Friday, September 22, 2017
Friday, September 15, 2017
Parole is a crumbling city that is constantly burning and closed off from the rest of the world. Its inhabitants have powers both great and terrible, but everyone fears two things: Parole someday tumbling into the fire underground, and Eye in the Sky, the government surveillance.
Evelyn and her wives Rose and Danae are part of the resistance, a movement to keep citizens safe and Parole standing. When Evelyn bumps into Regan (a reptilian man with amnesia), things are set in motion that will test the city and its heroes, if it doesn’t kill them first.
Let me get this out of the way: Amnesia and dystopia/totalitarian regimes are tropes I’ve read a lot. So much, in fact, I groaned inwardly when I found out this book had them. Not again, I thought to myself. But, this book is more than I first gave it credit for.
The characters are diverse, caring, hopeful, badass, and realistic. Evelyn and her family are so sweet together and you can tell the three women love one another and their son. Regan longs for the feeling of love and acceptance he sometimes finds, just out of reach in his lost memories. Zilch is a nonbinary (stitched together) person looking for their heart. Even secondary characters are given adequate detail and personalities. Everyone can (and does) fight for what they love and believe. Parole is populated with people of a variety of skin tones, sexual orientations, disabilities, neuordivergences, superpowers, and places on the gender spectrum. Villains are sometimes harder to pin down than one would think.
Parole is a vivid setting. The details are plentiful but don’t bog down the story in any way. The buildings inside Parole are adequately described, but the city itself is the real star with cracks in the sidewalk, constant smoke in the air, the white noise of helicopters always patrolling. I could see it clearly in my mind.
The stakes felt high and the pacing was good. Though it seemed like there might be a little too much “down time” for the characters at points, even that is essential because of the novel’s tone.
One of the things I liked most about this novel is the hope in it. The characters face horrors every day (no one in Parole comes away without anxiety, PTSD, or depression) but everyone still loves and dreams. Our heroes strive to make a better city than the one they fell asleep in. There is emphasis on chosen family and acceptance, just as you are.
A few things to be aware of: This book features a drug that is addicting and sometimes fatal, though no detailed descriptions of someone taking it. There are descriptions of characters burning and an instance of torture. And, the book ends with things unresolved (there is a sequel out right now).
I definitely recommend this book.
Friday, September 8, 2017
1. The best place to start is online. Many of us can't travel or cover the expenses of starting an organization... online can help with that. Anything done at a physical location will need significant financial backing. Even if online is the only place this exists, it could still be significantly beneficial. Unless it's a nonprofit, I don't see it branching out to "the real world" much.
2. We need intersectional disabled/neurodivergent poets and writers in some of the top positions. They know more about true inclusion and can find pitfalls or gaps that someone white, cishet, Christian... can't.
3. It would need to be accessible in as many ways as possible.
4. Membership wouldn't be a requirement for all things.
The organization would offer:
1. An online conference, free of charge. Possibly, one offline that's low-cost. Most-to-all presenters would be disabled and/or neurodivergent writers. There would be no stairs to get onstage.
2. Workshops and classes, online (at first). These would be for small groups, as to not overwhelm anyone.
3. Small prize "gifteds". Writers would apply, much like a grant, but receive something they need for their work like new reference books, software, etc. No cash given. Many of us can't apply for grants without jeopardizing medical care or grocery money...
4. A mentor program (may be online only).
5. A newsletter serving to promote member events, new writing, etc.
6. Working with certain literary magazines, virtual fellowships could be created similar to the Kathy Fish Fellowship. Other types of fellowships could follow.
What the organization wouldn't do:
1. Create a retreat/residency. I'd love one, but think a separate organization would be best for this.
2. Be present at the AWP conference. We have a great disability caucus there, already. Members can go anywhere they want, of course. We just wouldn't be there in an official capacity.
3. Offer full-on grants.
4. Charge membership fees. There might be unavoidable charges for some workshops or whatever, but these would be kept minimal. Finances are a barrier we don't need to impose on each other.
5. Have a new press associated with it. A press is a full-time commitment. Unless the organization becomes so successful it has "departments', it isn't going to start one. If an existing press wants to partner... that's different.
I'm certain there are things I'm forgetting in all of this. The organization's goal is simple: Connect disabled and/or neurodivergent writers together and provide resources to further craft and careers.
Everything would only work if a significant group of us banded together and made it so. I don't have nearly enough funds or know-how to begin this alone, hence the tiny blog.
What would you add in all this? Do you think an online organization would be helpful enough?
Friday, September 1, 2017
|Photo: LJ Cohen|
What influenced you to start writing and how old were you when you started?
I started keeping a journal when I was quite young. I think, even then, I understood that I needed to write in order to know what I was feeling. I probably started writing poetry and short fiction by the time I was 8 or 9. For reasons that I only sorted out decades later, I was drawn to the written word far more than to any other art form.
You write (mainly) sci-fi and fantasy novels. What do you think speculative fiction can accomplish that literary fiction can't easily replicate?
I'm not sure literary work *can't*, but speculative fiction can shine a light on current society without triggering the reader's defensiveness more easily than more realistic fiction can. Whatever the story highlights, it's not about them, but about others. It's less threatening, less confrontative. And yet, powerful. Look at the incredible power of Handmaid's Tale. Perhaps its impact is stronger because it's not quite our reality, but could be.
Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it? If not, why not?
I'm really great at setting up routines and not quite so good at sticking to them. However, when I'm actively drafting a novel, I set an intention of writing 1,000 words a day for an average of 5,000 words a week. For the most part, I hit those goals and end up with a solid draft of a novel in 4-5 months. I don't really have rituals associated with my writing. I don't need a special environment or particular music versus silence. I don't write at a specific time of day. When I started writing my first novel in 2004-ish, my children were still in grade school and I had a 25 hour a week physical therapy practice. I had to learn to write whenever I could squeeze a half hour out of my other responsibilities.
You have aphantasia (the inability to "see" mental images). Do you have trouble knowing how much detail to add to a character or setting for readers? Are there any tricks/methods you use when creating new settings?
Wow. Yes. When I was first starting to write and use a critique group, I didn't know I had aphantasia. My writing peers would tell me my dialogue was solid but that I wrote "floating heads in black boxes." It took me a long time to understand that my preference is for spare description when I'm reading and when I'm writing.
I could never understand why writers - especially of fantasy - would spend so much time on lavish, flowing descriptions of setting. My reaction was to page flip until something happened. I 'got' that we were in a forest after the first paragraph, but then the writer kept on describing. It was painful for me to read. Impossible for me to write, even if I wanted to.
I had to find a compromise that included visual description in a way that felt authentic to the reader. I would spend time looking at things in the world and practice describing them. I would ask readers if they had enough grounding in visual description. My husband is hypervisual, where I am not visual at all. I often ask him to read my drafts to make sure I include enough for the reader.
My first drafts are still very light on description and heavy on dialogue and movement. For whatever reason, I find it easier to use visual description through the eyes of my characters than in exposition.
What solidified your decision to be an independent author? What do you like most about going indie?
I had gone the traditional route and managed to sign with a literary agent in 2008. She went out on submission with 3 of my novels but wasn't able to make a sale, despite glowing rejection letters from many of the big 6 editors. Because I had managed a solo physical therapy practice for many years, I was familiar with running a business. I was also very computer/tech savvy and comfortable with html and css. So creating my own imprint and publishing my work was a good fit.
I love the creative control and I have amazing partners in my publication journey, including my cover artist and editor.
You make beautiful ceramic pieces as a hobby. Does the inspiration/creative process for ceramics fuel your writing? Why or why not?
Part of my drive to do ceramics is to have an artistic outlet where I can let go of my need to be perfect. If you've ever wrestled to center 5 pounds of sloppy clay on a wheel, you'll understand that! It's also something I do at a communal studio, so I can be with other artists. That's a needed balance to the long stretches I'm alone at the keyboard with only my characters for company. It's also a truism that my best ideas come to me when my hands are in the clay and I can't possibly stop to write them down! In a lot of ways, clay is even a better fit for me than writing as it's a very kinesthetic endeavor.
However, if you think it's hard being a writer and making a living, talk to a ceramics artist!
What are the best aspects of writing a series of novels? What are the worst? Do you prefer writing a novel in a series or a stand-alone novel?
The best aspects of writing a series? Getting to stay with familiar characters and watch them grow. I don't struggle to find their voices as I move into a new story. The characters are just there, waiting for me. The most difficult? Making sure I don't screw up on continuity issues. By the time a story makes it to publication, my head is crammed with multiple versions of events. I can't always remember which version is the one that ultimately made it into the book and which was cut. Which is why keeping a series 'bible' is so critical.
I don't really prefer one over the other. Writing a stand alone allows the writer to have a greater degree of closure on a story and sometimes that's the story that wants to be written.
Short stories (you say) are the hardest for you to write. Why is that? What form of writing do you find the most rewarding?
Yes. They are! I think, just as in the running world, there are people who are natural sprinters (short story writers) and those who are more comfortable as marathoners (novel writers). There's something about planning the long arc of a plot that is my natural writing rhythm. I envy those writers who are good at both.
My hard drive is full of abandoned snippets of short stories. Of all of the short fiction I've written, there are about a dozen I think of as successful. I still poke at it because some stories aren't novel-length projects and the short story is a beautiful format.
The irony is that my first writing love was the ultra condensed: poetry. And I still return to it often.
Who are your literary influences/favorite writers? (They need not be disabled/neurodivergent.)
My literary influences include the sci fi writers I loved as a child: Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, Ray Bradbury and Madeline L'Engle. The books they wrote became my companions and my comfort as I grew up.
My favorite contemporary writers include Patricia McKillip (her prose is magical and lyrical), Lois McMaster Bujold (I have read and re-read the Vorkosigan books so many times!), Mary Oliver (an amazing poet. Read "Wild Geese"), and Rick Wayne (his characters are iconoclastic and he does some incredible things subverting genre tropes. And we're working on a co-writing project, so you should definitely read his work!)
How do you deal with the (inevitable) negative reviews? Any advice for the rest of us?
Yeah. Negative reviews. They happen. It's inevitable. While the best thing is not to read reviews, it's almost impossible for me not to. I don't like to admit it, but a negative review will send me sulking. But only for a little while.
Not everyone will love your books. That's okay. I find great comfort in reading the reviews of my very favorite books - ones I consider classics or must-haves on your bookshelf - and find excoriating one and two star reviews. It's subjective. There are books, shows, and movies that people rave about and I just don't like them.
Ideally, the negative reviews are because the book is garnering attention outside of its typical audience. That's good! It means it's reaching a wider readership. Chalk it up to that and keep writing!
Biography: LJ (Lisa Janice) Cohen is a poet, novelist, blogger, ceramics artist, local food enthusiast, Doctor Who fan, and relentless optimist. She lives just outside of Boston with her family, two dogs (only one of which actually ever listens to her) and the occasional international student. When not doing battle with her stubborn Jack Russell Terrier mix (aka "other dog") or hanging out with her lab/hound mix (aka "good dog"), LJ can be found writing, which looks a lot like daydreaming. She writes SF, Fantasy, and YA novels under the name LJ Cohen.
Friday, August 25, 2017
Here are some ways horror is actually terrible:
1. Serial Killers are a popular subgenre in horror novels and movies. And, we all know who the killers turn out to be 85% of the time… people with Schizophrenia, Autism, PTSD, and Dissociative Identity Disorder. You can never have a killer who is just a bad person. No. They have to have some type of neuordivergence which makes them “apathetic machines”, or unable to discern hallucination from reality. Because “normal” people don’t hurt others without reason, right?
2. Supernatural horror novels, especially those having a possession or haunting plot, run the risk of a surprise twist. The twist? The protagonist is actually hallucinating the whole thing! Yes, the “twist” becomes the neurodivergence. Because the lives of neurodivergent people are fodder for the neurotypical audience.
3. The victim is to be pitied and rooted for extra-hard because he/they/she is Blind or Deaf. It isn’t enough to make a creature/demon/situation nearly insurmountable; the author is using the absence of one sense to being a new terror to readers. Because everyone is even MORE helpless if they can’t hear or see. That’s why no one who has lost one sense ever manages to live alone or do things everyone else does. (Sarcasm)
4. A group of people investigate an asylum because mentally ill and/or disabled people are frightening, moreso than old buildings. We’re vile, so vile our spirits haunt the last place we lived just to torment people who weren’t given our disadvantages. Oh, come the fuck on!
5. The person in the wheelchair (or with a limp) has been an agent of Satan in more than one book I’ve read. Possibly, the author is trying to get readers to think the villain couldn’t possibly be that sweet, little cripple in the corner. Or, perhaps, writers still buy into the stereotype of dark souls manifesting “incomplete or twisted” bodies.
6. An amputee, person with heavy scarring, someone with severe edema, etc. used for “ick” factor. Even though this is a tactic used more often in film, it still makes an occasional appearance in books. It isn’t enough to add extreme blood and gore, now body variation becomes endurance for the squeamish. Poor babies.
I’ve probably missed more than a few examples, but these are what spring to mind when I think about horror novels.
Oddly, I can’t think of too many examples of disability and neuordivergence done right in scary books, which is a shame.
What tropes about disability and neurodivergence in horror do you wish would never be written again?
Friday, August 18, 2017
I will still (at times) "edit for" trolls, especially when they're trying to sound intellectually superior to someone else. Truly smart people don't flaunt their intelligence to make others feel inferior (and most people who try such a thing tend to have atrocious spelling).
However, I won't give unsolicited editing to acquaintances. It's a crappy thing to do to someone who is just sharing random thoughts with the world. I even considered my behavior trolling, once I looked at it closely. A person on Facebook might not have English as a first (or even third) language. A disabled person might not have the dexterity to type flawlessly. Creative spelling and punctuation could be a conscious choice. Mistakes can happen to anyone.
There is a time for editing words. At the wrong time, it becomes annoying and hurtful. I'm thankful I realized it years ago... I'd be insufferable on Twitter!
Have you ever corrected someone's grammar or spelling on social media? If so, why?
Friday, August 11, 2017
|Photo: Jeannine Hall Gailey|
Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it? If not, why not?
You came back to poetry during a time of illness, when your previous career path wasn't sustainable. What was your official diagnosis and how did writing affect your outlook on your diagnosis/symptoms?
You write fairly often about changes in the (female) body, often with fantastical elements. Has your relationship with your body influenced this interest? If so, in what way?
One of the recurring themes in my work is the horrifying, the grotesque, and the monstrous - probably because I've always identified myself as a real-life mutant and being female is already treated as somewhat grotesque and monstrous by our culture. Selkies, mermaids, and dragons, in particular, repeatedly appear in my work. I also explore the tropes of comics - how supervillains are often portrayed as having mutations, illnesses/deformities/things that keep them in wheelchairs. I think if I didn't feel like quite so much of a medical mystery, I might not be quite so interested in these tropes.
Readers of your speculative poetry reach out to you more often than literary poetry readers. Why do you think that is? Do you think "genre-snobs" are less of an issue in poetry than in fiction?
How important to you is the form/style a poem takes? Is there a form/type of poem you'd never try?
You served as poet laureate of Redmond, Washington. Was the appointment a surprise? What was the most unexpected part of the position?
Who are your literary influences/favorite writers? (They need not be disabled/neurodivergent.)
What is the worst piece of advice you've ever received on writing/publishing? Did you take the advice? If so, what happened?
You're writing a nonfiction book about PR just for poets. Why is it so important for a guide to be written specifically for them? Do you think a lot of books about marketing/branding leave poets out?
Friday, August 4, 2017
I made a few updates to the Literary Links of Interest and the Inclusive Mainstream Publications lists.
On Literary Links of Interest I added:
The Healing Muse
Thanks to Erica Verrillo who runs the fabulous blog: Publishing ... and Other Forms of Insanity for a couple of these.
Plus the following hashtags were added:
#DisLit and #WriteDis
On the Inclusive Mainstream Publications I added:
The online literary magazine BODY
The speculative fiction publication VOICES
Well, those are the updates. As always, if you have more recommendations, please let me know.
In late 2017 (or early 2018), I will be adding a tab on this site just for inclusive mainstream presses.
Friday, July 28, 2017
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
The ripples through the disabled community were widespread. It was horrific and sad. But, it didn't surprise us. Ableist beliefs have lead to the deaths of our people before...
A year has gone by. No updates about the survivors are readily available.
A year has gone by. No details on any increase in security have manifested online.
A year has gone by. We still don't know their names.
It almost makes it unreal, to not have names or faces. The public isn't owed the information. But, are the victims owed the acknowledgement? Shouldn't they be worth more media coverage than a vile piece of scum?
A year has gone by. And we still remember.
Friday, July 21, 2017
This book has disability done well. It covers mobility impairment, PTSD, and learning disability.
Author Bio: Leigh Bardugo is the #1 New York Times bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom and the Grisha Trilogy: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising. She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently, makeup and special effects. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.
Friday, May 19, 2017
A couple of minor plot points felt like they didn’t really lend much to the story, but that’s all I can really say in regards to negatives.
Friday, May 12, 2017
The $500 Diverse Writers grant is intended to support new and emerging writers from underrepresented and underprivileged groups, such as writers of color, women, queer writers, disabled writers, working-class writers, etc. — those whose marginalized identities may present additional obstacles in the writing / publishing process.
The $500 Diverse Worlds grant is intended for work that best presents a diverse world, regardless of the writer’s background.
Writers can apply for both grants, if they want/fit the criteria.
The Inclusive Mainstream Publications tab has been updated with every resource we have available. The literary/periodical section now has thirty-two entries. The most recent ones are: Teen Vogue, Magma Poetry Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, Polychrome Ink, Cosmonauts Avenue, The Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed READER.
We'd love to add more places! Please let us know if you can recommend any others.
Reminder: We are open for submissions of guest posts and book reviews. Pay is $3 via Paypal.
Books reviewed must have a disabled/neurodivergent main character and/or a disabled/neurodivergent author.
Guest posts must be about writing/books and disability/neurodivergence. A post about writing through brain fog, for instance, counts. A post about training guide dogs doesn't... unless you can tie it back to writing, somehow.
We are also looking for writers/editors to interview.
Friday, May 5, 2017
As a reader:
As a reviewer:
As a writer:
Friday, April 28, 2017
Next week, we'll hopefully have a larger update for the Inclusive Mainstream Publications page. That is, if brain fog or chronic pain doesn't keep us from it.
Final note: Found this listed on the Writers and Poets with Disabilities Facebook group and thought it might benefit some of you to have it listed here.
Stormé DeLarverie writing residency for under-represented writers (writers of color, both American and international, including Native peoples, as well as, disabled people, and those who identify as LGBTQ+).
An honorarium of $500 will accompany the residency.
The application fee is $15.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
He's sick. He's mentally ill. We should pity him, really. He's just like them.
No. He isn't. Don't twist it so that he's "a victim himself". To describe a horrible person's actions as mental illness harms the disabled/neurodivergent community. We needed the focus on the true victims. Things like ableism are due to ignorance, hatred... but not mental illness. This attitude makes it easier for future violence against disabled/neurodivergent people because it paints us into "the volatile other".
Then, there are the people on the perpetrator's side, people who see disabled people as having a partial life (as though having no life is more merciful-- better than having limits). People who see disabled people as leeches who give nothing to the world.
The people who think disabled/neurodivergent people don't deserve something as vital as breath scare me. People who don't see the humanity in others should scare everyone.
All these months later, and I still haven't found one update on the survivors. I haven't heard if any new security measures were added to care centers. No one outside of the disabled community spoke up after the attack beyond the usual words of "terrible", "tragic", "poor people", or similar.
Maybe things changed that I didn't hear about because I'm in America. Maybe people are more protected now. I can hope that's the case-- hope and remember what happened.
Friday, April 21, 2017
Friday, April 14, 2017
About halfway through the conversation, I paused. Someone said something to the effect of, "Writers with Bipolar and Depression aren't real disabled writers because the nondisabled populace is accepting and supportive of them and people expect writers to be depressed."
So, some people being (somewhat) more supportive in certain circumstances and in certain ways negates a disabled and/or neurodivergent writer's needs? Negates their disability and/or neurodivergence entirely? Makes their creative output not part of the disability community? What utter bullshit!
The sentiment that Condition X, Diagnosis Y, or Disability Z is not as deserving because it's supposedly not as stigmatized smacks of Oppression Olympics. People with mental illnesses and/or neurodivergences are often not believed, not taken seriously, and so on. Wishing for a bigger spotlight on disabled/neurodivergent writers is a good thing, wanting to steal another person's candle because you consider them not as worthy is shitty.
Why the hell are we spending time bitching about the faint light our neighbors may be getting and not banding together to procure larger portions for us all? Focus your energy and frustration on creating something better, not destroying someone else. We are all in this together. This is our community, enrich it!
One last note: There is NO hierarchy of disability/neurodivergence. People who acquire their disability/neurodivergence are not "better" than those who were born with theirs. Physical disabilities aren't more chic than cognitive ones. Quit that.
Friday, April 7, 2017
Many disabled/neurodivergent writers can't write every day for various reasons. Telling a disabled writer with migraines the week he can barely function should be spent writing is damaging. It tells him (and the rest of us) we're not dedicated, that it's a moral failing and we'll never reach our goals because we are too lazy. It might cause us to hate ourselves or push ourselves until the point of injury.
2. Nothing beats a pen and paper. Get away from the screen.
And what about writers who can't write longhand? Some of us can't hold a pen, much less compose a novel with one. Every rule that states there is only one way to do something is almost always wrong and excludes a bunch of people.
3. Keep a journal.
Journaling can be a healthy outlet and a primer for future words. But it can also take the little bit of time someone with chronic illness has to devote to their current project away from them. A person might only have two days a week (or less) where they feel good enough to write. The focus should be on where the writer needs it most.
4. Never take more than X amount of time for Y project.
Why? Why does a task have an expiration date (if not trying to meet an editor's deadline)? Even the people who give this kind of rule can't agree with one another on time limits. How long is writing the first draft of a novel supposed to take-- three month, a year?
A lot of writers use these as a yardstick to measure their success. If it takes them longer... they feel like a failure.
5. Seek advice on your work... and act on it. (Said at points with no caveats.)
Another set of eyes on a writer's work is helpful. Telling people to trust that someone else automatically knows the work better than they do is not helpful. Some people have confidence and/or social issues that make a blanket statement about near absolute trust almost dangerous.
I could go on with these.
Many writers admit there are few (to zero) rules of writing that can't be broken.
Write when you can, as true as you can. Learn new things when you get the chance. Read in whatever format works (braille, audio, large print, etc.). The rest will come.
Friday, March 31, 2017
"But they haven't been told/covered by you," another replies.
We know this exchange between writers. One person states the first line, often as a lament, while the other leans on their crutches in determination (or cheer) and recites the second.
Once the battle is won within the self, the writer begins the work for themselves (and their readers). Then, the waiting public can start the doubts all over again.
Minority authors (and women) often face the Already Been Done (ABD) criticism from many types of people interacting with their work, regardless of how unique the concept is or how beautiful the prose. A book about a disabled artist? It's been written. Coming out as homosexual in the Bible Belt of America? Got it covered! Yet another cancer story? We have enough.
If one well-known piece of literature exists pertaining to a struggle or life of a minority person, people consider it Already Been Done and discard it as such. A lot of the same people dismissive of these stories will generally applaud another coming-of-age story about a (cishet, white, neurotypical, etc.) guy. Why is one "unimaginative and derivative" but the other is "paramount literature"?
It stops people from telling the stories they want to tell, from books and essays getting to the readers who need to know they aren't alone or that they're valuable enough to write about. It also gives everyone less variety to choose from.
If you receive feedback that your work has been written before:
1. Consider the titles the person lists in comparison. Are they recent? Do they have your slant, or just your topic? How is their writing style? Analyze.
This will (mostly) put your fears to rest.
2. Consider the source. Do they have varied tastes? Are they outright dismissive of you and/or your work (maybe a bit cruel)? How many times have you been told this, just once by this person or by five different people? What is their background?
Always find multiple people to give you opinions, never let one person deflate the passion you possess. If nearly everyone you trust tells you that your story is too much like another, examine it then. Maybe you just aren't taking the right slant or you're distancing yourself from the hard parts.
Remember: There are no truly original ideas anymore, but there are original "voices". Use yours.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Friday, March 24, 2017
"Participation is simple: submit the work of your choice to the outlets of your choice during this weekend, and disclose (in whatever way feels most comfortable / authentic for you) your disability / illness in your cover letter. Submit as many or as few pieces as you choose, and to as many or as few outlets as you'd like."
It takes place on April 8th and 9th and was started by Cade Leebron.
There are many ways to find potential places to submit your work. I hope you are getting work into the world, with or without participating in this event.
The website lists other funding opportunities, but not the dates. So, check it on occasion.
2. The Submerging Writer Fellowship offers one writer $500 to go towards AWP 18 conference expenses, a limited chapbook run, a launch party at the conference, and more. This is open to most writers, not just minority writers (though you must have a statement on why you're a submerging writer). The deadline is August 31st.
I realize The AWP Conference (and organisation) is problematic for disabled and neurodivergent writers. Some go, regardless. I'm just listing a chance for those who may want to try for it.
Friday, March 17, 2017
Friday, March 10, 2017
I went for years without mentioning my disability in my cover letter. While I put it on my social media profiles, I knew most editors wouldn't check the links in my biography. I didn't worry about it affecting anyone's decision on my work.
My old biography: Jennifer Ruth Jackson can't draw or act so she writes poems and short stories. Her work has been published in Diverse Voices Quarterly, Kaleidoscope Magazine, and more. When she's not writing, you can catch her playing video games or making jewelry. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and their houseplant, Hubey.
It felt safer to me that way. No one could claim I was using my Cerebral Palsy (and other disabilities/conditions) to sway an editor's opinion and editors were less likely to discriminate. But, it didn't make me feel I was representing my true self. I am not my disability, but it shapes me and makes me who I am.
I really enjoy seeing disabled/neurodivergent writers in print. There is a tiny thrill each time I come across a piece by "one of us". It reminds me that I am not alone, that I am not a magic cripple who is the last of her kind. In a world where nondisabled/neurotypical writers claim most of the spots in literary magazines and presses, it is vital to see one another succeed. It's also good for nondisabled/neurotypical readers.
So, to that end, I wrote a new biography. It does not outright say I'm disabled, but it does.
My new biography: Jennifer Ruth Jackson is an award-winning poet and fiction writer whose work has appeared in Verse Wisconsin, Kaleidoscope Magazine, and more. She runs a blog for disabled and/or neurodivergent writers called The Handy, Uncapped Pen from an apartment she shares with her husband. Follow her on Twitter @jenruthjackson
The mention of this blog (while possibly shameless publicity) will lead most editors to the correct conclusion... that I'm disabled. I wanted to broach the subject without framing it in a way that would elicit pity or conflicting emotions.
Maybe, if I'm not afraid to proclaim my disability status, it will encourage others to begin writing or take a chance on the publishing industry. Even if it doesn't, it still feels like I'm putting a truer version of myself out into the world. And that alone is worth it.
Friday, March 3, 2017
I started this thought yesterday on Twitter. What follows is a sort of illustration, generously sent to me for this blog. The author doesn't mind if you take this for fiction, as long as you take it seriously.
At The Handy, Uncapped Pen... you (and your work) are valued. If I ever make you feel differently. please let me know why. I want this to be a resource and a community. Conversation should be part of this.
As always, feel free to contact us.
My father doesn't "get" my work. He's supportive, I guess, but doesn't want to read it. He says I'll be famous someday. If I do work he thinks will get me there. Nah. I can't. Won't. I don't write that way.
My older sisters are aloof-to-passively-hostile about my career choice. One is better than the other, a cold momma bear, she encourages rarely but in lavish fashion. The sister between us nearly never has a kind word. Picks each success apart.
Fitting in places isn't something I do. Attempts are made and recede quick. I've never found a group to share triumphs with, torn between relief and wishing. Support from family, few friends, wasn't much beyond congratulatory back-pats on acceptances.
One person in my life goes beyond. Is always there for me as artist and human. Luck smiles. It is luck. People don't even get that, at times, the one who believes in them with unshaken faith.
I told my family I'm ace. Finally. It's taken forever to identify. I held off. I'm married, no one has to know besides my spouse. I told them, still. They laughed it off, mocked me. Asexuals don't exist for them. Doesn't help my case that I'm married, have and talk about sex. Ace people can't be married. They're all celibate. It hurt.
Makes me question everything, again. My brain screams they're right. I don't "act" asexual. I have sex. I enjoy romantic love. It took me years to figure out why certain things don't affect me. Why I don't "act/feel normal" when it's normal to me. Ten minutes erased years. I won't label myself as ace to people. Won't take that, again.
Wheelchair-users can't go everywhere, always. The AWP Conference is one of the largest gatherings for writers. Can't go. Money is one issue. Lack of accessibility is the kick. It says people like me are unwelcome. People like me aren't worth notice. Are we writers? No one cares but us. The world has enough writers.
There isn't a true organization for disabled writers right now. Not in the way there is for LGBT writers, Asian writers. Groups for Native American writers and all the rest, usually can't/won't accommodate disabled people of their minority.
The disability community often isn't great for including people with intersectional identities. I'm white, but I notice how we can be. Look at what happened with #DisabilityTooWhite. It became all about us white people.
The disabled writing community can most easily include intersectional writers with disabilities. We'd be set for it. All we'd have left is to not be assholes. We can manage.
We'd rock our own space.