Time Flies When You’re Having Fun Torturing

Another two months has passed – oi vey, where has the time gone. A lot has happened over the last few months that have kept us busy and our heads spinning. Between our writing, family issues, her full time job and other things, some days we don’t know if we are coming or going. I think her head has finally stopped spinning but don’t quote me on that.

My novel is progressing nicely but as usual when I reach a certain point in my writing, God places something in my life that slows me down. Sometimes, I wished God would stop putting obstacles in my way. It gets old proving to me and others; I can make it through what God puts in my path. It gets quite frustrating. As Towanna has pointed out to me, God doesn’t put anything in our path that we cannot handle. This, of course, is so true. I tend to provide myself with more pressure and obstacles than what really needs to be. I am an expert at taking an obstacle and making it a wall. I don’t need God’s help. I am really grateful that I have a loving family that endures my writer’s personality and attitudes. At any rate, I became Goliath and knocked down the wall and got pass the obstacles cast in my way.

Chapter five is now complete. It took longer than I anticipated. In this chapter, I entered into the female protagonist’s mind. Oh boy, I thought women were impossible to figure out on the surface. It is worse when entering their brain. Part of me wants the lead female character in the novel to hurry up and make up her mind but part of me ponders having her take her time. This could possibly lead to some tension. I know, I know – they say women are forever not making up their minds yet here I am doing the same thing. As Towanna read this she looked at me and said …. “Make up your mind already, you are driving me nuts.”

At this moment, the only thing I want to do is to be finished with this draft by Christmas. I am beginning to feel I can do it. LOL. Towanna is very happy to hear me thinking this way. She has known it is a possibility for a long time. She looked at me and told me – better late than never that I start believing in myself.

I am still researching augmentative and alternative communication devices – or AAC for short. They are so insanely expensive. I have found several I like – but not one that has all that I need. I still want to rely on my verbal speech but there are times that I just cannot communicate as effectively as I need to with others. God may have given me CP but he also gave me a voice and I want to use my voice as much as I can for as long as I can. As with any other writer, I have a large vocabulary that I want to be able to enter into the AAC. I need and want a device that can accept vast vocabulary as fast as I can feed it. There are some software products that can eventually learn my speech pattern but they take forever. Hmmm, is my impatience coming into play here? At any rate, I look forward to the day they make an AAC that I can use that has all I need. I usually let mom or Towanna be my mouth piece but I am going to continue to search for an AAC so that I can become more independent. Today’s world is just too fast paced for me to keep up with. People just don’t have the time nor do they want to slow down to listen closely enough to me.  Maybe then, I will stop getting the stares and the cruel words that I sometimes here. But then, I am the same way at times. I can be just as unforgiving to myself as other people are to me.

About three months ago, I stumbled on a program called Dasher. For over a month, I whined, moaned and complain about the program. Sometimes I would get so mad at it. Finally, Towanna told me to stop the bitching. She informed me that sometimes a new program can be hard to get use to but it is worth it in the end. I am so glad that I settled down and allowed the program to show me what it was made of. I have found Dasher allows me to communicate a lot faster and better so it is not so embarrassing for my mom or me when I try to communicate with others. I use it for everything now. Once and a while, I do the old fashion concept of fingers typing out letters but the more I get use to Dasher the more I rely on it. The best feature on it is their word prediction. I am so in love with in. (Sorry Towanna another gal is in town that I love – laughs.) Dasher is making my life simpler and gives me more time for other things. I wished this program was available when I was in high school. Oh – the doors it could have possibly opened for me.

If anyone is interested in exploring either program the links are: http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/dasher/ and http://www.naturalreaders.com. The only advice I have for anyone who explores either program is to be patient and take your time. It is well worth it.

Another program I have found is called Natural Reader. It is a program that reads text by using a computer generated voice. The voice sounds as natural as my mothers or Towanna’s does. If you ever were in the same room as someone using this program, you would turn around to see whose voice it was. I am proud of myself for not giving up and continuing to find programs and items that make me more independent.

My next bit of news was quite a pleasant surprise to me. It seems that the writing bug has now bitten my baby brother. Oh lord helps this family – two writers in one family going to definitely drive everyone insane. All kidding aside now – Andrew sent me a poem he had written. Wow – I was blown away. He definitely has a talent that he has been keeping hidden from all of us. When I heard him reading this poem, my first thought was that he should enter it into a poetry contest. He had written a beautiful, heart touching piece.  One day, while on Skype with Andrew, we got to talking and we decided that we will be writing a children’s book together. It already has a great start – and no Towanna, I won’t be giving anything away to you. LOL. Andrew – just a bit of advice from your big brother – while it’s fun to drive your woman insane – I don’t advise it. Towanna is already on the verge of buying a strait-jacket for me. I am very lucky Towanna deals with my workaholic binges but I doubt Victoria would be so patient. Pace yourself and balance everything out. LOL. Oh and Andrew – welcome to the Asylum.

I have recently attended the ConCarolinas in Charlotte, N.C.  I left this past Friday and returned on Sunday evening. It was very long days but well worth it. It gave mom and I both some great quality mother/son time. The drive there was beautiful – especially going over the Smokey Mountains. I know Towanna would have had us stop every mile so she could get out and enjoy the view. We arrived there just in time to get me registered for the next days’ events and get settled into our hotel room. I don’t know who was asleep first Friday night – we were both so tired from the drive. Saturday was a brand new day. I listen to five panel discussions about writing. Also, I sat through a reading by David Drake. They were very informative and I learn a lot. I saw some great authors – Faith Hunter, David B. Coe, Misty Massy and others. I just wished I would have not been so worried about my speech disability and went up to them to say hi. After the panels were over and the reading completed, mom and I went to dinner. Afterwards, we retired to our rooms for some zombie time. We ordered a piece of double decker red velvet cake. I sacrificed my blood sugar level for the sake of job security for that baker. What else could I do? It was good going down and I do not regret an ounce of what I ate. Mom and I stayed up to the wee hours of the morning watching movies and having a great time. On Sunday we got up and headed home. I couldn’t wait to get home and back with my Towanna. I missed her so much. When I got online, I found out just how much she missed me. I thought she had become an offensive lineman while I was gone. She tackled me so hard and fast before I could even say hi. Imagine that – someone missed me while I was gone.  I want to say thank you very much to my mother for taking time out of her busy schedule to take me. Thanks Mom!!!

Speaking of Towanna – what can I say? She is the most angelic, innocent, caring, giving person I know. LOL – I know, I know, she is the devil in disguise but she is my Bearsy and a very busy one at that. She is one hard working woman. I might have to take her to a convention one day just to get her to slow down. At this point, I think it would take me walking to her and sitting on her to slow her down.

Towanna finally has been able to open the coworking center legally. It was a long time coming but well worth the wait. Now, begins the advertising to get clients in. We both feel that it will begin to grow in leaps and bounds. I cannot wait until Florida is taken care of so she can move back to Bowling Green, Ky and get one started here. Yes I must admit – I want her here for me more than anything else. She is slowly but surely catching up in her course work for her class. It is not as easy as she thought it would be. She is struggling but somehow managing an A average so far. She has managed to begin writing and editing here and there. It is not as much time spent on it as she desires but she does do her best. She is hoping to get caught up on her part with in the next two months. I don’t see how she goes like she does but she does. She is definitely a go-getter. Once she starts something, she refused to give up until it is done.

In addition to her work, course and writing, she has had a full plate with family issues and other things. I did not realize how much she carries until I sat her down and had a long talk with her. She finally admitted that the daily pain she lives in has increased and the medication is not working any longer. On top of that, a longtime friend since elementary school past away. These two have been inseparable since they day they met. I am forever and a day trying to convince her to put her work and course first – the writing can wait but she doesn’t listen to me. Every day, her feet hit the floor and she talks off running (as the saying goes) and doesn’t stop until late at night. I know one day she will slow down – I just hope it sooner than later. She is highly stressed right now but I have learned that she will stop catch her breath then go right back to life. She claims that she is taking a vacation from June 30 through the 4th of July but I will believe that when I see it.

My intention was to do monthly blogs. However, time flew so fast the past two months it was half way through May before we realized I never did April’s blog.  Such is life. The blog is now done. (Towanna is clapping her hands on that.) I promise to be more attentive to the time to get my monthly blogs out on the last day of the month for now on. Outside of research and writing on my novel, I have not set any additional goals for myself. I believe Towanna’s goals are to get advertising done and clients in her center get caught up with her course work and do some more writing/editing this month. We are both hoping to spend at least one day on line catching up on our chat and with her giving me my UK spanking that she normally does when we play QWERTY.

We would like to wish family, friends and our readers a great, safe and happy summer. Please be careful when outdoors. Make sure you stay hydrated. Work outside in the morning or late evening and use sunblock.

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Can We Have a Word?

In Junior High, I realized I had a talent for writing. It was a very easy source of communicating efficaciously so I latched on to it with both hands and didn’t let it go. For a short time, in my late teens, I put writing to the side to go off into the world to fulfill a dream that I had of being a computer scientist. After fate stepped in, I returned home and reflected on what I was going to do with my life.  After a short period of time, I found writing once again and that is what I have been doing ever since.

I feel my true disability is not my CP but my speech impediment. Sure, having CP, does have its disadvantages, but growing up I thought I was normal. I couldn’t walk – so what. I still was able to get around to places I needed to go. What slowed me down was that unless a person knew me well; communicating was a pain in the ass. I found the world of online chat rooms and communication and it opened a whole new world for me. Currently, I am working on getting a communication device that all I have to do is type it in and hit one button and it says verbally what I have typed.

Why is this so important to me? Well, the fact that it is portable and can go anywhere and everywhere I go is one reason. I won’t have to worry about someone understanding my speech; nor will I have to rely on the person I am with to translate for me. This will give me more freedom and independence; which is something I have always longed for.

For too long, I have allowed my speech problems to create a hermit and loner with in me.  I have to get use to the idea I have tools on hand that can help me evolve into a productive person. In order to get my novel published, I have to write. In order for the novel to sell, I have to get out amongst the fans. Therefore, it is long overdue that I find ways to do that instead of hiding in the shadows.

As I said earlier, I had allowed my disability to create a person within me that I don’t want to be.  In 2008, I went to my first convention and I learned that writers do more then write. They have readings, book signings, blogs, and network to name a few. They get out there among the people and socialize. This was my wake up call to get my ass in gear and do something about my inability to communicate properly. While my speech impediment is still my greatest disability, I am now taking steps to overcome it.

While I often wonder where I would be in life if I had become a computer scientist, I am happy and content how my life is now. I am a writer and a damn good one at that. I have a great source of support through Towanna, my family, and friends. I know my readers will want to see me and talk to me. I used to think I could avoid that, but now I see how unfair it would be not only to my readers but to me as well.

I know, without a doubt, I was destined to become a writer. Sure I avoided it for a few years but I knew there was no escaping it. I am glad fate stepped in. I had a character in my head that would not let me alone.  Surely, this character would have driven me insane (more insane than I already am) if I avoided him. As most writers say once you have one character stuck in your head, more will show up eventually even if you don’t want them to.  I am one of the lucky few that wants characters to crowd my head until my last dying breath.

My advice to writers who have a speech impediment or any other disability is to find what will work for you. It will be hard work; at times, it will seem like you are fighting a losing battle, and you will become frustrated with the journey that you will want to give up but don’t.  It is well worth it in the end.  Those with disabilities can still write and have best sellers just like any other writer; we just have to work harder at it, and that is ok.  Just believe in yourself and your work, and great things will come your way.  Our fans will love us for it.

The Accountability is the Key

The novels Towanna and I will write are character-driven. By character driven, I mean the character is the power behind the plot moving forward. With that comes the deepest of need for the writer to be held accountable for open communication and honesty between the novel and writer. By accountability, I mean the writer is responsible for telling the story the way it should be written not formalistically.

I feel that character-driven novels can and sometimes do pick up the personality of the writer. In this current project we are working on, we are trying to make the main character as open and honest as Towanna and I are. Our main character tends to be fallacious every chance he gets. He likes surprising us every now and again. His voice needs to be heard. We want his voice heard, but at the same time, we are the writers and we must maintain some control.

Many that know me will think my character is just as crazy as I am. Even Towanna often thinks I am nuttier then a fruit cake when we discuss our projects – so who knows. I hope that we do not make this main character nuttier the main character in The Shining turned out to be. One insane person in this trio is more than enough. LOL

I feel very strongly that I must cooperate with my character as he comes out from the dark corners of my mind and hits the screen. While I know he is a creation of ours, to me, he is still a person that deserves respect. He has a few serious issues that he is working on throughout in this novel. It is our responsibility to allow him the time and space to solve his own problems.

As I said, I feel that characters can achieve the personality of the writer. In this project, I am finding the main character can be as stubborn as I am known to be. He tends to fight back when we are pushing him forward. He can be the biggest uncooperative bastard I know. We give him the time and space that he needs then we begin to push him forward. Our main character has always thought that I am stubborn and now he has met Towanna. Towanna can dig her feet in and hold her ground better than our main character and I put together. When we are ready to move on, if I can’t get our character into the forward march mode, Towanna does.

If a writer is not held accountable for his character’s actions, the story falls dead in the water then
it won’t sell. It is a delicate balance between everything a writer is responsible for and how it is written in the novel. When I sit down and type out the first draft then look back, I have found times where the writing can be salvaged and times it can’t be. I know if I hear Towanna groan when she reads what I have written, that there is a major lack of something in what I have accomplished and that a long tour of duty in the word mine is in my near future.

Every story that an author writes teaches him/her a new technique or valuable lesson.  Our current project has taught me to be accountable for my work and the well-being of our main character. This novel is teaching me to have patience and understanding. Another very lesson I have learned so far, is that I can work through the difficult scenes. I have become quite the procrastinator and stubborn over the last twenty years when it came too hard to write scenes.

I know I have to hold myself accountable for what I say, do and write in life – especially in my novel. The most valuable lesson I have learned was to ensure that my disability is considered in all things. I feel I have grown a lot as a writer this year thanks to the great support network I have. I also learned that while I am disabled, I shouldn’t use it as an excuse to procrastinate or ignore things I need to do to get this novel written.

Going Into the Mine, Don’t Forget Your Dictionary: Writing With a Disability, Part One

Today, I am going to focus on the beginning of a series of blogs about writing with a disability. For those who are do not know me, I have Cerebral Palsy (I will shorten it to CP for now on). Basically, CP is brain damage. It affects physical and language developments. There are three kinds of CP: 1. walking, 2. mild and 3. severe.  My CP falls under the second category. I am wheelchair bound due to the physical part of CP. When I was in junior high, I realized that my while my CP affected some of my language development it didn’t affect my creativity. To me, being slow at writing didn’t mean I couldn’t write. I know that I will always need some help to smooth over my writing, but I know without a doubt, that I will be a successful writer.

Being disabled, presents daily challenges that most people take for granted – from basic cares to taking a walk or shopping. Being a writer is no different. While every writer has their own method, each and every one of us has our own strengths and weaknesses. I have come to realize that having CP (or any other disability) adds an additional weakness. I work hard at not allowing my disability to slow my dream down. Recently, with the help of my co-writer, I have come to realize that I am my own writer and while I may not be able to do things like other writers do, I can effectively get my projects written. It will just take some slight modifications on my part and a wealth of accepting them.

This week I am going to focus on word counts. For the past decade, it has been drilled into me that the publishing business is all about word count — type, type, type then faster, faster, faster.  This world is filled with heavy demands of deadlines, guest appearance and readings. It is a hurry up and wait environment.  Most of which, even with my disability, I can meet. However, I need slight modifications and special assistance in some areas. Publishers have good reasons for their demands – to many to list at this time. I fully understand them but with an understanding agent and editor, I know, without a doubt, I will successfully publish many projects.

In my case, however, word counts are my ruination due to the fact, each and every time I place “word count” to my daily goals, I end up stressed out and having to stop writing for the session. Sometimes this leads to the end of my work day because it takes me a while to remove the stress that I put on myself. Towanna is helping me let go of all the unfair demands I place on myself and to set more reasonable goals and expectations. A decade long habit of demanding a word count daily, weekly, and monthly is going to be a damn hard habit to break.

Even as I work on pieces of writing where word count does not matter, such as blogging, I keep looking at my processor’s word count because of my uncontrollable urge to know what progress I have or have not made. Sometimes, I irritate myself over such actions. I try work through its’ rapture and not to allow it to consume me or affect my work but that is often easier said than done.

So to those of you out there, with or without disabilities, that has the desire or need to write, my suggestion to you is to read a lot of blogs on how other writers succeed in this craft then work your ass off to find what works for you. Don’t let a disability or anything else in life keep you from your dream of writing – just modify what is necessary then get BICHOK (butt in chair hands on keyboard) and march through the mines proudly to produce the piece of art that you know is deep inside of you waiting to get out.