Friday, September 27, 2019

Facebook Group for Disabled/Neurodivergent Poets

Yes, I know there is already a Facebook group for disabled poets and writers, but I'm thinking of creating a private group specifically for poets to get feedback on pieces and talk shop.  It would be like a cross between an MFA-type workshop (sans crying and one-upmanship) and a conversation with knowledgeable friends.  I think it would be useful, but others might not agree.

Is it something poets might be interested in?  Let me know!
Twitter:  @HandUnPen
You can also comment below.
Questions you might have:

1.  Why not a public group?
If poets post their work on a public forum, it's considered published.  Most literary magazines won't touch previously published work.

2.  Why poetry (and only poetry)?
I often see poetry shoved to the margins in craft books/blogs, writing magazines, and other resources.  Free classes in creative writing exist in abundance, but few of them are classes on poetry composition.  Plus, I am a poet.

3.  Why not a poetry group for everyone?
Disabled and neurodivergent poets are often silenced.  Our subject matter is frequently deemed "uncomfortable" or something our peers can't connect with.  I want a group where we don't have to stifle ourselves for the ableists' comfort.

4.  Do shared poems only have to be about disability/neurodivergence?
No, but there might be some topics that are off-limits or require a trigger warning.

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.