1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir Monday, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, Writing

Staging an (Accessible) Online Reading: A Step-By-Step Guide

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zz_sonyaBy Sonya Huber

The typical literary reading presents an obstacle course for many people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. From finding transportation and parking to staying up late to navigating stairs and chairs, every decision involves stress and difficulty. My recent essay collection, Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays From a Nervous System, deals with the twists and turns of living with chronic pain, and I knew that I needed to find ways to connect with people with chronic pain. I was surprised to find that an online reading was easy and fun, and I believe this is something other authors can easily do to extend their own audiences and make literary readings more accessible.

My first foray into online readings was through a Facebook Live Event. I hadn’t seen this done before so I kind of winged it, and in the end I think it turned…

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Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, This Day In Literature

Anne with an E {review}

If you were a fan of Breaking Bad, give this show a shot. I am interested in all reviews and perspectives on my favourite Red headed heroine. And yes, the audio descriptions really do help.

Adventures in Low Vision

Anne wearing a crown of flowers stands in goldne sunlight in the poster artwork for Netflix's Anne with an E.Note: No major spoilers in this review of Anne with an E. It discusses only the first two episodes of the seven part series.

Listening as Mom read chapters from Anne of Green Gables at bedtime is a cherished childhood memory. Old enough (8 or 9?) to read L. M. Montgomery’s book myself, I appreciated the portioned delivery. It made it last.

My sister and I loved watching Anne productions, Anne of Avonlea, the sequel to the wildly popular Anne of Green Gables starring Megan Follows as well as the later Avonlea series broadcast on the Disney channel. It may have been why my parents caved for the cable channel. I’m sure we begged. I liked hearing about the spunky orphan Anne Shirley and her adventures around beautiful Avonlea. I related to Anne’s love of school and her frustrations with being bullied for uncontrollable factors like appearance. She didn’t…

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Uncategorized

Nonfiction as Autopsy: In Defense of Self-Interest

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

By Jacob Littlezz Yellowstone

I have several friends from various parts of the literary world who joke (with varying degrees of sincerity) about how nonfiction writers are “narcissists” or “navel-gazers” or even “cheaters” (announcing before you tell a story that it is true ratchets up the emotional investment and is a good way to disguise weak material or poor craft—or so a friend once told me). Aside from the numerous problems with these assertions, the charge of “self-involved” seems particularly hard to shake. How to explain a twenty-page story with oneself as the main character? Or even worse(!), a full-length book? (A beloved former poetry professor used to call them ME-moirs)

The obvious counter is to point out the hypocrisy of the assertion. What short story, novel, or poem has ever been anything other than the author exploring their own obsessions? The material may be different, but the…

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Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Interviews, Shows and Events, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Speaker of Latin, Scratcher of Words #10Thankful

I am currently watching The Handmaid’s Tale and in the latest episode the poor handmaid is locked in her room as a punishment for not reproducing. She spends time on the floor of her closet, as she slowly loses her grip on reality, and finds a line written in Latin, carved in the wall: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.”

DON’T LET THE BASTARDS GRIND YOU DOWN

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for my back yard.

For a yard in town, it is a nice size. When we bought the house, there was no place to sit and enjoy it, until we had a deck built and a door out onto it. This was a few years into living in the house.

Now I can sit out there and enjoy the weather, if I don’t feel like the noise I get from sitting out on my front porch. I kept a BBQ from a past relationship and we are having a family gathering out there soon, to celebrate My sister’s birthday, among other things.

It’s perfect, with lots of space for the kids to run around back there.

I’m thankful I could help my sister out.

She was invited to a Mother’s Day tea at my nephew’s school. She could have brought my baby niece along, but it was nice I could stay home with her, so my sister and nephew could have a nice morning together with the rest of his class, without any of the distractions a three-month-old might cause, as cute as she is.

I got my niece to nap as soon as my sister left, but it was a close call to keep her sleeping, with my dog who likes to bark right there and the cardinal who likes to bang against the glass of my sister’s patio door because he sees his reflection and doesn’t understand what that means.

Luckily, my niece was just that tired.

I’m thankful to know that my brother has a friend who is looking out for him.

He messaged me one night, asking if I’d heard from my brother that day. I had and knew he had gone out for the night.

None of us knows when another seizure could strike, so it’s just nice to know he’s being thought of.

It makes me feel better and I thought it was just a nice thing for a friend to do.

I’m thankful to have been interviewed for my friend’s podcast.

You can check it out here.

I am thankful for a phone call on Mother’s Day.

I am not a mother and I don’t know if there is a day for us aunts.

I was on my way to see my nephew and his parents for dinner, when I received a phone call as I was getting dressed and ready to go.

At first I heard no voice speaking, but I did hear a background I guessed right away. Then, a little voice spoke to me.

My nephew was calling. His father told me after that he just said he wanted to call me. I don’t receive a call on Mother’s Day usually, but I like to think my nephew could sense that and was calling to lift my spirits.

Sure, he mostly asked about my dog, whom he usually loves, but I prefer to think of it that other way.

I am thankful for my mother and all the warm and wonderful mothers out there.

Mother, May I?

I’m thankful for my mother’s help when my television goes silent on me.

These days, it’s not just a television. Then you have the cable box and the surround system speakers and DVD and I can’t possibly use all of these with only one remote.

A lot is visual about it and when one wrong button is pressed or if you don’t aim straight at the cable box when you turn it on, all hell breaks loose. I guess it’s too much for a blind girl to be able to figure it all out, use it without running to her mother every week.

Luckily, she helps, no matter how often I request it.

I’m thankful for a delicious Mother’s Day meal.

It’s BBQ season and everything tastes better cooked that way. One of my favourite parts of warmer weather.

My mom also made a taco salad for the occasion, because she wants to bring something. It was a meal in itself.

My brother-in-law and nephew made the cupcakes for dessert.

I’m thankful we don’t live in The Handmaid’s Tale.

I am completely creeped out by this series, but this week I just had to mention that Latin bit.

Everyone keeps comparing the story to today’s times, or where we could be heading, even though we like to think of women’s rights as improving a lot in the past one hundred years.

I do hope we never do go as far as they have gone in Atwood’s story, but you never know. I do feel better to watch, with curiosity and horror, and then go back to my real life and feel how lucky I have it, to be as free as I am.

This story should be a lesson for us all, but it is scary when I think that there are a number of people who might want some of these Handmaid story elements to be true.

There is some mention, by some of the repressors, of the UN and Toronto Star. Is Canada still free, but the US is the one so messed up? It’s strange, as Atwood is a Canadian writer. I wonder why she set it like that.

I’m thankful my violin teacher is back.

It has been almost a whole month, since she went on her trip to South America, teaching violin. I am happy for her, that she got such an opportunity, but my violin playing has stalled as I’ve been on my own with it.

We will see what we get out of that. Though, after I was in Mexico, upon returning my skills weren’t as badly effected as I’d feared they would be. (Update next week.)

Not letting the bastards grind me down…a work-in-progress.

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Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, SoCS, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, Writing

Tongue Tied #Language #SoCS

“Language is your medium and use it to the max.”

—Anne Rice

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

I think about language as I sit in the quiet room of my local library on certain Wednesday nights. I am trying to come up with a bit of story to read out loud at the end of my writing group and I want to use the right sort of words and sentences.

Anne Rice is one who believes in adverbs, even though many so-called writing pros condemn the use of them. Ugh!

How am I supposed to know what is the right way to go?

I’m just glad I’ve managed/mastered the English language this far, when I wish I’d focused harder and done better at learning French when I was in school. I am proud that Canada is a multi-language nation and it can only serve as a benefit.

My family doesn’t all speak Polish or German. I wish we did. My father’s parents didn’t teach him their native European languages, by speaking them at home when he was young. I think they were so focused on learning English, as still fairly new to North America, that they couldn’t be bothered. I hope they didn’t feel any sort of shame surrounding the speak of their birth countries, being recent immigrants to Canada.

My mom learned German, as my grandparents always spoke it, but a certain dialect of the language. My grandpa used to tell me stories of how he didn’t even speak English before going to school. It was always German in his home as a child.

My mom speaks some and understands it. This allows her to speak to my uncle who visits from Germany every few years.

I was recently blown away by the beauty and rhythm of Spanish, as I prepared to travel to Mexico. I tried, for months, to learn some so I wouldn’t be totally lost when I went down there. By the end of my week, I’d gotten better at recognizing what was being said around me, but I would have needed many more weeks there to be able to speak any with much confidence.

Language is hard. It is one of those things that gets harder and harder to learn as you age. I am so set on learning to play the violin, at age 33, that I can’t possibly fit in learning any other language on top of that.

Ah well…there’s always my forties.

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FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Special Occasions

Mother, May I? #TGIF #MothersDay #FTSF

“You didn’t raise us right.”

That might not sound like something a child (even a grown one) should say to their parent, but we say it all the time. It’s one of those inside jokes in our family and you’d have to be quite familiar with how we roll to get the humour in such a statement.

I see it as a commentary on just how hard it is to be a parent, something we’re all realizing as grown children and a fact my brother and sister (both fairly new to parenting) are especially coming to understand. Parenting is hard and our parents did well, incredibly well.

Our mother was half of that effort. Happy Mother’s Day Mom. XOXO

***

Oh, Mother sounds like the beginnings of a swear word to me, but I can see that being one of the many parts of being a parent, a mother, as motherhood sometimes causes swearing (hopefully under one’s breath) to occur.

I’m reminded, every March, that Mother’s Day isn’t celebrated the same time of year in all places around the world.

When I think Mother’s Day, I think floral arrangements, but a big reason for that is my mom’s particular love of flowers, plus spring in full bloom.

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The magnolia is one of my mom’s favourites.

As for Mother’s Day long gone, I think of bringing flowers to my oma, my dad’s mother.

Recently I have been thinking more about a serious topic, with the new video honouring the mother of a seriously ill child, especially as I think back twenty or so years to when my mom had her husband in an operating room, undergoing surgery in one hospital, while having her youngest daughter (me) in an operating room across the street at Toronto’s Hospital For Sick Children.

What strength she had to have shown that day. I was so focused, at the time on myself going into surgery. I was just young enough that I didn’t really think of such things, per se, as what my mom might be going through, the thought of possibly losing a daughter and/or a husband that day, however slim the chances.

Now, this year, I wanted to write an article where I interviewed some of the moms in the video and mine, but I was unable to secure a publication spot. I will write this piece, sooner or later though. In fact, I think my own mom and I could co-author a book of our own together.

So much of what she did for me, fighting for the integrated education I had, she did with such determination. She would have gladly written/spoken about it, and has done. I hope to write about it, from my perspective, at some point too. The world needs to know there is a mother like mine out there.

My mom heard I was receiving a few odd and rather spammy comments on my blog and warned me to cut back on posting on my blog for a while, to lay low, and yet here I am.

It’s not like I don’t value her advice. In fact, there’s nobody whose opinion I value more.

I always take it into advisement and, this time, while I saw her point, I decided I couldn’t not write my blog. I recognized her suggestion as that of a worried mother, one always a little afraid of what the Internet might attract. I couldn’t very well fault her for worrying about me.

I can never express everything my mom did for me, to get me through the tough times, and to celebrate the happy times, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try anyway.

***

I spent a night at my sister’s house, the one we grew up in as kids, staying home with my infant niece while her mother went to a Mother’s Day tea with my nephew, at his school, the same school his mother and I attended growing up.

We discussed the soother, a tool many mothers choose to give their babies. My sister didn’t with my nephew and isn’t with my niece. She has tried to avoid it. This brings up the whole judgment thing, mothers judging each other and also themselves, and everyone knows how common that is and also how toxic it can become.

I respect my sister’s decision. I respect the soother rout many moms choose to take. Neither one is the wrong one, same as breast fed/bottle/formula or the many other choices mothers must make, both big and small.

I did wonder, as I held my niece and played with my nephew, hearing about the funny kick in the air thing he did when he got off the bus and heard that I was still there, about my own thoughts on Mother’s Day.

I leave all the hard decisions to my sister, knowing in my heart that she will make the best decisions for her children, just like our mother did for us. This leaves me and my thoughts once all the crying, cooing, and little boy questions and stories have given way to me being on my own again tonight.

Mother’s Day is a time where I’ve celebrated my grandmother, now my own mother and the mothers of my precious nieces and nephews. It’s when I hear all about mother/mom and try not to think too hard about what I might never be or have or do. Will I ever be a mother myself?

As each March/May comes and goes, I feel as though the possibility of my becoming a mom grows ever slimmer. Will I ever make peace with that, if that ends up being my lot in life?

I don’t know, honestly. It may, very well, be the best thing. Truthfully, it is painful for me, when I see a mother and their baby, no matter the age, even as being a daughter is one of the best parts of being me. I see the way a mother talks and interacts with their child. I wonder what that feels like.

Do I have that, to some degree, of course. I feel the force of the bond and connection between myself and my nieces and nephews, a feeling I was unfamiliar with, just over six short years ago. Is this the same, or even close to what they feel?

I do derive some comfort when I’m told that the two intensities of emotion and love aren’t all that far apart, sure I do. Is it enough to take away all the sting of it?

I am lucky. I know that. That’s about all I know. I love my nieces and nephews, my sisters who are mothers, and my mother too. I wish flowers and family for you all.

***

This has been another edition of
Finish the Sentence Friday
and an awfully special one at that.

Kristi is the host, like always, but this week she has
Lisa from The Meaning of Me
joining her.

Happy Mother’s Day ladies. Two of the best mothers I’ve met in recent years.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes

Women Are Not Here For You. You Do Not Own Us.

Oh my God, yes. This.

Drifting Through

pexels-photo-246804

A guy walks up to a girl in a bar. She’s laughing with her friends, engrossed in conversation. He slides in next to her to introduce himself. Offers her a drink. I’m just here to hang with my friends she says more than once. He proceeds to ask her “get to know you” questions, ignores her icy stare. Oblivious to her friends rolling their eyes. He appears immune to her Not interested‘s and her No thank you‘s. Finally, she sighs, I HAVE A BOYFRIEND. He backs away grudgingly, defensively, hands in the air, It’s cool, it’s cool. I got it.

Her rebuffs weren’t enough. Her refusals were dismissed. It was clear that what she wanted wasn’t of much concern to him. But another man’s woman? That’s a record scratch. A stop sign. A no trespassing sign.

This story isn’t unusual. It’s not even rare. Most women at…

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