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 Comma Coma – a deadly disease

Do you go into a coma when someone starts talking about commas?

Don’t get bit by the deadly comma coma bug! Figure out how to make the comma work for you, not against you!

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The purpose of all punctuation is to clarify your thoughts and ideas so readers can enjoy and understand the book!

Did you have a teacher that told you, “whenever you feel the need to pause, insert a comma”?

WORST ADVICE EVER!

When we are writing, we naturally pause to think. That is not necessarily where a legal-grammar-rules-keep-calm-and-use-commas-e1490740001283comma needs to be.

Commas have a number of rules. My favorite site to use – and to introduce to my students – is the Owl at Purdue. Their comma usage explanations are clear and detailed.

One of my editor-friends believes the comma used for introductory words, phrases, and clauses is “going the way of the dinosaur.” While I agree that some people and publications seem to think so, I think it’s still a valid and needed use. [I’ve used introductory commas in this blog – one was in the previous sentence, “While I agree…]

The Fanboys rules is the easiest to remember; however, because of the number of teachers giving the pause advice, I get sentences that look like this:

The Rams won but, not everyone was happy.

We sometimes punctuate our speech this way for emphasis, but you can’t hear tone in these words, and it’s just wrong.  < this sentence contains correct use of the fanboys rule.

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My students often ask me to explain the whole “Oxford Comma” disagreement. Well, it goes like this: There are people who use the oxford comma and then there are monsters!

Example:Oxford-comma-explained.png

Commas are confusing, but they’re not impossible to learn. Any editor is going to appreciate the correct use of commas regardless of how much they appreciate or introductory comma. 🙂

 

 

A Habit of Success

66 days –

That is what a new study says it takes to form new habits.  The study participants reported a range from 2 to 254, with 66 being an average.

writing+ritual+It depends on the person. With me, it takes 3 to 4 weeks for me to stick to my commitment. And every year my teaching schedule changes, so there’s two to three months a year for me to recommit.

The holidays, however, throws many people off.

However, once the commitment is made and the habit is in place, it’s much easier to get back into the mind space. The secret is to jump right back into the habit after a holiday or change.  writing

Also, I think you have to make an effort to guard that commitment. Don’t be tempted to make lunch plans on a writing hour, make it for later or for a different day.

Life too easily distracts us and, without habits firmly in place, we are easily swayed.

Author to Author Interview – Welcome to Ann Harrison-Barnes

Tell the readers a little about yourself:

My name is Ann Harrison-Barnes, I am the proud single mother of a beautiful little girl. I’ve been blind from birth. I love spending time with my family and playing with my nieces and nephew, when I’m not reading, listening to podcasts, writing or crocheting.

Tell us a little about your writing – genre, publications, etc.

I write Christian fiction with a bit of mystery and suspense. I guess you could call my first full-length novel a Christian mystery. I have also written a children’s book and I’m working on a few others. I’ve not only published my own books through Amazon KDP, two of which are licensed under the Electric Eclectic Books brand, but I have been featured in four anthologies. Three of which are online, and one I’m figuring out how to offer as a giveaway. One of my books is a small short story collection that has a bit of everything. I am currently working on revisions for a how to book for aspiring authors who want to self-publish their own books through KDP

Do you have a favorite character, story, setting that you’ve created?

My favorite novelette is called Inner Vision, an Electric Eclectic book. I loved adding a bit of mystery, intrigue and a bit of romance to this Christian fiction story.

How long have you been writing?

Well, that’s a hard question to answer, because I started when I was in fourth grade, then I dabbled in it when I was in high school, but to be honest with you, I have been writing professionally for over eight years now.

What was and is your motivation for writing?

After I suffered emotional abuse from my first husband, I had dreams of climbing. And I turned to music. Those dreams gave me the inspiration and motivation to write A Journey of Faith: a Stepping Stones Mystery. Since then, I have been compelled to write stories and novels to share the message of God’s love through entertainment.

What do you hope readers walk away with after they’ve read something you’ve written?

Each book has its own special message, for example, I hope that people get the message that they shouldn’t give up on their life long dreams. I hope they learn to face their fears and not let fear hold them back from doing the things they love, when they read A Journey of Faith.

What is the biggest challenge your blindness has presented in your writing?

Adding photos to blog posts, formatting my books, creating covers, and sometimes having the necessary funds to seek the services of an editor. As for marketing, transportation to events can be a challenge.

What do you believe or hope your writing future holds?

I hope that I can at least touch the life of one person through my writing. If I can  bring them closer to God or give them a brief moment to allow their inner child to be fondly remembered through my Children’s books, then I’ve done my job. If I take on professional clients, I hope to give them high-quality work. However, I also want to find writing jobs that I know I’ll enjoy.

Please visit my website for more about me and my books. While you’re there, be sure to hop on over to my blog.

https://annwritesinspiration.com

Thank you, Ann! Best of luck to you!

Professionalism

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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: 

 

Guest Author: Paul White and Love

41530671_446651229159319_7854224569849085952_n - CopyWhen Noreen asked me to write a guest post for this blog, I was happy to oblige. However, I had no idea what I should write, until she suggested I write about the love, my love, of writing.

You see, Noreen picked upon a paragraph from a post from my own blog ‘Ramblings from a Writers Mind’, this is it…

In my heart of hearts, I believe the soul of the writer, the artist that lays within, is the greatest asset of all. No one can learn to write unwillingly; the writer must have love and passion above teaching and education.

A writer must want to write, above all else.

So, with the introduction over, I’ll wander through my thoughts about this subject as they come to mind.

***

Personally, I believe the passion for writing starts early in life when a child begins to compose stories, poems or simple essays.

My own first ‘published‘ work was a poem called ‘The Angel of Death’, which may seem a rather disturbing title for an eight-year-old boy to use, until you relate it to the Bible. Now, I am not a religious person, but back then, in 1966, the world was a very different place and religious studies in schools here in England were almost exclusively Christian.

At the tender age of eight, I was just beginning to understand the descriptive power of words and, even though I could not yet meld and mould them as a wordsmith, I still found their basic meanings influential.

The following is that poem, written by an eight-year-old me in 1966.

It is as basic and childish as one would expect but, looking back with the knowledge and understanding I now have, I can see what my teacher saw in the writing and why she insisted it is printed in the school’s annual magazine.

The Angle of Death

In Egypt, there was a quiet night.

But when the velvet sky turned grey,

A sword, gleaming, white,

And blood dripping.

A cry, a scream from every Egyptian house.

The sky turns back into starry velvet.

Sobs come from the Egyptian houses.

***

I think once the passion for writing gets a hold of you, once it is deeply buried under your skin, it is an affliction which stays with you for the rest of your life.

Is it an addiction?

Is it some sort of a hormone imbalance?

All types of weird answers can be found on the Internet.

Some claim the motivation is all about money. Others insist on fame and popularity. Still, others mention egotism.

All of us are different and, in all honesty, there are probably just as many reasons for writing as there are people on earth.

Some of us hope to win awards. Others want to influence people’s thinking, maybe by teaching, or to inspire or motivate.

But they all miss the point.

The passion, the love for writing in the first instance is something, I am certain, you are born with.

I do not think the individual reasons matter. The important thing is to discover the root for your own reasons, discover where your love began so you can use that strength, utilize it.

Never be frightened of revealing your passion through your writings.

***

The pursuit of the writing life through the love of the pen is nothing new.

Many people rise at the crack of dawn to write before going to their day job. Some burn the midnight oil and beyond, often watching the sunrise on a new day.

Anthony Trollope, the prolific and well-known Victorian novelist was, in the daytime, a post office clerk. As was Charles Bukowski and Franz Kafka worked for an insurance company.

These are a few authors we know of because they became famous, but there were, and still are, a thousand more writers who we will probably never know about, ones who wrote just as passionately and with just as much love for the written word.

In years to come, in the future, I may be one of those forgotten souls. But even that thought will not stop me writing because I have my own reasons, a reason I voiced once before in an old blog I used to have.

 

 

These are the words I posted on that blog.

But it’s just a dream, I guess.

I write to leave a trace of my being, however faint that may be.

I hope, or dream, at some point in the future, someone somewhere will dust off the cover of one of my books and open it. Turning the yellowing, fragile pages for the first time in a millennium.

As they read my words, they shall hear my voice echo through the centuries, be touched by my narrative. I wish them to become one with my story, lost in the world of fantasy and fiction which inhabited my mind generations before… Then, I would not have lived for nothing.

But it’s is just a dream, I guess.

***

I know I am not alone in the love of writing from the heart, from the soul, from the very epicentre of my being. Here are what some other writers express.

“My writing tools were my most precious belongings. My best quill pen was made from a raven’s feather . . . I was often so poor that I could not pay my mantua-maker, but I always invested in the best ink and parchment. I smoothed it with pumice stone till it was as white and fine as my own skin, ready to absorb the rapid scratching of my quill”

Kate Forsyth

 

“Writing is making love under a crescent moon: I see shadows of what’s to come, and it’s enough; I have faith in what I can’t see and it’s substantiated by a beginning, a climax, an ending. And if it’s an epic novel in hand, I watch the sunrise amid the twigs and dewing grass; the wordplay is what matters.

Simply put, I’m in love, and any inconvenience is merely an afterthought.

The sun tips the horizon; the manuscript is complete. The author, full of profound exhaustion, lays his stylus aside. His labour of love stretches before him, beautiful, content, sleeping until the next crescent moon stars the evening sky.”

Chila Woychik, On Being a Rat and Other Observations

 

Since I was a child, the only time I was really happy was when I was lost in the pages of a really good book. I loved everything about it. The print, the paper, the intricately designed covers. And most importantly the stories held between the covers. Books were an act of love. Nothing more. Some beautiful soul had taken time and effort to pour out their thoughts. Someone had taken the time to cultivate an entirely new experience for you to immerse in. Get lost in. Feel a sense of wonder in.

Sakshi Samtani, the writing cooperative.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and that it has given you something in return for your efforts.

This is the link to my blog, Ramblings from a Writers Mind, https://ramblingsfromawritersmind.wordpress.com/

This one is for my website, http://bit.ly/paulswebsite  please come and visit, take your time browsing and say hello.

In the meanwhile, Keep Happy.

Paul White

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