Friday, September 13, 2019

Detective Pikachu's Villain (Major Spoilers)

Ah, Ryme City:  A beautiful place where people partner with Pokémon to create a utopia for all beings.  The city is the idea of Howard Clifford, CEO of a huge corporation and creator of advanced hologram technology.  Mr. Clifford has a degenerative disease and uses a wheelchair because of it.

But, someone has nefarious plans for the people and Pokémon of our lovely haven.  Who would destroy something so amazing?  Howard Clifford, of course!  Why?  Because human minds taking over Pokémon bodies is the next step in evolution.  He has found a cure for human frailty.  He has found a cure for his disease.
Howard wants a cure with such intensity, he's willing to destroy everything (even his relationship with his son).  We don't know how long he's had his disease, how it impacts him (besides the wheelchair), how old he is, or what his prognosis is.  Without more information, all we get from the screenwriters is some variation of "disability bad, must fix".  I'm honestly tired of seeing a "cure" as one of the only outcomes a disabled character could desire.

Howard is rich.  He has a whole city designed by him, a team of scientists under his command, technology most folks only dream of, and people who adore him.  He spent so much money, his scientists discovered a way to merge humans into Pokémon (that couldn't be cheap).  Was it truly easier than them finding a pill to slow the disease or an injection to reverse it?  I have doubts.

If Howard wanted to heal, why drag everyone else into his scheme?  He didn't just try to transform the disabled, the elderly, or the dying into Pokémon... his plan included everyone.  The vague mention of "evolving" isn't an answer I accept.  Maybe he could control people if they were Pokémon because he transferred his mind into the greatest Pokémon ever (Mewtwo).  But, world domination is an entirely different motive.

Was he a good person before he wound up in a wheelchair?  The movie doesn't say.  Maybe Howard was a bastard his entire adult life (his son is a good person, so maybe the mom raised him).  The only thing we really know is that he's absolutely desperate for a cure, so I would think it's the disease driving him to unscrupulous acts.  Disability made him into someone else... an evil someone else.
The game the movie is based on has a different antagonist.  Howard Clifford could merely be a poor attempt to subvert the audience's expectations.  However, with Hollywood only giving out a few worn-out tropes to cripples, we can't say the bitter, desperate-not-to-be-a-gimp villain was a genuine surprise.  At least the Pokémon were cute.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Interview with F.I. Goldhaber

How did you start writing?

When I was a child. I voraciously consumed stories and poems even before I learned to read. I told tales—both invented and realto whoever would listen (or just myself) as soon I discovered how to talk. When I learned how to form letters, I wrote them down.

Throughout my school years, I always carried a notebook and pen with me so I could scribble down poems. From fifth grade, I wanted to be a writer. When I started looking at career options, I chose journalism specifically because I could get paid to write.

You wear many hats (poet, journalist, editor, etc.).  Which role do you like best and why?

I enjoy writing and telling stories. Everything else I do as part of the process of getting words and stories to readers.

You publish the majority of your work as an indie.  When did you start going that route and what draws you to it?

How do you define "majority"? Much of my work (including the bulk of my fiction which I write under pseudonyms) appeared in print, audio, and/or electronic publications before I published it myself. My first three (and fifth) novels (transgressive and erotic fiction) were published by traditional small presses.

I started putting my backlist of short stories, many of which had only appeared in print, up for sale in 2011 as individual ebooks. Then I collected four to seven stories with a common theme into print books.

I was never happy with the covers of my first three novels and I still had to do most of the marketing myself. So in '11, I also invoked the clauses in those three contracts that allowed me to take my rights back and republished them myself with better covers (and better sales).

Of my five poetry collections still in print, only one was published by someone else first, but more than half (or more) of the poems in each collection appeared in other publications first.

I identify as a hybrid author, finding the best way to get my words to readers whether it's a small press, a big publisher, or indie publishing the work myself.

You do a fair amount of public speaking.  Do you have any tips for writers who want to improve their performances/presentations?

Rehearse. Repeatedly. In front of a camera if you have that option, so you can watch yourself and learn where you can improve. The more comfortable you are with what you have to say, the more confident you are in your presentation, the more relaxed you will be and the better your program will be received.

Beyond that, every speaking opportunity has different audiences and desired outcomes. Are you speaking to a group of teens or a group of seniors; business people or fellow writers? Are you looking to entice people into buying your book? Or are you trying to teach them something? Or do you want to inspire them to become politically active? Each audience and each goal requires a different approach.

How often do you collaborate with your spouse on a book?  How do you decide who tackles what aspect of a project?

We collaborate on almost everything, but not always to the extent that we include the others' name on our work. For example, because of my marketing background I edit a lot of the promotional copy for his YouTube channel. In turn I rely on his military background whenever I write a battle scene or a fight.

When we each contribute enough to a story to put both of our names on it, the name which appears first is where the story started. So, "Watching the Door" which won Third Place in the 2016 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award is by Joel and F.I. Goldhaber but "Hit & Run" is by F.I. and Joel Goldhaber.

In addition, Joel designs many of my book covers, including my poetry collections, all the Goldhaber indie published short fiction, and the more recent pseudonymous novels.

It should be noted, that I was born a Goldhaber. My spouse took my name when we married.

Have you ever encountered ableism or other prejudice in the publishing industry?  If so, how did you handle it?

Most of the work I did as a writer in settings outside my home (reporting/editing for newspapers, marketing communications for business, etc.) was before any of my disabilities (resulting from injury and age) occurred. When you write at your own workstationcarefully constructed to meet your abilities/needsand most of your contact with others in the publishing industry is via phone and email, your disabilities are mostly invisible.

My disabilities do prevent me from traveling, and that has cost me some opportunities. But, within the local community I have found no hesitation to accommodate my needs at readings and other speaking engagements.

What is/was the biggest obstacle in your writing career?  How do/did you work around it?

Gender. I started at a time when others identified me as female and very few women were able to break out of newspaper lifestyle sections. More than once, a job I applied for went to a less qualified male.

I used my initials to disguise my gender, which helped with readers. (One woman in West Virginia called the paper asking for Mr. Goldhaber and when I assured her that I had written the article in question, she told me that I wrote like a man. And meant it as a compliment.) But, it didn't change the prejudices in the newsrooms.
Biography: F.I. Goldhaber's words capture people, places, and politics with a photographer's eye and a poet's soul. As a reporter, editor, business writer, and marketing communications consultant, they produced news stories, feature articles, editorial columns, and reviews for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states. Now paper, electronic, and audio magazines, books, newspapers, calendars, and street signs display their poetry, fiction, and essays. More than 100 of their poems appear in sixty plus publications, including four collections.

Friday, August 30, 2019

White Cane Evolution by Carol Farnsworth

We have a love\hate relationship with our white canes.  When first given a cane to use, we reject it.  Usually, we get into a situation where we find that is better to use the cane.

My incident came at a fast food restaurant.  I was eating lunch with my family.  During the meal, I got up to use the restroom.  I bumped into several tables on the way to the wall where I felt my way to the restroom.  I repeated the feeling and table-bumping until I was back at my own table.  When we were ready to leave, I unfurled my folding cane with several loud clicks.  As we were exiting the restaurant, I heard one of the employees remark,"I thought she was drunk!"  To be seen as drunk or blind, I would rather be blind.

Eventually, my orientation and mobility instructor convinced me that I would be safer with the white cane.  I was a novice working the cane.  When with my sighted guide, I would hold the cane in a defensive position.  If I became nervous, I would swing the cane wildly in front of us, people would part like the Red Sea in front of Moses.  I believe that they were worried about being struck by my wild antics with the cane.

With time, I learned the two techniques of bouncing the end from side-to-side or dragging the end of the cane from right to left.  Both cane movements were coordinated with walking.

When we traveled to Scotland, I had good cane use but the novelty of a white cane user convinced the pedestrians to give us a wide berth, some people were so intent to get out of our way they jumped into doorways or off the curb.

As I gained confidence and training in cane use I never left home without it.  Even with a sighted guide, I still hold my white cane at the ready.

When walking with my daughter, I was using my cane and talking to her. Unknown to me, she veered us directly towards four young men walking in a line. She stopped the end man and asked,”Don’t you see this lady is blind? She will not get out of your way!”. He mumbled a “Sorry?”. I quizzed her about the incident and she replied that they needed a lesson about others in their environment.

I have made peace with using my white cane and never leave home without one. People still want to help me cross streets or grab my elbow to propel me forward because they see the white cane, not me. With patience, I explain what I can and can not do. By interacting, I help people see the person behind the cane.
Biography (in first person):  I was born with glaucoma but have become totally blind in the last four years. I have a teaching degree in regular and special education and a Master’s degree in Speech Pathology. I worked with mentally disabled adults (many were nonverbal). I learned to use many techniques to elicit communication.

Similarly, I will use many tools to deal with blindness. I will use braille, voice over, and Seri to assist me with writing.

Other interests include gardening, listening to audio books, and riding a tandem bike, which my husband John and I have been doing for 22 years.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Cry To Heaven by Jamztoma

Cry to heaven
Unloved and unwanted
Roaming the Earth
Lost and cursed
Man-child so weak
Nature's freak
So they say

Depression you got me falling, falling
And I am sobbing, sobbing
When will my troubles end?

Cry to heaven
Lonely forbidden
Underdog forsaken
an Adam-descent
non paradise-sent
unfortunate, hell-bent
So they say

Depression you got me falling, falling
And I'm sobbing, sobbing
When will I surrender to death?
Biography:  Jamztoma is a published poet residing in Silver Spring, Maryland.  He has a disability that he does not want to disclose at this time.  He has two poetry collections now being sold at Amazon, The PASEFIKA Beat (2013) and Lyrical Mysteries (2015).  "Cry to Heaven" that is featured on here was previously published in Lyrical Mysteries.  You can order it from Amazon via this link:

Friday, August 16, 2019

Giveaway: The Pretty One by Keah Brown

Image:  A black woman in a grey sweater is laughing with her eyes closed.  She has black, straight hair and black-rimmed glasses.  She looks to be outside.  Above her, there is a pink rectangle with the name "Keah Brown" in white capital letters. Below her, a yellow rectangle says "On life, pop culture, disability, and other reasons to fall in love with me".  In big, white text across her body, it says "The Pretty One".
We are giving away a copy of The Pretty One by Keah Brown (click here to see the book on Amazon).  This giveaway is open from today (August 16th) to September 20th. 


1.  Open to anyone in the world.  If the winner is outside of the 48 contiguous United States, they will receive the Kindle edition.  If the winner resides in one of the 48 states, they will have the option of Kindle edition or paperback.

2.  People may enter by leaving a comment on this post, emailing us at or getting in touch with us on Twitter @HandUnPen.  Please make it clear what you are contacting us for.

3.  Only one entry per person.  

4.  Drawing will be random, and the winner will be notified on September 21st (by 11:59 PM CST) via the method they entered with.  So, if the person who won entered via email, they will receive an email... and so on.

5.  No substitutions.  Void where prohibited.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Call for Submissions: Red Mare Chapbook Series

Image:  A block print of a red horse looking behind itself.

The Red Mare Chapbook Series is open for submissions of eco-feminist poetry manuscripts of ten-to-thirteen pages.  Poets can be any gender.  Before submitting your chapbook, you must send a sample stanza to Red Mare's publisher/editor Su Zi via Twitter DM (@xsuzi00).  There is no fee to submit.

Red Mare is sold through Su Zi's Etsy store (click here for link).  Each chapbook is hand-sewn with gorgeous, block-print covers.  The print runs are small with no reprints.

Make sure to ask her any questions you have prior to submitting.  If you want a bit of insight to Su Zi as an artist, she has an interview you can read.

Jennifer's note:  A lot of people publish with small presses and don't even attempt to promote.  Su Zi, like many of us, only has so much energy to spare.  Please, if she accepts your amazing work, at least try to get the word out.  You'd be surprised how many poets abandon projects once they're in the world.  

Friday, August 9, 2019

Poem by F.I. Goldhaber

Trigger warning:  Brief mention of suicide


You're told NormalPeople don’t hallucinate;
don’t analyze suicide methods to minimize pain, ensure success.

You're told NormalPeople don’t think twenty things
at once, their thoughts racing from idea to idea to idea.

You can explain how you got from A to two
hundred three. You're told NormalPeople don’t process information this way.

You're told NormalPeople sleep through the night. Their
minds don’t obsessively weave inextricable webs which keep them awake.

You're told NormalPeople don’t have days when just
getting out of bed to confront the world becomes a major achievement.

When NormalPeople explain this, how do you
react? Do you want to settle for normal or flee to your mind's refuge?
Biography: F.I. Goldhaber's words capture people, places, and politics with a photographer's eye and a poet's soul. As a reporter, editor, business writer, and marketing communications consultant, they produced news stories, feature articles, editorial columns, and reviews for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states. Now paper, electronic, and audio magazines, books, newspapers, calendars, and street signs display their poetry, fiction, and essays. More than 100 of their poems appear in sixty plus publications, including four collections.