September Blog/Necronomicon 2021

Hello, everyone. I hope your September has been good, safe, and productive. My September has been. My birthday /Labor Day weekend was good, and so far I have been pretty productive. I have been quite busy. But then again, I have had a lot going on. Please read on for more…

Necro Prep Work

As some of you may know, I have been planning on speaking at Necronomicon 2021. I’m going to be on four panels this year.

So I thought I would write a blog post, as per my usual, as a way to get all of the prep work I have been doing on “paper.” That way, I could feel prepared and not let any anxiety get out of hand… #reallife

Art Show

In addition, things I’m doing this week include finishing up come art cards that I will be bringing with me to “Necro,” as I will have a small table in the Art Show. Well, a portion of a table. It’s a three-foot section of a table. So I have to put some things that I have on a table and see how it looks. I think I will be doing that at least once this week. I’ll probably bring extra art with me, just in case it gets cleared out the first day. But that’s me trying to think positively. Most of the types of cards that I will be bringing with me have been seen in my Etsy shop, and/or on my Instagram. I might post photos of table layout options, and/or do some vlogging about prepping and packaging things up.

I don’t think I’ll write here very much about the art-related panel I’m on, but focus mostly on the three other panels I’m scheduled to speak on.

My Panels

In the past, I have been on panels about editing, The Hero’s Journey, and writing about characters with disabilities. Here are the panels I’m scheduled for this year:

  • Selling Your Art Online
  • When to Argue With an Editor
  • Self-Publishing, Patreon, YouTube, and Podcasts
  • The Hero’s and Heroine’s Journey Compared

“Selling Your Art Online” Panel

The first panel, Selling Your Art Online, is currently scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. This should be very interesting, and I’m looking forward to learning the others’ perspectives as I started an Etsy shop last September, which is geared towards writers and lovers of fantasy. I make art cards and mixed media canvases, and I’m looking into selling digital art papers and prints.

“When to Argue With an Editor” Panel

The next panel listed above, When to Argue With an Editor, is another panel I’m really looking forward to. 😉 It’s scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night. And, yes, I’m actually going to be saying that you can argue with an editor regarding their suggestions. In preparation for this panel, I have been reading the book The Subversive Copy Editor, Second Edition, written by Carol Fisher Saller and published in 2016. The original, published in 2009, became an instant hit in the writing and publishing community, which I had read as a library book years ago. The author, the editor of the Chicago Manual of Style Q&A portion of the CMOS website and owner of The Subversive Copy Editor website, Saller tries to subvert the idea that editors are rigid when it comes to editing and grammar rules, and are only in it for the power trip. In her book, she attempts to help not only editors, but also writers, communicate with each other in a positive way.

That should be what both sides aim to do… I believe in that.

“Self-Publishing, Patreon, YouTube and Podcasts”

This panel is currently scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Sunday. Now, I have been on YouTube for about four years, and even though I have a Patreon, I am very new to it, and am setting everything up, so I will let others talk about that (although I do now have a Ko-Fi account, and am in the process of adding it to all of my social media), and as I have not quite finished my first book, I can’t talk too much about self-publishing yet, although I have learned a few things due to talking with many authors about it, including the pitfalls and benefits, and all of the things you have to do (so many details!). I am definitely getting excited about telling everyone about the incredible writing community I have found on YouTube. I will mention my other channel as well (it’s called Autism, Love, and Acceptance, and is a family vlog and travel review channel) in addition to discussing Instagram as beneficial social media for authors and editors.

“The Hero’s Journey and The Heroine’s Journey”

The panel at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday called “The Hero’s Journey and The Heroine’s Journey: What is the difference based on gender?” should be quite interesting. Many writers have heard of The Hero’s Journey by now. Many famous writers have used this story structure to write their own stories. But have you heard of the Heroine’s Journey? This panel will compare these two story/mythological/psychological constructs and how story structure compares when looked at from different gender perspectives.

I have been reading the original book on the feminine perspective of The Hero’s Journey, titled The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s quest for Wholeness, written by Maureen Murdock, and originally published in 1990. I have the 30th anniversary edition, which was published last year. I have found it very interesting, and many issues in women’s psychology that were discussed in the book still apply to many today, but not only to women. Murdock even mentions that sometimes men go on a Heroine’s Journey, in the original book. And of course I should mention that this perspective on personal change can apply to everyone, the LGBTQ+ community included.

You can even look at modern popular media for references to The Heroine’s Journey, such as Frozen II. (Spoilers incoming!) In the original Frozen movie, Elsa follows The Hero’s Journey, but in Frozen II, she follows The Heroine’s Journey, because she undergoes more change. In the first movie, Elsa goes through all of the steps of The Hero’s Journey, but at the end of the story, she is back where she was in the end. She’s in a better place because of her adventure, but she still hasn’t gone on a journey of acceptance. At the end of the second movie, she accepts herself for who she is. She literally come into her own power. She has undergone all of the steps of The Heroine’s Journey. And by the way, so has Anna.

Here are all of the steps of The Heroine’s Journey:

  • Separation from the Feminine
  • Identification with the Masculine and Gathering of Allies
  • Road of Trials: Meeting Ogres and Dragons
  • Finding the Illusory Boon of Success
  • Awakening to Feelings of Spiritual Aridity: Death
  • Initiation and Descent to the Goddess
  • Urgent Yearning to Reconnect with the Feminine
  • Healing the Mother/Daughter Split
  • Healing the Wounded Masculine
  • Integration of Masculine and Feminine

And here are all of the steps of The Hero’s Journey :

  • The Ordinary World
  • The Call to Adventure
  • Refusal of the Call
  • Supernatural Aid
  • Crossing of the First Threshold
  • Road of Trials
  • Belly of the Whale
  • Meeting with the Goddess
  • Woman as Temptress
  • Atonement with the Father
  • Apotheosis
  • The Ultimate Boon
  • Refusal of the Return
  • Magic Flight
  • Rescue from Without
  • Crossing the Return Threshold
  • Master of Two Worlds
  • Freedom to Live

Masks Required

This year, Necronomicon is an in-person con, because by the time of the current situation regarding the surge in Covid-19 cases here in Florida happened, the deadline had already passed for cancelling the con. However, they are requiring masks for all attendees and guests of the con, which in my personal opinion, was a good call.

My Necro Family

I feel fortunate to have many “families” in my life. My flesh-and-blood family (which comes first, obviously), my survivor family (I have been a cancer survivor for over 20 years), my local and online disability community/family, my local and online writing and editing families, and then there’s Necronomicon Tampa. The staff and guests are some of the most genuine people I have ever met, and I feel that if it wasn’t for Necronomicon Tampa, I’m not sure I would be as far as I have gotten in my career. They have helped me keep on truckin’.

I started attending Necronomicon Tampa in 2014, so I have been attending Necro for eight years. However, last year’s con was online, so I haven’t seen these people in two years… I’m looking forward to seeing them.

But don’t worry, I’ll be as safe as I can.

Have a great day, guys.

-Heather

Review of “Songs of Autumn”

Songs of Autumn by Lauren Sevier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


First, I have to say that I have seen the cover art, even though I read the e-book and not the paperback. The cover art, though, is very beautiful and simple. At the time that I saw it, I felt it was a harbinger of mystery, and possibly of death.

The cover artwork—the outline of a thistle, a drop of what looks like blood falling from it, over a brocade-like pattern—leaves quite a bit to the imagination. The cover art immediately drew my attention when I saw it for the first time, my curiosity piqued.

The story, told from two characters’ points of view, of Princess Lisabetta and Matioch Steele, drew me in with its characters. Lisabetta is, however, essentially the main character, and while she is the princess of her realm, is awaiting her own death.

The priestesses in her realm of Aegis believe that an ancient prophecy will be fulfilled, and that “Liz” is the one who will save it from disaster. Magick is dwindling in Aegis, and so nature is not working properly. The prophecy has been interpreted to mean that she must be sacrificed, but she is trying to outwit this prophecy.

I have to say that this was a very interesting premise. The prophecy states many things that could possibly be misinterpreted, and Liz is trying to subvert it, and trying to prove that the ones who say she has to die, have it wrong.

The story in general drew me in, and before long I was immersed in the story. And so many elements of the story immersed me in this world, especially Sevier’s honest descriptions of Liz’s feelings of despair and also of her growing attraction to Matioch. There were also her descriptions of the cities and lands of Aegis, Sevier’s medieval-like world that she has built for this book and subsequent series.

The two central characters of Princess Elisabetta, who wants her close friends to call her “Liz”—and Matioch Steele, also called Mat, a blacksmith who wants a different future for himself—are both looking for clues, Mat to his past and Liz, to her future. Liz wants to know if she has to die to save her kingdom, and Matioch hopes to prove that he is more than his low birth and current station in life.

While the two main characters grow and change in the process of the story, fulfilling a wonderful character arc for them both, there is more, and I again won’t go into much detail here except to say that other characters grow and change over the course of this book as well, including a couple of characters who seem pulled from modern times.

The story concept—a romance mixed together with a fantasy element, lots of action, and a race against time, plus a large cast of well-drawn characters—pits a princess against her fate.


I thought this was a very original concept for a plot, especially that a princess who despite what everyone says is in store for her, is searching for something else, something that seems just beyond her reach, if only she can understand the problem presented to her.

I don’t want to include too many spoilers, so I won’t be very precise here, and go into territory that will spoil the mystery for readers of Sevier’s book.

Suffice it to say that the mystery seems to go on to the next book in the series, and I for one want to continue reading on, to find out what is in store for Liz and Mat.

Five stars to Songs of Autumn!






View all my reviews

August Blog: AuthorTube Virtual Writers Retreat and Wordstock / Necronomicon

Hello! I hope this finds you well. My family are all fine, and healthy, thank goodness. And as my son is now back at school, I am gearing up for my busy season, as always.

I am looking to make some changes to this site in early September, including annual adjustments to my editing fees.

So, if you get in touch with me before September 1st, you can catch me at my 2019-2020 rates.

If you are interested in my copyediting, proofreading, or other services, you can reach me at heatherdeweypettet@gmail.com.

I have not had much going on professionally in August, because I have been so busy focusing on being a mom, as I said earlier. So the focus of this blog post is on upcoming projects.

I have many things going on this fall, including being involved with activities as part of the corner of YouTube called AuthorTube. Firstly, I signed up a few weeks ago to do a workshop as part of the AuthorTube Virtual Writers Retreat, on Sept. 12 and 13, called Q & A on Writing Mechanics. I’m looking forward to that.

The following weekend will be two projects that I have been involved with before, one being the AuthorTube Seminar Series called Wordstock. I don’t yet know what the subject matter will be yet, so I can’t tell you much more at this time.

The other thing happening during the third weekend in September is my favorite con, of course… Necronomicon Tampa!! I have been attending this con since 2014, and participating as a guest since 2018. This year, I will be on a panel titled, ” Writing for the YA Market: the do’s and don’ts of writing for a young adult audience.”

For my blog next month, I promise to include links to all videos I have produced for my YouTube channel in September.

Have a great day, everyone!!

-Heather

Why Mechanics Matter

This is the post I had intended to write recently, but life got in the way. Personal life, yes, but also getting ready for my conference that was two weekends ago, NecronomiCon Tampa (which is the coolest little con I’ve ever attended, by the way).

I spoke on an editing panel called Why Mechanics Matter, and during the panel, we were all asked why we thought mechanics should matter to writers. My response?

I said that mechanics should matter to writers because if they don’t, they should. Because if even if they don’t matter to you, they probably matter to possible readers.

And, who is going to read a book that’s full of errors? No one.

The thing is, you don’t want to underestimate your potential reader.

If someone starts reading your book and they come upon multiple mistakes, you have the potential to lose that reader. And that reader could potentially stop reading your book. Or your series. That’s not what you want. You want them to continue reading, until “The End.”

This reader could even potentially write a bad review, and of course, that’s definitely not what you want. People buy books that come recommended, that are well-reviewed. Not the other way around.

So, what do you do, if you are a writer? You edit your work. Or, you hire an editor (Luckily, I am a freelance editor, and that is what I offer, my services as a copy editor or proofreader. If you feel you are at the stage where you need one, please contact me at heatherdeweypettet@gmail.com).

And, what you may ask, are mechanics exactly? The mechanics of the English language are the established conventions for using grammar, punctuation, spelling, and other technicalities like the use of numerals. These are the tools you use to put together your thoughts into written form. Mechanics are the framework for hanging your sentences on.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines grammar as “the study of the classes of words, their inflections, and their functions and relations in the sentence.”

So, that is the difference between mechanics and grammar, both of which I’d like to write about, here on this blog, in the future.

If you have any questions about mechanics or grammar, or any related subject, please drop me a line at heatherdeweypettet@gmail.com.

Also, if you liked this blog post, please click on “Like” down below, and subscribe for more information on the writing process and editing-related information! Have a great day! 🙂

October Update Blog Post

Hello. I hope this post finds everyone well.

This month’s post is full of various projects I have been working on. I have had a very busy month.

I attended a networking event during the first weekend of this month put on by the NAIWE, the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors. The event was called the Be a Better Freelancer Conference.

I learned so much, and made lots of connections.

During the Conference, which was 100% online, I attended some great workshops for editors and writers. I think I am going to join NAIWE as soon as possible.

Another thing that happened this month is I announced, rather quietly, that I am starting an Etsy store. I did that because I wanted to make sure that I had at least 10 items, at minimum, in the store before I make an official announcement. So, that’s coming, slowly but surely, for many reasons. I suppose I could go ahead and put a link here.

In addition, I am preparing for NaNoWriMo. Not only as a writer, but also as a YouTuber, and as an editor.

For my book, I am in the middle of making a new outline, with index cards, in the vein of author and fellow YouTuber Sarra Cannon. I hope to write around 20,000 words in November. We’ll have to see how that goes.

As a YouTuber, I am planning on creating two video series, based on some other work that I am doing this month.

I am going to have a grammar series and a punctuation series. These series will touch on things that come up for me as a copyeditor and proofreader, and would be beneficial for authors who have just finished up their first draft after NaNoWriMo. My plan is to get these filmed in early November, and up on my YouTube channel by the end of November.

I am also planning on starting a podcast. I have been thinking about this during this month, and I finally decided to start one. It will be a general podcast, covering all aspects of my life as a mom, writer, editor, and artist.

Thank you so much for reading.

Have a great day, folks!

-Heather

September Blog Post: NecronomiCon 2020 At Home

For the last several years, I have had the fortune to attend a Con. A convention. An organization that has helped me as a writer, editor and artist. And brought me out of my shell a bit.

You see, “Necro” is not just a con. It’s a family. A family of authors, editors, artists, gamers, fans, and everything in between.

Bue, let me start over, for those who may not be aware. A “con” is a convention, usually of fans of popular culture. Many are of specific genres, like science fiction and/or fantasy, art and cartoons like anime, or many other genres and fandoms.

In recent years, cons have grown to be so widely attended that they have attracted thousands. The closest one to me of this massive size is DragonCon, held in Atlanta, Georgia over the first weekend of September. I have not attended DragonCon except in its infancy, apparently, many years ago, when it was named something else. Not long after, this one con and another con merged into one, and the resulting brand was named DragonCon.

Of course now it’s 2020, and attending conventions is highly discouraged, due to the virus that must not be named. It’s sad, of course, but it’s probably not a good idea to group so many together in such a tight space. And most people have heard the term “con crud,” the inevitable colds and things that get passed around during a weekend of frivolity.

Here where I live, in Tampa Bay, we have had a blessing in NecronomiCon. It’s a con, a writers workshop, and an art show, as well as a chance to show off our cosplay creations. But to me, it’s a family of like-minded artists of various genres who are willing to share their art into which they put their heart and soul.

Everyone at Necronomicon definitely feel like family. I have felt welcomed there with open arms.

As is suggested by the title, Necro is virtual this year, as are a lot of events. Con tickets are available through Eventbrite, and are actually free. And, the merch mentioned on the site do not benefit Necronomicon. 100 percent of the proceeds of the sale of any merchandise mentioned on the website directly benefit our favorite charity for the 11th year, Kids and Canines.

Kids and Canines is a local charity that pairs disadvantaged youth with rescued dogs who are trained by these kids to help those with disabilities.

I wanted to get this written just in time for Necro to start, and I did! Thanks for reading, folks. Have a great day!

-Heather

July Blog // My AuthorTube Projects, and a Newsletter

In AuthorTube land…

In my last post, I talked about the #authortubers video that I put up for May, called How to Write Characters With Disabilities, as part of the No More Ableist Books Collab. This collaboration of YouTubers who are authors was a great intro to creating more content for my channel. It’s not perfect, but it’s there.

Then I also did the WordStock writer’s workshop in June, a video called Tips on Punctuating a Stutter. In this video, I talk about two tips on how to show a stutter in dialogue, while realistically portraying a character with a stutter.

 

 

Newsletter Announcement

Second of all, I wanted to let everyone know that I have definitely started a newsletter. I had started to produce one before, but I honestly just didn’t do it. But now that I have so much going on, I wanted to make sure people know what I have to offer as an editor, as well as when I may be done with writing my book. So, that’s to come…

 

Thanks for reading, and I can’t wait to share what comes next!

-Heather

 

 

Recent and Upcoming YouTube Projects

 

As you may know, I have a YouTube channel.

When I first started it, I wasn’t sure how I was going to balance the content, as to how much to film regarding my writing, vs. how much to film regarding editing-related content, vs. showing my art stuff.

In the end, I drifted more towards producing writing and editing-related content, and so there are few videos talking about my art. That said, I sometimes talk about my art during my live streams.

I am on the AuthorTube live streaming schedule for Tuesday and Thursday nights from 7 to 9 p.m., e.s.t. If you are interested in chatting and writing with me during these live streams, I provide these as a service to my subscribers. I do 15- or 20-minute writing sprints during these live streams, which prove beneficial to many writers who are looking to get some writing done.

I am very glad that I have joined the writing community of AuthorTubers. They are a creative, supportive bunch of people who have helped me with my own writing, and if you care to join us, we can help you, too.

In addition, I am looking to add other types of videos for my subscribers in the future, such as how-to’s, tips and tricks, and other types of live streams, such as when I am done with my book, I will have a live release party.

About two months ago I made a video about ableism in books, a subject which I am passionate about, due to having a child on the autism spectrum:

 

As of this writing, I am signed up for something called Wordstock: The AuthorTube Seminar Series, for the month of June. I can’t give you many more details at this time, but suffice it to say that I believe the subject would be interesting to a lot of fiction writers.

I will give an update and a link to my Wordstock video here, and on other social media, closer to the publishing date of the video.

Thanks for reading, and as always, have a great day!

-Heather

 

 

Hello, December!

…and hello, all. How is your December progressing?

I have been busy, as usual. In November, I participated in NaNoWriMo, even if I didn’t even tally my daily word counts on the NaNo website. Apparently, they were having a lot of problems.

But at least I wrote a couple of chapters. That’s something.

I am currently in between editing gigs, so I have been writing, and organizing my writing/editing desk, among other things.

Also, as we are moving soon, we are definitely organizing things. So there’s that. We, of course, are packing the kid’s room and stuff for last. That will be much less stressful for him.

However, the cleaning, decluttering, and removing things from the walls has begun. So after I get things set up in the new apartment, I’ll take some photos and film a “studio tour” video. However, as of this writing, I don’t even know where that will be.

I did take some video yesterday, by the way, while I took a walk. I don’t think I’m doing the Vlogmas thing, as I wasn’t planning on it, but I do want to do a weekly video on my YouTube channel. I’ll give it the ol’ college try.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about my plans for the year.

My Plans for 2020 

This coming year will be interesting. As I will have a different space to work in, it may be a difficult thing to get used to. I’ll have to see how it works out.

My plans for the year–in my professional life, that is–include finishing up my novel, getting more work as a freelance editor, and making art.

As far as my novel goes, I am hoping to be finished with my draft, do a self-edit, and be ready for beta readers before June, at any rate. If I finish before that, great. If not, that’s all right. Life goes on.

But as far as my freelance editing business goes, I would like to grow and get better at what I do.  In order to do that, I am planning on getting some additional continuing education. As of right now, I am a member of the Florida Writers Association, and within that organization, I am a writers group leader (well, to be specific, it’s a critique group). But I am also going to join ACES, the American Copy Editors Society, as soon as possible.

In addition, I am going to sign up for their Certificate in Copy Editing, co-sponsored by the Poynter Institute.

Here is a quote from the Poynter site, which gives an in-depth description of the courses involved:

“The Poynter ACES Certificate in Editing gives you a solid understanding of the standards, essential skills and best practices of editing.”

Yes, there is no serial comma in that sentence because Poynter concentrates on teaching journalism. And so they use AP (Associated Press) style, of course.

Anyway, the six courses involved in the certificate are quite in-depth. They are: Fundamentals of Editing, The Art and Science of Editing, Clarity is Key: Making Writing Clean and Concise, Getting it Right: Accuracy and Verification in the Digital Age, Writing Online Headlines: SEO and Beyond, and Language Primer: Basics of Grammar, Punctuation and Word Use.

I highly recommend anyone thinking of entering the freelance editing workforce to get certified. I know I am, even though I’ve been doing this for a long time.

Another thing I’m going to do to hopefully bring in more possible clients in the new year is to start putting out a newsletter. So I’m researching topics for that, as well as topics for my YouTube channel, which is basically an offshoot of this blog, like it’s been all along. And I plan on uploading weekly to the channel, no matter what. And I also plan on blogging at least monthly. And as far as art goes, I plan on entering a few art shows.

So, these are my main goals for the year.

Plus, I’ll be doing the mom thing every day, so on occasion, I might relapse and then have to catch up.

To quote Kurt Vonnegut, “And so it goes.”

Have a great day, everyone!! Thanks for reading.

-Heather

P.S. Please let me know if you liked this post. Everything helps me out, folks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tropes and the Experience of Disability in Science Fiction and Fantasy: An Interview with L. M. Kugler

A while back, in October of last year, I wrote a blog post about writing about characters with disabilities.

I wish to expand on that subject here, and talk about tropes specifically, especially in regard to how they are used in the realm of speculative fiction. For those of you who don’t know, this is an umbrella term for fiction writing that falls into categories such as fantasy and science fiction.

Of course, there are more genres and subgenres underneath those terms as well, but I will not go into that now; I want to talk about what is known as tropes.

What are Tropes?

A trope in fiction is essentially defined as a commonly used theme or literary device.

Here is Merriam-Webster online’s example of the word “trope” used in a sentence:

“a screenplay that reads like a catalog of mystery-thriller tropes”

On LiteraryTerms.net, they explain that one of the great tropes in science fiction is a metaphor, the “space is the sea” trope, which includes terms like spaceship, star fleet, or the ranks “Captain” and “Admiral,” used in outer space contexts.

This article goes on to say that this trope is used to “create drama and feeling by comparing the experience of space-travelers to that of sailors in the endless and very dangerous seas.”

Tropes on the Experience of Disability

There have been recurrent tropes in speculative fiction, that feature characters with disabilities, for decades.

One is that a character who has a disability if offered the chance would elect to eliminate, or at least alter in some way, their disability.

Take the classic novel, Flowers for Algernon. That story–and so many others–for decades, in a way suggested that disability is something that should be–or at least could be–altered or augmented through advances in science. Because he had an intellectual disability, the main character Charlie had surgery to try and make himself smarter.

I think a lot of characters with disabilities would not elect to do so. Most real people with disabilities are fine with the way they are.

Whether or not this trope stops, I feel that it can be handled differently than it has been in the past. Because many people now know that people with disabilities, even if they are aware of their differences, are proud of themselves and their achievements, and do not dwell on their differences, or view themselves as “broken.”

In the same vein, there is another common trope used in literature about a character with a chronic illness or other disability, that can be called “better dead than disabled.”

There are so many others, yet they are all essentially what author and speaker L.M. Kugler says is “anything that reduces a character to the sum total of his/her disability.” Kugler also says using these tropes is a mistake. “Nobody would do that with another character trait. We call that a flat character. It’s writing 101.”

In addition, Kugler says, “disabled characters are often written as either overcoming saints or people to be pitied. Where are the ordinary people dealing with ordinary things who just happen to be blind, deaf, or impaired in some way, their impairment simply adding an interesting facet to their life?”

Since her daughter has Spina Bifida, Kugler has gotten to know many mobility -impaired adults who have let her into their community. She said that she has learned a lot about what life is like for adults who use wheelchairs.

“There are certain things that only disabled people know,” she said. “Sure an AB (able-bodied) person can close their eyes and imagine what it might be to be blind, but they won’t know the terms blind people use, the slang for things, for example, that will give the story realism.”

“It is key that writers do their research by plugging into the community of people they want to write about. Make connections online or connect to advocacy groups. People are more than happy to help. Disabled groups want to see characters like them that are actually…well, like them.”

“The recent movie Me Before You was met with [a] huge outcry in the disabled community,” Kugler said. “I personally have not gone to see it because I would not give it my money. Neither would many in the community. A disabled man wants to die (even after he finds love) because he can’t find life worth living without his body the way it used to be? Not really the way most disabled people feel and not how they want to be represented. Yet that is all too often the way it goes.”

“And that is how they prefer to be labeled. Disabled. not Handicapable or whatever. There is no shame in the label at least for the physically impaired. For the mentally ill, the stigma is still very much there and there are movements going strong to help eliminate that.”

Ending Stigmas in Fiction

Kugler says that writers can help to end stigmas regarding characters with disabilities when writing speculative fiction by writing characters that actually disabled people can relate to.

“The primary method is by involving people with disabilities before writing. Interview the community. Contact Facebook groups or community activist groups in your local area as sources. Having persons with disabilities represented in fiction is important. Having persons with disabilities represented well (meaning authentically) in fiction is vital to helping readers understand and connect with those characters in a pivotal way.”

Kugler says that writers can apply such knowledge in a way that it helps spin perspective, thereby opening doors for conversation and/or new ways of thinking about disability and the people living with that disability.

 

Thanks for reading!

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Should authors use the “R” word? / Sensitivity Readers and what they do

 

EDIT: Due to the response I received below, in which the commenter said he did not know what the “R” word was, I read this post again. I did see that I missed having a definition for those who are not exposed to the disability community and are not aware of the intricacies regarding the use of this word. So, I have included a quick and easy explanation for those who are unaware.

 

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I mean the word “retarded.” Or, “retard.” Or even a variety of words that essentially mean the same thing, like “moron” or even “simpleton.”

So, should you use the “R” word?

I want to begin with the short answer to this question: No. As a parent of a teenager who is on the Autism spectrum, I want to say no.

However.

There may be times when an author wants to portray a character, and a particular situation, with authenticity. And, people used that word in days past. Hey, some do now (even though I personally wish they wouldn’t).

Sensitivity, Authenticity, and the “R” Word

I think an author needs to think in terms of authenticity.

And let’s say you do want to have authenticity in your story, and the story is set in the past. Say, in the early 1960s. And you want to have a main or side character with a serious developmental delay. So then you need to think about what that authenticity means to you. If it means that you want to portray things as they really were, no holds barred, then that authenticity should spell it out to the reader what that means.

In other words, as you are writing your story with characters based on real history and how things really were, then you have to portray this history with realistic situations. Even if it hurts. Even if it means that some may not like seeing the “R” word at all. Others might say that at least it would get people talking.

At that time, people used epithets. Yes, it’s sad, but it’s true. Some people were blunt, rude, and just downright mean. They made disparaging remarks.

But not everyone. There were people who would stand up for what is right. And that can be shown as well, of course.

At any rate, there are ways to go about writing these kinds of characters. And there are ways that you can write these situations and characters with sensitivity to their issues, while still maintaining a sense of the times in which they live.

For example, suppose you have a character with Down Syndrome living in the Deep South of Georgia in the early 1960s, that character’s experience should be authentic and should show how people reacted to people’s differences. Doing otherwise would not be realistic. You could still show how others around this character could change their attitudes and grow as a result of meeting said character with Down Syndrome. But not everyone who lived during that time would. It takes time for some people, and attitudes, to change. And, by the way, showing that could really help us see how far we have come as a society in recent years.

Substitute any other disability in this situation, and you can see how this will work.

Sensitivity Readers and What They Do

Now, what does this have to do with sensitivity readers? Well, it is always a good idea to have multiple people look over your manuscript before submitting it to a publisher, or putting it up onto an ebook site.

In fact, I highly recommend it.

As a critique partner, I have looked over lots of books in the past. More recently, I have given my opinion on manuscripts for friends, acting as a Beta Reader. More often than not, in the end, I have specific recommendations on how to deal with certain roadblocks encountered with words that deal with many forms of–and experiences of–disability.

And, as an author, alienating any potential reader could cause serious problems in your credibility. This is why using a Sensitivity Reader is a good idea if you have a character with a disability.

I have recently decided to offer this service to authors, and other clients, who want to make sure that any potential reader who may have a disability would not be turned off by careless phrasing. If anyone is interested in this service, please contact me at heatherdeweypettet@gmail.com.

By the way, if you are an author and would like specific information on writing that is disability-friendly, I wrote a post last fall all about writing about people and characters with disabilities. In this post are all kinds of links to various resources for writers who want to make sure their writing is disability-friendly.

 

Thanks for reading, everyone. If you liked this post, please “like” below, and leave a comment! I love getting feedback!

Heather