Friday, May 17, 2019

Changes (Feedback Appreciated)

My erratic brain can't cling to a topic that's important or meaningful enough to post about.  Instead, I'm thinking about changes.  Feel free to make suggestions or comment on anything.  Some things aren't decided quite yet.

Mentor Program 2019:

Mentees who aren't picked will receive rejection emails before the announcement post goes live.

Chosen mentees will have a picture up with their announcement.  (Kind of like the post the mentors have.)  If they're comfortable...

Mentor Program 2020:

A mentor will (hopefully) exist for teen writers.

People with advanced degrees might be able to apply as mentees, provided they received their degree at least ten (or fifteen) years prior.

On the Blog 2019:

We will open to flash fiction and poetry year-round.  When we do, it will be under similar guidelines and pay as reviews and essays.  Warning:  I'm picky.

The occasional giveaway will occur.  (Our first is expected to be in September with Keah Brown's The Pretty One.)

Our Next Step 2020:  

A Youtube channel for readings and vlogs?  Free, on-demand writing classes taught by other crips (I'd pay the instructors... not sure how much)?  I don't know.  What do you folks need as disabled and/or neurodivergent writers?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Mentee Applications Open Through June 20th

You've read about our mentors.  You checked over the mentee application's guidelines and restrictions.  Now, it's time to apply!

A few things:

1.  An "advanced degree" is anything above a bachelor's.

2.  Preferred pronouns include "he/him", "she/her", or "they/them".  Basically, are you male, female, or nonbinary?  We try quite hard to respect your identity.

3.  You don't have to have a book-length project to apply.  

4. You can just copy and paste all the questions in the body of an email with your answers and attach your writing sample.  If you can't, please contact us and we'll try to work with you!

5.  If you have questions, please email us at: or find us on Twitter:  @HandUnPen

We're so excited to bring you this program another year!  

Friday, April 26, 2019

Meet the Mentors for 2019!

Su Zi - Literary and academic writing in a variety of forms (editing, development, chapbook organization)

Note:  This mentor will not read erotica or anything with killing of any kind.  She is also not fond of genre work.

Su Zi is equal parts writer, artist, and badass eco-feminist.  She holds an MA in English and has published in such places as Driving Digest, Exquisite Corpse, and Blue Heron Review (where she was nominated for The Pushcart Prize).  She resides in Florida with her horses, dogs, cats, and turtles where she runs The Red Mare Chapbook Series.

Methods of correspondence:  Twitter DM (another method may be agreed upon later)
Ann Stewart McBee - Short fiction/flash fiction/poetry (story development, putting a chapbook together, submitting, query letters)

Note: Her emphasis is flash fiction.

Ann Stewart McBee was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She graduated with a PhD in creative writing at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where she taught undergraduate composition, creative writing and literature. She has published fiction and poetry in Ellipsis, Untamed Ink, The Pinch, Citron Review, and At Length among others. Her short story collection titled How Rabbit Went Down and other Mishaps is available at Hoot-n-Waddle press. She now teaches English at Des Moines Area Community College, and lives outside Des Moines, Iowa with her husband and a smelly terrier.

Methods of correspondence:  Email
Carey Link - Poetry (editing, submitting, offering feedback, query letters)

As part of a military family, Carey Link has had the opportunity to grow up in many places across United States and Germany. Carey has resided in Huntsville, Alabama for the past 20 years. In 2008, Carey completed a B. A. in psychology from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In 2016, Carey retired after 16 years of working in civil service in the Civilian Personnel Advisory Cener (CPAC) and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) at Redstone Arsenal.

Carey has been writing poetry since she was a teenager. Carey has published a chapbook What it Means to Climb a Tree (Finishing Line Press) and a poetry collection Awakening to Holes in the Arc of Sun (Mule on a Ferris Wheel).

Methods of correspondence:  Email
S. Baer Lederman - Novels/Short fiction/Essays (copy editing, submitting, novel/story development, novel/story editing, essay editing/writing)

S. Baer Lederman hails from Rhode Island, but considers himself a Midwesterner at heart. Since finishing his Navy service, Baer has focused on writing, receiving his MFA from Roosevelt University in 2016. Baer’s fiction has appeared in Entropy, Chicago Literati, Dapper Press, and Nebo. He’s been featured as a finalist in Slippery Elm’s 2015 Prose Contest, Scribes Valley 2015 short story contest, Providence Journal’s H.P. Lovecraft short story contest, as well as the NOLA Literary Festival’s 2018 Tennessee Williams short story contest. Baer has been awarded an artist in residence positions at SAFTA in Tennessee and the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming. He recently completed his first novel.

Methods of correspondence:  Skype or email
Drew S. Cook - Poetry (editing, arranging a collection, submitting, fundamentals of poetry reading/performance)

Drew S. Cook is a native of the Ouachita Mountains, and the sights and sounds of that region continue to influence his writing. Over the course of his life, he has been many things, including an expert in obsolete operating systems, a student of literature and writing, and a Bipolar I. Drew's MFA in creative writing from the University of Central Arkansas will be/was conferred in 2018, and he begins/began doctoral studies at the University of Louisiana Lafayette that same year. His poems have appeared in NimrodPleiades, and elsewhere, and he is a former co-executive editor at Trio House Press.

Methods of correspondence:  Email, Facebook, or Discord. 
Sarah Krenicki - Short/Flash fiction (submitting, writing/editing, identifying places to submit to)

Note: She really enjoys speculative fiction.

Sarah Krenicki writes short speculative fiction and has made attempts at poetry. Her fiction has been published in Syntax and SaltGemini Magazine, and Lumina. She studied English and Creative Writing in college and after a brief stint in insurance marketing, found her way to the nonprofit world. She lives in a yellow house with her husband and two noisy black cats, and she overthinks everything, including/especially this bio. Pisces/Slytherin/INFP, for those who want to optimize compatibility. 

Methods of correspondence:  Text, email, Facebook or Google Video chat

Friday, April 12, 2019

(Review) Selections from Across Two Novembers: A Bibliographic Year by David L. Faucheux

Across the top on a tan background, the title appears (some words in black, others in brown). The middle of the cover is taken up by a brown bookshelf holding various books. At the bottom, the same tan background displays the author's name in black.

Note:  There are very descriptive passages about food and alcohol references in this book.

Mr. Faucheux's book is a memoir-journal of a year in his life spanning from one November to another.  It is a year of books, good food, music, friends, quotes, trivia, and tales of navigation through life as a blind man with fibromyalgia.  This is a new, abridged version with updates from the author added.

The chapters are months broken into shorter, dated entries.  But, just because the entries are short, doesn't mean you don't get much out of them.  There is always some knowledge/insight to be gleaned.  Sometimes a lot of it.

Imagine sitting down with a brilliant friend for a leisurely dinner.  He switches topics from Henry VIII to types of vanilla to Louisiana history to his latest favorite read.  You aren't sure what he'll talk about next, but it's almost always something interesting.  That's what this book was like for me, though I understand if some people find it a bit chaotic.

There were times Mr. Faucheux would start to discuss a topic I really wanted him to explore deeper, only to have him leap the track to an unrelated musing (maybe due to it being the abridged version).  Quote example:  "It really does feel as though the country has different sections, each at a different phase in the utilization of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)."  

I feel the author is quite honest when talking about his struggles with society.  The casual ableism leveled at him throughout college because "blind people don't learn X thing or get employed in X field" was sprinkled in like it was commonplace (and it probably was).  When he lost a dream because he couldn't find a way around a technological hurdle, I related to him so much I ached.  Quote example:  "My biggest fear is that I'm simply not able to make a contribution, even a small one, anywhere, in anything."  {Me too, Mr. Faucheux.}  He also speaks on his limitations in an open way.

I enjoyed this read and would recommend it.

One last quote:  "My advice to young blind people is to be whatever you need to be, join whatever you need to join, and use whatever you need to use to get wherever you need to be in life."

Small reviewer nitpick (my personal taste):  On occasion, he uses the word "exotic" to describe foreign characters in books.  Also, the term "gypsy-like" to describe a person.
Author Biography:  David L. Faucheux was named Audiobook Reviewer of the Year for 2018 by Library Journal and has reviewed for them since 2006. He lives in Lafayette, Louisiana and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Louisiana State University where he also attended library school.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Chemotherapy: Work-Life Balance (Rambling)

The first seven-to-nine days after a chemo dose I'm exhausted.  Brain fog swirls around each thought, and I nap daily.  Side effects cram themselves between gaps of consciousness.  I get nothing done.

 I struggle with my lack of progress, especially when my brain starts to clear but I'm still not able to work.  Everything I want done bombards my thoughts.  I tell myself I should get busy. Naps, so necessary, are taken as a sign I'm lazy.  I begin to hate myself for my lack of ambition.
There is a two-week span between my chemotherapy treatments.  During a rough dose, I might only have four truly "good" days to get things done before I receive another.  I must choose carefully or I lose even more time to indecision.

Three blogs, two Twitter accounts, one mentor program, four email accounts, submission deadlines, editing, social obligations, doctor appointments...

My husband and I don't have children.  I don't work outside the home.  I can't imagine what chemotherapy is like for other people.
The American Cancer Society runs commercials with smiling chemotherapy patients who do yoga, manage a full-time job, and go dancing.  They are nothing like me.  These portrayals make me feel like I'm not trying hard enough.  Why is it easier for them?

Maybe, like most advertisements, it's all an act.
I'm a huge believer in lists and prioritization.  Foolishly, I thought all my tasks could be managed with an up-to-date list in color-coded glory.  The list is barely a guideline.  A blog post that should take an hour will now take three.  An afternoon of submitting to literary magazines bleeds into a muddled week.

Near the end of every recovery period, I quickly sketch what I need to do for the next set of "good" days.  Only the barest of plans are laid.  Any promises I made go to the top.  My career takes a hit because the only one I will disappoint is myself.

I struggle and flail.  I tell myself any progress is victory.  I nap.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Mentor Applications Close April 7th

Update:  Mentor applications will be accepted until April 7th.  Hopefully, this will help our potential mentors.

We have one returning mentor for poetry.  And... that's it.  Applications for mentors close in ten days!  (Click here for the application link.)  No one else has emailed us.  I'm hoping for a rush of excellent writers directly at the finish line.  But, I know I can't always turn dreams into reality.

I haven't promoted the program as hard this year... maybe.  Chemo is demanding and difficult.  Perhaps everyone thought it was more exciting last year because it was our inaugural year.

We want to make this an annual event!  To our knowledge, we're the only mentor program for disabled/neurodivergent writers.  We're the only program that keeps it directly in our community.  Always.

If we don't receive more applications, the program will go into hiatus this year.  We don't want that to happen.

Please, if you're an established disabled/neurodivergent writer who thinks they'd make a great mentor, consider applying.  It's a volunteer position but an important one.  You will help foster another writer's career or project for two months.  For a community that's often isolated from mainstream opportunity, this could make a huge difference to someone.  You could make the difference.

(For all the links about our program, click here.)

If you have questions or need the application in another format:  Comment on this post.  Or email us at:
We are also on Twitter:  @HandUnPen

Friday, March 1, 2019

Suffering Artists (Two Branches)

You do not have to suffer for your art.  You shouldn't be expected to bleed trauma onto the page or stage for the masses.  You have a right to find joy, peace, connection, or any number of facets in creation.

The mythology of the "suffering artist" is often used to make downtrodden, creative folks stay on a path of isolation and pain.  It's supposed to hurt, society tells us.  We're supposed to endure.  But, agony shouldn't be a constant state of being.

Following any passion requires sacrifice... true.  There will be arduous parts of your career.  Ultimately, art should nourish you more than wound.
Notions of suffering propelling art are so romanticized in certain circles that some artists bemoan not being targets of bigotry or oppression.  They crave the flavor it would add to their work.  A truly privileged position, to think of trauma as an accessory!

Instead of counting themselves lucky, they practically demand front-row access to torment they have no right to.  They soak it up vicariously and try to regurgitate it for their own audiences—losing nuance and depth for faux-gravitas.

An important fact the rhetoric ignores:  Art can heal.  It defines the knots of past wounds.  It can show others the shape of someone else's pain and help them understand.  Pain is not a currency.