Friday, March 16, 2018

Able-bodied/Neurotypical Writers and Our Stories

A lot of disabled and/or neurodivergent people don't want able-bodied/neurotypical people writing stories with us in them.  I understand why.  Writers tend to cling onto stereotypes, write about real people without getting permission from the people they're writing about, don't interview people with the actual disability/neurodivergence, and on and on.

The writers who aren't willing to do what it takes shouldn't write our stories.  Some writers will spend weeks researching cars from the 1960's but not interview one person with the disability their protagonist has.  The writer checking off "diversity boxes" is less likely to do what it takes to create authentic neurodivergent characters.

But, there are some writers who are able-bodied/neurotypical who will do the work involved.  They will hire sensitivity readers.  They will interview actually disabled/neurodivergent people.  They will make balanced characters and listen to feedback at all stages of manuscript creation.  They are compassionate.

I know that able-bodied/neurotypical authors who write disabled/neurodivergent characters often make it bigger (obtain higher advances, get more movie options, etc.) than disabled/neurodivergent authors writing our own stories.  It sucks.  But, any author who is doing things "right" will also be a passionate advocate in the publishing industry for brilliant disabled and/or neurodivergent writers; any writer who uses a marginalized group in their work and fails to promote and fight for that group shouldn't touch that group's narratives.  They won't ally themselves with ableist organisations and will struggle with us to widen doors for our success in any way they can (that includes putting clauses in their movie contract that disabled and/or neurodivergent characters will be played by disabled and neurodivergent actors).

While we don't need books with ableist, problematic portrayals and tropes, we do need more books that reflect authentic, whole experiences of our community.  If the next book with a disabled/neurodivergent protagonist that makes it big comes from a diligent, passionate author who does things right?  I'm okay with it.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Cover Letter Templates (Literary Magazines)

Submitting to literary magazines can take serious time.  For writers with certain disabilities/diseases/neurodivergences, it can take even longer and sap what little energy they have.

One trick for faster submissions is the use of a cover letter template.  A great thing about them is that only the first paragraph and salutation need to have blanks.


Dear editor (Last name),

Thank you for taking the time to review my short story (title here), which is (word count here) in length.  It is (exclusive or a simultaneous submission).  I really enjoyed (name of piece read in their magazine).

The rest of the letter will stay fairly static between submissions unless you move, change your name, publish somewhere new, or get a new job.  


I received my MFA from Middle-Fiddle College in 2014 and am now an adjunct professor.  My work has appeared in Prestigious Magazine, Well-known Literary, and Fairly Impressive Review.  I live in the middle of Middle Earth with my cat, Precious.


Oblib Baggins

3 One Ring Road
Middle of Middle Earth

Create a clean copy of your template, and save it on your computer.  Some literary magazines request different things in a cover letter, but having this document to work from will save you some time... especially if you submit a lot.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Updated Market Tabs

I finally updated the "Links of Interest" and "Inclusive Mainstream Publications" tabs. If anyone knows of other publications or websites that would fit the tabs, please contact me. Email:
Twitter:  @HandUnPen

Changes to "Links of Interest"

Blanket Sea
Reclamation Press

Pentimento (Defunct)

Changes to "Inclusive Mainstream Publications"

Wear Your Voice
Seneca Review
Poems & Numbers
Francis House

Hermeneutic Chaos (Defunct)

Friday, February 23, 2018

Ways to Promote Your Writing Online

A lot of disabled/neurodivergent writers can't promote their writing in person.  Chronic pain might limit outings.  Living on SSI/SSD (or equivalent programs) means there are no funds to travel.  Crowds could wreak havoc on someone with anxiety.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to promote our writing (and ourselves) on the Internet.  Some are cheaper than others, but the right one can be just what you need.

1.  Start a blog or write guest posts on other blogs.  (Like this one!) Blog tours to promote a book are a viable option.

2.  Vlogging (or streaming) on Youtube, Twitch, or Facebook.  You can do readings of your works, talk about the industry, etc.

3.  Focus on your Facebook or Twitter.  Try Instagram or another platform you may have overlooked.

4.  Submit to online literary magazines.  If published, you'll have a link to share on all your social media.

5.  Start a monthly newsletter.

6.  Make a book trailer or a video out of a poem.

7.  Offer an online class in an area you have expertise in.

8.  Join writer groups online.  It will take a while to find the right ones, but it will be worth it if you can find them.

9.  Have a traditional author website.

10.  Do giveaways (sparingly).  Giveaways can be a decent promotional tool, but they can get expensive and not worth it if they don't take off.

11.  Make your books available in e-formats.

12.  Take interview opportunities.

13.  Start a virtual reading series with other writers,

14.  If a book club covers your book, schedule a Skype chat to "meet" the members.

15.  Schedule a virtual book launch when your book releases.
Always take into consideration how much time, energy, and money you have to put into promotion.

Your writing comes after your care but before marketing efforts.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Is Snickering at Bad Query Letters Ableist?

I read a newsletter aimed at writers.  Every once and a while, the editor posts snippets of the worst query letters she receives (names redacted).  The sections are generally quite error-laden, and readers seem to like it.

A few months ago, the editor received an email saying the feature was, among other things, highly ableist. The person went on to say people with disabilities don't often type well (through no fault of their own) and poking fun at typos and the like was horrid.  The editor maintains she has no idea who is disabled and who isn't... she's just showing the most outrageous segments.  The person concluded by saying everyone needs to have their voice heard.

First, let me take the last point:  Just because there should be a place for everyone to share their thoughts, doesn't mean an editor should accept everything given to him/them/her.  If that were the case, some of the best literary magazines in the country owe me space in their issues.  Editors reject things for all sorts of reasons.

One of the reasons most editors reject a submission is because it has too many errors.  I don't mean dealing with a misplaced comma or errant homophone, either.  If there are so many errors that fixing a piece would require significant time, people are likely to skip it.  The next submission might be a good fit for the publication and sans typos.

Part of being a writer is having an understanding of grammar and spelling.  Everyone makes mistakes but, when we're submitting to a publication, we are attempting to show we're professionals (or reasonable facsimiles).  Our disabilities do not exempt us from this, though being in our own spaces (like on Twitter, our blogs, etc.) tends to be more relaxed.

Is it ableist for an editor to share (and poke fun at) badly-written query letters?  In my opinion... no.  Is it the best choice she could make?  I probably wouldn't do it, but it isn't my publication.

What do you think?  Is it ableist to post those queries?  Am I wrong to say it isn't?  Should disabled people be held to different standards when submitting?

Friday, February 9, 2018

Mentor Program FAQ

This will be expanded as needed.
Contact us on Twitter @HandUnPen or via email if you have more questions.

Do I quality as disabled or neurodivergent enough?

Do you have a good reason that you claim the disabled and/or neurodivergent labels for yourself?  If so, you probably qualify.

How much money does the program cost?

The program is free.  Mentors are volunteers who wish to help other disabled and/or neurodivergent people succeed in their literary goals.

What happens if a mentor or mentee becomes ill or injured and can't participate?

Since mentors and mentees work one-on-one, it will be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to find someone to fill-in.

Mentees who find themselves without a mentor after being matched will be allowed to pitch directly to mentors the following year.  Mentors will also go into the program the next year, provided they still want to participate.

If a mentee drops out within two weeks after the program starts, a mentor has the option to pick any mentee who pitched to other mentors but wasn't chosen.  They do not have to.

 If you were chosen for the program but can't fulfill your role, please let us know as soon as you can.

What if I apply and don't get picked?  

Please submit next year!  We hope to do this every year, but we need people applying to keep it going.

I'm 16.  Can I apply? 

As of right now, this program is for adults.  We may open it up to teens in the future.

I'm not American.  Can I apply?

Yes!  Anyone writing in English can apply.

Are the people picking mentors and the like going to be mentors themselves?

No.  I (and anyone else making selections) can't participate in the program because it's a conflict of interest.

So... "multiply marginalized" writers are "especially encouraged" to apply.  I'm a straight, white male.  Why aren't you welcoming me?

We want our mentor program to reflect our community.  It means my straight, white dudes are welcome.  It means my Asian enby folx are welcome.  It means anyone who works on their craft and is disabled and/or neurodivergent is welcome.

Unless you're a pompous jerk, that is.  Why is saying other people are "especially encouraged" to apply mean you aren't "encouraged"?  Think on that a bit and get back to me.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Mentor Application (Due by March 15th)

Contact me via email:
Or on Twitter:  @HandUnPen

Mentor Application for The H.U.P. Mentor Program

Notes:  If you have a CV, please send it.  

Mentors and mentees will be in contact twice a week (minimum) when the term starts. The dates for the program are August 1st to September 30th.  This is a volunteer program.  Anyone in the world can take part.

All mentors will have their photograph and information put up on the blog so potential mentees can read about them.  If you're selected as a mentor, you will be sent a preview to okay before your entry is up.

Please send attachments as a PDF file, if possible.



Email address:

Website/social media:

Highest level of education completed:

Publication credits:

Are you a member of a writing organisation or group?

Do you work as an editor, sensitivity reader, etc.?  If so, do you have testimonials?

Do you have experience as a teacher or mentor?  If so, tell us about it.

What is your disability and/or neurodivergence?  (Share as much as you're comfortable with.) Is it okay to share this publicly?

If you have a specific connection to another community or marginalization, what is it?  (Are you nonwhite, part of the QUILTBAG umbrella, not Christian, etc?) You do NOT have to answer.  If you belong to a community, but aren't out publicly, say "no".

Which types of writing do you work best in?  Poetry, journalism, memoir, flash fiction, novels, something else?  Pick two at most.

Do you work in a specific genre (speculative poetry, romance novels, travel writing, etc.)?

Which aspects of writing or publishing do you feel you can guide someone in?  Writing query letters, pitching periodicals, novel development, submitting to literary magazines, editing essays, putting a poetry chapbook together, or what?

What are your preferred methods of correspondence?  Email? Skype? Facebook? Phone calls?

Why do you want to be a mentor in this program?

Do you need any content warnings on the writing samples or projects potential mentees submit?  Just yes or no.
(If so, and you're picked as a mentor, you and I will figure out how to best address it.)

Is there anything else you want us (or possible mentees) to know?