take notes about how to form the shapes, I’d just write down the word. Many signs simply appeared obvious to me. After the first few classes, the interpreter no longer showed up. We communicated with our Deaf teacher through our limited signs and writing. And I want to take a moment to stress: if you want to learn ASL, you need a Deaf teacher.

Why? The answer is simple: if a hearing person is teaching ASL, that hearing person can teach another subject. A Deaf person doesn’t have other options as readily available. And if a hearing person is taking a job from a Deaf person, is this person really going to teach you accurate information about our world?

Along with ASL, I also learned about Deaf culture. About hearing loss, what it meant to be Deaf. My world opened up thanks to this one class. I found a home, I found a connection to the community. Yes, I was in a class, learning with my mostly hearing peers. But I was learning about MY world, My culture. My identity.

Until now, I had considered myself “hearing impaired.” This was the term given to me, although I never really accepted being impaired. I felt different, even when my ears held me back. I learned about the term “Hard of Hearing” and it became my term. My label.

I changed a lot through this class, quickly and swiftly. To the point where I didn’t even see myself change. I made my first friend with a hearing loss and she’s still my friend to this day. I became comfortable with my ears, no longer wishing to be hearing.

I don’t know where I would be today if it wasn’t for this class. I transferred to Boston University to attend the Deaf Studies program. Most of my post college jobs have been related to hearing loss. My book coming out in June is about hearing loss. This one requirement, this one decision, has made me who I am. I shudder to think about what would have been.

I can tell you one thing for certain: you wouldn’t be reading this blog.

Part Five

The Passage, a Dance, & a Little White Dress by Kristin

I’m so happy to have Kristin back on my blog, with another new release! Check it out!

The Passage, a Dance, & a Little White Dress

Release Date: April 13, 2016

Mockup 3 - Passage



It’s been a week since 17-year old Zoe Jabril found out her best friend is a Guardian Angel, her boyfriend is a Nephilim, and a fellow classmate is a Fairy. What makes Zoe so special? She’s destined to unify Enlightens to battle evil—that is, if Demons don’t kill her first.

With ‘Project: Enlightens Unite’ underway, Zoe learns the history of the area wolf pack and realizes she’s in a race against time to get her newly discovered talents under control. Despite struggling to fight a mysterious attraction to her new neighbor, rescue her boyfriend from Demons, and travel into Fairyland to convince the Summer King to join the fight, Zoe must still attend high school classes so her nosy parents don’t suspect anything is out of the ordinary before Demons can mount another attack.

Zoe will need all the help she can get, from the most unlikely of sources, if she’s to save her boyfriend’s life and prevent the Devil from escaping Hell on her eighteenth birthday.



Chapter 1 Excerpt:

Last night, a friend of mine rose from the dead—and I was the one who brought her back. So I guess . . . I’m an angel. Or, at least most of my friends think I am.
Even wrapped tightly in the arms of my favorite oversized PINK hoodie, I shivered. It was chilly for mid-April while sitting on my front porch with the sun just coming over the horizon, but that wasn’t where the tremor had come from.
I glanced up, startled by the high-pitched squealing of truck brakes that rang above the music playing from my iPod. The truck turned into the cul-de-sac and careened straight into the next door neighbors’ driveway. What made it really strange was the house had been empty since last October. I could still see the top of the “For Sale” sign on the manicured front lawn. I pulled out my cell phone to text my boyfriend, Shay.

Me: Good morning!

As I waited for a response, a gray uniformed driver open his door and climbed down. He walked to the back of the truck; then multiple doors slammed.
“This furniture goes into the living room on the main level,” a man said.
I didn’t particularly want to be a nosy neighbor, but I couldn’t help myself. I eased higher on the top step, hoping to get a look at the man who seemed to be in charge. His back was to me, so all I could tell was he had short blond hair. He glanced down at something then looked back up, turned, and pointed toward a number of other, smaller trucks in the cul-de-sac parking. More uniformed men jumped out of the smaller trucks and gathered around their boss, waiting for instructions. I had no interest in watching a bunch of people move boxes, so I just stayed on the step and waited for my best friend, Kieran, and Shay.



Website     |     Amazon     |     Nook     |     Smashwords


Author Bio:

Pro Head Shot

Kristin D. Van Risseghem grew up in a small town along the Mississippi River with her parents and older sister. And after receiving a double Bachelor of Science degree from Winona State University in Paralegal and Corrections, she worked as a Paralegal for various law firms around the Twin Cities for 14 years. Then she left the legal field and is now a Senior Buyer for a technology company.

Currently, Kristin lives in Minnesota with her husband and two Calico cats. She also loves attending book clubs, going shopping, and hanging out with friends. She has come to realize that she absolutely has an addiction to purses and shoes. They are her weakness and probably has way too many of both.

In the summer months, Kristin can usually be found lounging on her boat, drinking an ice cold something. Being an avid reader of YA and Women’s Literature stories, she still finds time to read a ton of books in-between writing. And in the winter months, her main goal is to stay warm from the Minnesota cold!

Kristin’s books are published by Kasian Publishing.

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Giveaway: The Passage, a Dance, & a Little White Dress #EnlightenSeries, Book Two Giveaway

Romance Novels and Black Moments: Make it Darker

One of the many elements that make up a romance novel is a black moment. Simply put, the black moment is a point in a novel, near the end, where the love interests are torn apart with no immediate signs of reconciliation. A black moment can make or break a romance novel. It fills the reader with an emotional high, the need to keep reading as fast as possible to get the main characters together again.

My early novels suck at black moments. This is one of the many areas I have learned a ton from in the past few years. The black moment is very much related to the emotional journey of the characters. External forces can trigger but it’s the internal weak spots that are utilized.

Romance writers need to juggle the external and internal plots. Internal is harder to see, harder put a pulse point on. It can be vague, or hidden. It can also be overdone and beat the reader on the head too often. A juggle that when done correctly, make the black moment even better.

Once upon a time I received an R&R (Revise and Resubmit) with a lot of focus on the internal plot and the ending black moment. I ate up the advice, reading it over and over again, eager to shape up my novel. I did, and sub-sequentially used that advice for many other novels.

My black moments grew better. But certain things can be made stronger. I just finished chopping up another black moment, based on some excellent advice that triggered a “what if” moment that my characters hate me for. Let me back up a bit: I love HEA, I love seeing my characters in happy places. My early novels were complete with desperate moments to get them together as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Not anymore. Since starting to write NA, I have embraced the torture. A true writer, torturing characters fuels a giddy feeling inside. My poor, poor characters. So in this latest black moment revision, the triggered idea pushed both characters into a dark place.

I may have clapped in glee. Then I worked through other parts of my novel and wanted to cry at what my characters were now going to be forced through. The set up was there, the failure level huge. The characters high enough that the emotional drop intense. And they were happy to voice their displeasure at the new ending.

But, here’s the thing about black moments: it makes the ending so much better. If the love interests are happy all along, there’s no rise and fall. They haven’t overcome anything to be together, haven’t tested their relationship. Tortured love interests leave the reader desperate for them to get together and stay together. It makes the emotional ending greater and leaves the reader clutching onto the book in hangover mode. At least, it leaves me in this state!

A black moment is routed in the internal and external arcs of the novel. What does each have to lose by venturing into the relationship? Make the loss big and then throw them under the bus. It’s easy here to get cliché. Stick to what makes your characters unique. There are elements in romances that will be tried and true again and again. It’s not what happens, but how it happens.

Create characters with a lot to lose and exploit those areas in the black moment. If your moment currently isn’t black enough, build upon what you’ve already set up. Or switch things around and throw something else at them. For me, my latest alteration involved pushing a goal out of reach from one character. Instead of that character being able to reach the solution, she stumbled down. A more realistic reaction if you ask me, though both characters did hate the initial result.

That’s life. It’s not tidy and neat. It’s messy and dark. In a romance there’s that sliver of hope as the couple reaches the end together, all the stronger for the obstacles they’ve overcome.