Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Diversity in writing Part 2

I am back writing about diversity in writing. Diversity is also about the authors who write the books. It is this that is the hot topic between authors because although BAME authors might get on the list for winning top awards, they might not win it in the end.

When I came to draft this post, I could only think of a few BAME authors who write for adults and children. As I write for children, I shall start with the few I have thought of.

Malorie Blackman, Patrice Lawrence, Catherine Johnson, Candy Gourlay, Chitra Soundar, Sarwat Chadda, Bali Rai.

After I drafted this post, I put a message on Facebook about this and got a few more names of children's authors in the Minor Ethnicity, and they are Jewish authors. Here they are: Keren David, Miriam Halahmy, Hilary Freeman, Judith Kerr, Meg Rosoff. It was raised that in traditional publishing authors might not be allowed by their publishers to write about Jewish events. Only a couple have recently.

For adults I could only think of Mike Gayle and Zadie Smith. If you can name more BAME authors who write for adults, let me know.

Next post will be another diversity post. Diversity is not just about BAME authors, there are disabled authors too, like me.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

An Aspie and her anxiety

My anxiety about going out has come back. I believe it is because after I had the kidney infection, I stayed indoors for over a week, with the only outside space I went to being the garden. I can go over the road to get the paper OK. But when I go shopping locally, I've felt my stomach flip with anxiety either before I go or within half an hour of being out. This causes an IBS flare up.

On Friday, I went shopping with my mum. I was fine before we went, so I thought that I would be OK. But, no, just as the bus got to the centre, I felt my stomach flip. I tried to put my anxiety into words; why did I feel anxious? I've been here before and I was OK. (Something I read to do in the current issue of Top Sante). It worked for a while but after walking round shops for half an hour, I had to stop. Luckily the centre has public toilets where I went. I was fine after that. It is so frustrating to me me and my mum as I feel that it spoils the shopping trip for us. I might have to sit for longer before I go out, or try the talking out my anxiety more. I hope to get back to normality soon.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

An Aspie in hospital

Two weeks ago it was my turn to be admitted to A&E. I suddenly got terrific pain in my left side, with a fever, feeling faint and being sick. It was a kidney stone passing down my kidney to my bladder that caused the pain (found that out last Friday) and a kidney infection. It was my first time in hospital knowing I have Asperger's. Here is how I coped or not.

In A&E I didn't think it was as noisy as I expected it to be. There was lots of people and light. From there I was taken to Urgent Care. I was in pain still and hot. There was a lot of people waiting. A couple of times I came over faint. When I was finally seen in triage, I was taken to Majors in A&E. And put into a cubicle. Comfort at last. And privacy as the staff closed the curtain. This helped shut out noise and lights. I saw staff go to and fro outside. I was mainly focussing on myself. Trying to feel comfortable with a dull pain, trying not to be sick and having to cope with nurses trying to get blood out of my right arm. Having been sick a lot, my blood had dried up and was too thick. I had to be put on a drip to get more fluids in. That was my left arm.

Then in the early hours of the next morning (just after 1.30am) I was wheeled into Clinical Decision Unit. What a difference! Even though it was early morning, it was darker and quieter, and I could only see one other patient there. I liked this, even though I was still not right and had a drip connected to me. The quiet calmed me down.

A couple of hours later I went for a CT scan to find out what was happening. I hated this as the corridors were dark then bright. Had to shut my eyes most of the time. The scan wasn't too bad.

My mum finally left about 6am as there wasn't any transport before that to get home.  A few hours later I went home in a hospital cab in one of their nighties and a blanket over me. Not very warm but was so pleased to get home.

Thankfully I am slowly on the mend now, and am back on my feet. I am taking painkillers to keep pain under control. I finished the course of antibiotics last week and was told that I don't need any more. I am limiting any foods with calcium and oxalates in as they are the two things that mostly form kidney stones. So nut products are limited as well as celery and berries.

Monday, 21 August 2017

More writing news

Following on from a previous post about what I want to write, there has been things happening in the womag land. Remember I said that I wasn't going to write for Woman's Weekly anymore? Well, it has transpired that there has been restructuring going on (rings a bell for me) and the whole fiction team have now left and replaced with one person, who people believe is a freelancer. They are not taking any new submissions at the moment, only stories from their regular contributors, until they are on top of things. I know this has upset a lot of people. I feel sorry for all involved; the fiction team and the contributors who had built up a relationship with them. I had met the fiction editor a few times when I had gone to workshops, and she was so nice. This now means that there is one less magazine out there that takes fiction.

So, what am I doing about it? I am finding other markets. I had already heard of one magazine based in South Africa that took new writers, so have sent a story to them and am waiting to hear if they will publish it as the editor has said she wants to keep it for possible use. Sounded promising. Am working on another story for that magazine. Have discovered a couple of other markets and will submit a story to one and an article to another; the latter takes stories and non-fiction about animals. My kind of magazine. Also, have decided to enter another story competition. I know which story I want to work on for that, one I have already written but needs a bit of an edit.

I will be working mainly on my children's books first, with the odd story now and then when I have the time.

So, when things like this happen, it is good to have a Plan B. Find other markets to send to. Other ways to make money.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

What is diversity in books

I always thought it meant different races and cultures eg Asian, Chinese etc and not just white characters written about. But since I've started writing about autistic children, I now know there is more to it. It can mean disabled children in books, not just physically disabled but hidden and invisible ones, too. Eg autistic children might look normal but they are not inside. Also, deafness and heart problems. They all affect people and are not visible, unless someone is wearing hearing aids.

There is another way to help diversity in writing, especially if you are an indie author like me. As well as writing about these different characters, you can choose which font to print in and how much space to have on the page, to make it easier for children with learning difficulties to read. My current children's books (The Rainbow School) has large font because I was told that was best for that age range (7-9s). When I published via Createspace, I found there were big spaces between some pages (where I had written long paragraphs which didn't fit on 1 page). I wasn't happy but then I got thinking. At the retreat in May, I sold a copy of Billy to a new friend, who bought it for her friend's daughter who was older than the target age but had learning difficulties. She liked the book. So, now I feel that even thought it wasn't intentional to have those gaps, it is a good thing to have, because it makes the books more accessible and available for a wider audience than I intended. I shall try to keep this in mind for the further children's books.

What does diversity mean to you with books?

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

What I really really want...to write

Over the last week I have been thinking a lot about writing for women's mags (womags) and how I feel about the market and how I have been getting on, or not. I have been trying to get stories accepted by both Woman's Weekly and The People's Friend, but have come up with rejection after rejection. I have now come to the conclusion that I am not cut out for those markets and am going to have a break from trying. The markets for women's short stories are getting fewer now, with Take A Break now only taking stories by their published authors. I have recently sent a Xmas story to an overseas magazine, so shall see what happens with that. I might try a few times with that magazine. I also might try to write a different genre, which I think I have mentioned before - sci-fi. I have a few ideas rattling around my brain for stories, just need to explore them more. I have sent a magical realism story to a digital magazine so shall see how that goes too.

I have realised there are a few genres that I do like writing: asper fiction (stories about children with Asperger's/autism who find confidence), ghosts and magical realism. So, I have already written and printed out a few stories for the first two genres, and have thought of the idea of putting them in a short story collection. Then they can go along and beside my other books and ebooks eg the shorts about ghosts can go beside my Geraldine's Gems ebook series that features a ghost, and can also be a prelude to a series I have about ghosts helping relatives. The Asper fiction shorts can go along side the Rainbow School series I am currently publishing and the other series' I have in mind. There will be a third genre - fiction that I think will be suitable for the overseas magazine. I have found one which I want to rewrite and cut half to get to the word count they want.

So, that is what I really really want to write. One other thing I found about trying to write for womags is that I didn't find it fun and enjoyable anymore. I like writing short stories but realising that maybe I wasn't cut out for it took that fun away for me. I want to get back to writing stories I want to write and have fun with.

I will let you know how it goes, esp with the stories I have out on submission.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Charlie is now on Amazon

Some exciting news, for me anyway. Charlie and the Captivating Cap, the second book in the Rainbow School series for 7-9s is now available on Amazon. It took me 5-6 days to finally get it right and publish it. Each time I reviewed the digital proof, one of the chapter heading was out of syn and not on the right page. Then the back pages were all askew. I am so pleased as it means that my Asper Fiction is well on its way out there to reach readers.

You can find Charlie here https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1548727415/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500026939&sr=8-1&keywords=Charlie+and+the+captivating+cap

I am currently working on Book 5 in the series which is all about Alistair who is a v anxious boy with Asperger's. Once I have finished his story, I am going back to Book 3 about Susie to do some minor edits, then on to Book 4 to check something in that.

I am loving writing this series as I feel I have now found my true voice and what I want to write about.