Special Needs Authors and Readers – an Interview with Patty Fletcher

Hello:

Thank you so much for having me on your blog. I’m very glad to be here.

As I’ve been reading over the questions you ask, I’ve decided the best way to begin answering them is to start by telling a bit about myself, and why I write.

As you read, you’ll also see that I’ve included Campbell my Seeing Eye Guide Dog and why I chose to do so.

SmashwordsCoverMy name is Patty L. Fletcher. I’m a single mother with a beautiful daughter, of whom I am very proud. I have a great son-in-law and five beautiful grandchildren. Three girls, and two boys. I own and handle a Black Labrador from The Seeing Eye™ named Campbell Lee—a.k.a. Bubba Lee or King Campbell, to give just a couple of his nicknames.

I’m multiply disabled. I not only suffer from Bipolar Disorder, and Fibromyalgia but I’m totally blind as well. I was born premature and my blindness was caused by my being given too much oxygen in the incubator. I was partially sighted until 1991, at which time I lost my sight due to an infection after cataract surgery and high eye pressure. I used a cane for 31 years before making the change to a Guide Dog, which was the inspiration for my first book, ‘Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life’ CN-2014.

When I began my writing career with the publishing of that first book, my purpose was to tell the story of how going to The Seeing Eye™ and getting Campbell, learning to love, handle, and work him, then coming home and adding him to my life, gave me true freedom. I told of how changing from being a 31-year cane user to being a guide dog handler taught me things about myself I had never known before. I told of the wonderment I experienced when I finally took that chance.

Continuing onward,  as in the beginning, a major goal of mine is to help others who find themselves in domestic violence situations. I also want to help others learn more about mental illnesses and how different situations and environments can drastically affect those with such challenges.

As I write I focus on bipolar disorder, on how it can go horribly wrong and cause a person to behave in ways they normally would not.

Another thing I have attempted to show in these many years of writing is how, in certain institutional settings, attachments can develop—and how those attachments can become unhealthy for all concerned if they are not handled correctly. Most simply, I want others to know more about me.

I’ve written a second book as well. Campbell and I wrote it together.

‘What do you mean? What was the purpose of this book?’ You ask. Let me explain.

The book is, ‘Bubba Tails From the Puppy Nursery At The Seeing Eye’

In Bubba Tails From the Puppy Nursery At The Seeing Eye, it is King Campbell Super Seeing Eye Dog A.K.A Bubba’s turn to tell his tale.

While helping to ready a group of pups to go and meet their puppy raiser families, so they too, might one-day become Seeing Eye dogs, he tells of what it was like for him, to grow up and become a Seeing Eye dog.

As he speaks to the wee pups, he speaks about the importance of facing one’s fears, of honesty and how telling the truth no matter how hard, is always best. He speaks of love, faith and of believing in one’s self

Because Campbell and I are together I feel it is important for you to know him as well.

WHO IS CAMPBELL AND FROM WHERE DOES HE COME…?

Campbell was born in Chester N.J. November 28, 2008.

He lived with his Dog Mother and Litter Mates until he was approximately eight weeks old, and then he went to live with his Puppy Raisers.

Then, when he was just over a year-old, he was taken away from his Puppy Raiser family, to be trained at The Seeing Eye.

After only four short months he was chosen to become the guide of his now human mother Patty L. Fletcher.

One more important thing we must add, because of The Seeing Eye being the first ever school of this kind and due to its continuing to be the largest and oldest school in the world, before we continue, we’re obligated to post the following information. We’d love it if you’d visit the site sometime to learn all about how this wonderful Guide Dog movement began and what it takes to continue today.

Legal Notes THE SEEING EYE® and SEEING EYE® are registered trademarks of The
Seeing Eye, Inc.See: www.SeeingEye.org

 

What do you think the publishing world needs to do more of in order to meet the needs of those who are differently-abled/disabled?

I must say I am quite pleased to have an opportunity to answer this question. Being a multiply disabled writer most certainly can be extremely challenging. So much so that I wrote an article about it. Which, I might add was well received by many in the self-publishing world. If readers would like to have a look they may visit:  https://­campbellsworld.wordpr­ess.com/2018/02/07/­challenges-of-a-disab­led-writer/.

In the article which was also published in the Indie Publishing Magazine, I talk about the various challenges disabled writers face. Things such as:

  • Photos, Screenshots, and Memes which have no descriptive text.
  • The challenges of correctly dealing with words which sound the same and are spelled different, and:
  • Books that aren’t TTS (Text To Speech) enabled, websites that aren’t accessible to those using screen reader or voice over technology, and lots of other things the general writing world just doesn’t consider when dealing with writers who have special needs.

I must say the next question you ask is my favorite and comes to me at a time in my life when I find daring to be different whether by design or choice is hard as the devil to do.

You ask:

What do you think the world in general needs to do in order to understand the needs of those who are differently-abled/disabled?

The best way I can answer this is this…

Be open minded. Don’t put people into boxes. I’m a multiply disabled person. I think, act, and work differently than anyone else.

But.

That’s not all due to my disability and I see a lot of this going on.

The world needs to be more accepting of things that aren’t the “Traditional way of doing things.”

One of the biggest reasons I gravitated to Indie Publishing and especially blogging was so that I could go my own way, do my own thing and be OK doing so but of late I don’t seem to fit in.

Honestly, it’s starting to seriously drag me down. Seems like no matter where I go or what I do someone somewhere disapproves.

Well, to be blunt I’m quite tired of it. No two people are the same. We’re all “differently abled” All of us no matter who we are have things that are hard for us. If people stopped and seriously took a good, long, look at themselves they’d realize that no one is without some kind of disability and I just get tired of there being all these pigeonholes that I’m supposed to fit into.

I just want to be allowed to be myself, write in a way that makes me happy, tell my stories in a way that feels comfortable to me and not have all these other people telling me what I should and should not do.

I am not them and they’re not me. They don’t live my life and I don’t live theirs.

I am a 51-year-old totally blind woman who suffers from other types of disorders as well and these disorders cause me to think, feel, and process life around me in a way that is unique to only me.

But.

Is that not true of everyone? Do we not all deal with life as it comes to us in a different way? If you read something and I read that same thing are we both going to receive the very same message?

If you choose one way to put your work out there for the world to enjoy and I choose another is your way any better than mine?

I guess I’m just tired of the “world” thinking it knows what’s best for me.

I’ve a favorite affirmation it goes like this…

“The world is not perfect, so there-for I need not be perfect.”

If I were to sum it all up into one word it would be, ‘allow’

‘Allow’ me to be who I am. ‘Allow’ yourself to be who you are.

In closing let me share these words a dear friend once wrote to me during a time in my life when I was doubting my ability to succeed. He wrote…

“Patty,

Congratulations on your success! Yes, success.  All successful people (writers are people too!) get criticized – a lot.  There is an entire industry based on criticizing books, movies, plays, sports, cars, etc.… the list goes on forever.

Don’t let the criticism get to you.  You put in the work, you made it happen – only you get to decide if it turned out the way you intended.  No one else is qualified.  Forge ahead, do what is in your heart, write your books, sing your songs, dance your dance – be you.  Everyone else can worry about being themselves!”

Thank you very much for this opportunity to speak about myself and what it is to be a disabled writer in a world in which it can at times be hard to work and belong in.

Bubba Tails Wrap 6x9

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you, Patty!

noreen

 

 

 

The Secret Idea Store

Poe’s secret for inspiration is used by many writers today.

Poe scanned headlines, read newspaper stories, and gleaned ideas from the oddities. His goldstory Berenice is about a man who digs up his dead wife and takes her teeth. This is reportedly inspired by newstories of grave robbers, some of which left the body and took the teeth. Another story reportedly inspired by a news report was the Facts in the Case of Valdemar. At the time, there were reports of people who could speak to the dead; there were other stories of ways to prolong life. Poe, it seems, blended these and created a story in which Valdemar “survives” and “speaks” beyond his natural life. This short fiction was thought to be real. People believed it!

Inspiration, for me, has come from the odd news story. A human interest story in which a homeless man was selling stories on a New York street, inspired me to write $1.00 Stories.

Another story flickered to life when someone posted a handful of gold teeth and said she’d inherited them. How does someone come into the possession of teeth, not their own, and why would they will them to a family member? Hence, The Gold Tooth springs to life from my suspicious mind!

Scan the newspaper, and let your mind wander. We’re writers; we have the desire to  understand, explain, and create.

Happy Writing! happy_writing

 

Fear of …?

istock_000012625357xsmall1There’s a theory that we don’t fear failure, we fear success.

A researcher gave graduating students an impromptu essay prompt: “After finding out Joe/Jane aced their medical exams for graduation, he/she …..”

It’s reported that the vast majority of students set up a scenario in which Joe or Jane went out and partied, got in some sort of trouble, an accident, arrested, or in some cases just gave up and “decided to do something else with their lives.”

The researchers decided this was not an indication of the fear of failure, because they’d set up a scenario in which the person(Joe/Jane) had already succeeded, yet the students then wrecked the plan. Therefore, they surmised it a fear of success.fear

This possible fear of success comes from anxiety, which is rampant in society today. People stay where they are comfortable, where they are familiar, and their habits serve them. Moving on to the next level, success, will bring about different challenges, and the fear of the unknown wins out.

It occurs to me that this happens to writers. People write, and write, and write, but then don’t submit. Is it really the rejection they fear? or is it the success?  Think of all the anxiety that comes with the next level of publishing. You’ll be expected to do well, to do it again. And, what else might change?

What do you think? What do you fear?

images

 

Reader Response

Some authors are unhappy when readers see something in their story, novel, or poem that was not intended.

I subscribe to the theory of reader response. Our work is going to touch different people in different ways; readers are going to get out of it something related to what they bring to it, so if they don’t see what we originally intended, they are not wrong, nor did they read it wrong, they are merely giving the writer an insight.front-cover-small

I, personally, am thrilled when readers see something I hadn’t intended. For my novella, West End, one reader said the melancholy of the main character haunted her. Other readers believed some of the characters might have actually been spirits or ghosts. One of the characters, I left open. His questionable appearances deepened the story and the effects on the main character who is dealing with depression.

However, when another reader felt that the son might have been a ghost – it made me go back and reread my own work!

Once the story, novel, or poem is out there, readers are going to take away or put into it whatever is in their own toolbox and we can not control it. We may not like it – I had one person mistake me for one of my characters – but we do have to accept it. I usually thank the reader for their insights, regardless of what I feel about the response.

All readings are good readings!

If you’re interested in reading West End – it’ll be on sale Saturday and Sunday. And – then let me know what you think!

A Tribute to Poe on his Birthday

January 19th, is the 210th anniversary of Poe’s Birth.

poe4Although many people are content with the reason of Poe’s continued relevance in our society is the stereotypical tortured artist.  There is no doubt he was tortured, and for reasons of which we are all familiar; he was an orphan who lost every women he ever loved.

His battles with alcohol, I believe, are highly exaggerated. But it makes for a good story. I’m not saying he never drank – he drank to excess plenty of times, he may have officially been an alcoholic as we understand the word today; however, it was not a constant. There were many years through his marriage to Virginia that he did not drink or drink to excess. Before his death in 1849, he’d joined the Sons of Temperance Movement – to get people to stop drinking.

The reason Poe has remained relevant throughout the years is his work touchespoe our deepest fears and deepest desires. He has continued to inspire other writers

 

 

 

 

 

poe2and artists of all types.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He wrote far more than what we, today, consider horror. He wrote essays, literary analysis, investigative pieces. He wrote about street paving, Stonehenge, and he was inspired by what he read in newspapers.  Berenice and others were inspired by stories of grave robbers in local papers.

poe3

The famed portrait of Edgar Allan Poe was taken three days after his suicide attempt in 1848.

Edgar_Allan_Poe_daguerreotype_crop.png

And, Eddy, my imaginative fiction, was inspired by that suicide attempt. He bought two bottles of laudanum on a cold winter night meaning to do himself in. He’d lost Virginia and felt he had no one. (Laudanum contained opium and derivatives of morphine and codeine.)

eddyfinalredonefromtresized

 

For Poe’s Birthday, I offer an excerpt from the novella:

   He stumbles from the pub, slips, and falls on the iced over bricks of Boston’s November streets. Save for the muddled voices beyond the closed door, the street is quiet as his body thuds to the ground. His breath billows in front of him as he gasps and grumbles and struggles to his knees, then his feet, to regain his drunken balance.

   The gaslamp on the corner offers a wavering yellow glow for the struggling figure on the lonely winter night. Thin strands of hair blow in the chilled breeze; he runs his hands over his head, straightens himself before he pulls at the sagging overcoat and tugs it closed.

     Remembering the tinctures of laudanum pried from the chary pharmacist, he hurriedly shoves his hands in his pockets, retrieves the bottles.

   His heavy breath mounds in front of him and, for a moment, he can’t see; then the luminous cloud of brandy scented air dissipates. The medicines are intact. Relieved, he stuffs them back in his pocket and buttons his jacket.

   “Edgar,” someone calls from the corner; the noise from the pub trails the swarthy figure out until the door slams to a close behind him. “You alright?”

   Edgar waves him off without turning around.

   The thick shadow chuckles as he staggers in the opposite direction.

   The winter is freezing cold, but the snow hasn’t endured. Small white crystals pile in corners and fill the air. The icy rain soaks him before he reaches his chamber on the second floor of the boarding house. The room is small, impersonal, but warmer than the street. An unlit lantern shimmies on the desk as he unsteadily seats himself, glances out the window.

   A barely discernable outline disquiets the otherwise muted darkness on the corner of the street below. He knows it’s the black dog that’s stalked him his whole life. Suddenly angered, he shoves himself forward, pushes the unlit lamp aside and topples the ink jar.

   “Get outta here, you wretched creature.” The incensed command lost in the night.

      Recovering the secreted bottles of opium from his coat pocket, he sets them side by side in front of him. Unsteadily he tugs the lid from one and snorts in a single gulp.

For More Posts on Poe – click this link.

To get the book at 3.99 – this weekend only – click this link.

To get the ebook at .99 – today only – click this link.

 

edgar_allan_poe_3.jpg

 

Much love and luck.

 

Professionalism

prof

Some people do not understand the basic rules of professionalism. Speaking to, writing, or responding to an editor or publisher should be undertaken with care. These people are our colleagues in the best sense of the word.

I’ve worked with a few literary journals and have talked to editors at others. The things authors say and do completely surprised me.

I’ve only had a single editor be so completely unprofessional I became embarrassed for her (and forwarded her email to her boss). On the other hand, I’ve dealt with a number of writers who have taken pride in their unprofessional behaviors.

One writer posted a snarky response (he supposedly emailed) to an editor. Whether he actually wrote that to an editor is one thing, it’s quite another message to post it on social media for all to see. He may have felt he had won the battle, so to speak, but what he actually did was show how unprofessional he behaved with a colleague, and what a risk other editors or publishers might find him to work with.

We can disagree with editors, publishers, other writers, but there’s no reason to verbally attack or otherwise be rude to anyone in the industry. Taking your private issues with public companies to social media is a mistake on any number of levels. Just like employers look at social media sites, so do publishers.

I had one publisher ask me for all my Promote-Your-Brand-On-Social-Media.jpgsocial media links. While some writers told me not to hand it over, I felt it was part of my job to have these available to people in the industry. I maintain social media sites for this reason. Publishers don’t want to just know if writers have a following, but how they’re interacting with readers, writers, and others on those social media sites.

Being rude in an email, speaking arrogantly on a call, and posting disagreements publicly will not further a career.

I do understand it’s quite popular in our society of late to act like an arse and expect to be treated like a king/queen; however, it gives a poor impression and people will not want to work with a person who acts like a spoiled child.

Before you Interview….

darktimesI’ve given a number of interviews, answered questions, sent the suggested pictures, bio. links, and information, only to never hear from the once-interested-party again and to never see the interview in print.

It takes a lot of time to answer all these questions and collect the information/links requested, only to see nothing come from the work.

Some authors keep a digital file of pre-written answers to popular questions; however, my feelings and ideas change and I don’t want any two interviews to sound the same. I want my readers to look forward to a new interview, wondering what crazy thing I might say next.

There’s not much a writer can do about the never-appearing interview. We can’t ask for the person to guarantee us a spot on their blog, magazine, or other. The only thing we might do is ask more questions up front, while being polite as possible:

  • Thank you so much, I would love to give you an interview. May I ask when and where this will appear?

Although those answers, as someone who has played interviewer, are hard to pin down.

Interviews do take time, and having your hard work unused is disappointing, but not participating is risking a chance for promotion. And promotion is a writer’s best friend.

My live interview……can be found here: