February 3, 2014

A Language of Signs

By Katy Lee

My story, Warning Signs, flew from my fingers when I received word that I was invited to pitch a story to the Harlequin Love Inspired editors in spring, 2012.  I knew exactly the story I wanted to share.  I used to work with children with hearing impairments.  I learned to allow them to show me what they could do before I made assumptions that they couldn’t.  Warning Signs is a way for me to pass this valuable lesson on. It is also a way to give credit and validity to a unique language.

In my romantic-suspense story, my heroine, Miriam Hunter, is deaf. Owen, my hero is not, but Miriam and Owen are connected at first by the deafness of Owen’s son. Owen knows sign language but has some misconceptions about people with hearing impairments. It is a big theme I had to tackle in the story.

I will also admit that as I wrote Warning Signs, I feared I wouldn’t be able to make the American Sign Language to feel real on the page.  It took work and a constant effort to read each word/sign carefully to make sure I did the language justice. I was challenged to make sure the reader felt involved in the language without any confusion. The goal of reading is to find enjoyment and enlightenment. I wanted   readers of Warning Signs to have this experience, too. I didn’t want this story to come across as a tutorial. So, for the most part, I used tags such as he signed instead of he said. Where the sign/word has a crucial role in the story, I describe the sign specifically.

Another way of communication I paid close attention to was through expression. Miriam is a funny lady, and much of her communication incorporates her visual facial features. So for those, too, I had to carefully imagine her expressions and put them into words the reader could follow and understand.
Now that the book has been released, I am hearing from many readers who are deaf, and also friends and family of loved ones with hearing impairments, that they enjoy imagining the signs as they read along.  After reading these messages, and also the review from the Romantic Times Book Reviews magazine, I think I can say that Miriam is touching many lives through her beautiful language, and I successfully accomplished what I set out to do.

As an Inspirational Romantic Suspense author, Katy Lee writes higher-purpose stories in high-speed worlds. Through her writing, ministries, and teaching, she dedicates her life to sharing tales of love, from the “greatest love story ever told” to those sweet romantic stories of falling in love. Katy and her husband are born New Englanders and love to travel with their three adventuresome children.  You can connect with Katy anytime at her website, Here find her social media links to Facebook and Twitter  

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