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Stylish Negotiations: How a Blind Writer Finds the Right Journals

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Emily K. Micheal TEDx promo photo 9.2016By Emily K. Michael

Submission guidelines rarely make me angry. Because I seek publications that share my interests – ecology, feminism, disability, music – all the specifications can start to look the same. Most journals want a well-rounded submission, free from religious agendas, offensive stereotypes, and one-dimensional fables of inspiration.

When I find a publication that seems promising, I scroll through the journal’s “About” page and submission guidelines. Here’s where I can make some serious assessments. Journals lose my interest if they proclaim, “send us your best work” or “we only publish good poetry.” I won’t let my students use “good” and “bad” as standalone terms, so I hesitate to send my work to a journal that won’t express its own agenda in more vibrant language.

Among publications that promote the work of disabled writers, the guidelines evince a similar aesthetic. Here are excerpts from three journals committed to sharing the…

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The Right to Read 

Blind Moving On

One of the things that I have always loved ever since I can remember is reading. It is amazing to sit down and just escape into a good book. There were always things that I missed on TV and in movies growing up due to my sight loss, but I never missed anything in the stories I read.

When I was younger, I was able to read large print, but so many of the popular books that my peers were reading I could not get in large print. There was not a lot of access to audio or eBooks then either. Due to this, I did not read as much as I would have liked because those options did not exist yet.

This issue also affected me in school because the books that we read in school were never in large print or audio. As a result, I had to…

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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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TToT: Mid April and Easter Update #Easter #10Thankful

“No matter what happens, people need to get their stories out. Sometimes I think this is my life’s work: bearing witness, and helping others to bear witness. Bear witness, expel torment, see the red cardinal in the bare tree.”

–Carrie Snyder, “Red cardinal in bare tree”

One of my favourite writers, Canadian writers, and she speaks on what my writing mentor told me, as I grew more comfortable with my own writer status.

We who write, who call ourselves writers live as such. We are constantly observing the world around us, to write it all down when the time is right.

This week’s TToT is a little or a lot muddled all-over-the-place, kind of like my own life right now.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for the chance to see myself in the media.

Check out this commercial. This girl has a YouTube channel and she is a public speaker, on Canadian television.

I believe it is important that the world sees that beauty and these products mean just as much to those of us living with a disability in the world.

I am thankful I could help my sister.

She has stuff to do to get ready for a friend’s wedding next month and she finds it hard to get a lot of it done at home, as she always becomes distracted by stuff that needs to get done around her house.

At mine, I could hold the baby and she could work. Not a bad deal.

I am thankful for yet another helpful violin lesson.

I picked up the second line to Minuet 3 easier than I thought. I really do love this song.

It did require me to use my fourth finger, which is not strong at all. It is difficult to stretch a fourth on the string.

I am thankful for a lovely Easter surprise from my friendly new neighbour.

I was not expecting the gesture of beautifully wrapped chocolates, in tissue paper, with a bow.

She wrote a lovely note with it.

I am thankful for another enlightening episode of Anne.

This one revealed more about characters like Gilbert. This is better than I could have imagined. I love knowing more about people, even fictional people.

I am thankful for the beautifully written verbal audio descriptions on several Canadian television channels, like the CBC when I’m trying to watch an Anne episode.

“The Woman is elegantly dressed and has a kind face.”

I am thankful Canada got something before the U.S. for a change.

Yeah, I said it.

I didn’t realize this one is the same one premiering on Netflix soon.

Either way, it should appear first on Canadian television, as it is our story after all.

I am thankful for women in history who made Canada better.

A novel idea for the 19th century: women are capable of talking about serious issues – Who is Kit?
        
I am thankful I could find out that there seems to be no problem with my plans to try zip lining.

My fear was that they would be hesitant to let anyone try it who is blind. So far, according to the woman I spoke to and her manager, if I will be with a group it shouldn’t be an issue.

I am thankful for the rain and for the warming April weather.

Spring is in the air and you can feel it.

I am thankful for Easter chocolate.

I don’t know what I think about religion. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the world powers, drunk on their desperation for even more. I don’t know what I am doing in my own life even.

I do know I am thankful.

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Stay Away From The Bleach #AtoZChallenge

The obvious choice of words for today’s letter, for me, would be literature. Oh, I do love literature – a lot to say there.

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But I decided to go with the practical and that which is at the forefront of my mind today.

The A to Z Challenge – L is for Laundry

I need to do laundry.

Not such an uncommon thing to be done, but one of the biggest topics people ask me about, as in how I handle life as a blind woman, comes down to dressing myself and doing my own laundry.

It makes a difference, if you knew how much vision I still have, but this is a strictly how-its-done post. I see slightly more when I turn on the light down by my washer and dryer.

I know my own clothes. I know when I got it, where, and I’ve likely asked what colour each piece of clothing is. I can tell if it is dark or light. I remember by the materials and the necklines and the shape of each piece. I sort into darks and lights, sweatshirts and towels, and pink/red/purples.

If all else fails, I use the handy App on my phone which takes a picture of something and, within a few seconds to a minute, a response comes back which tells me what the picture shows. This usually identifies the colour as well.

We won’t mention the time, back when I shared a house and a washing machine with my sister, that I accidentally knocked the bleach onto her pile of reds. Oops.

As a rule, no more bleach in this house. It’s just not worth it. Well, off to sort and put in my first load of things.

With a few exceptions, most things aren’t as big a deal or as difficult as people might think, but when you get asked a question enough times, you start to realize some have no idea of how things work in the world of the sightless.

***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.

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TToT: April Showers and Scoops and Slurs, #NationalSiblingsDay #10Thankful

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

The birds have been keeping me sane all week.

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Their songs, tweets, chirps, and twittering melodies have calmed me, any moment I felt anxious about a bit of a difficult week.

It was Billie Holiday’s birthday. Her voice brings me back to a different time.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for a glimpse into an unfamiliar place.

The Colours of Kenya

Love the colours.

I meant to include this last week. Lizzi wrote this incredible story about her time in Kenya. If you haven’t read it, you should.

I am thankful for tall mountain pose.

Someone who knows a lot more about yoga than me found this one. I’ve been trying it out. The woman describes the poses well, though I don’t know I am all that good at following the instructions. The deep breathing is the nice part.

The music in the background is rather soothing, but for the clanging bell sound that makes me think of that warning bell you hear at a train track as a train comes near. Not so relaxing for me. Kind of triggering.

I am thankful for a challenging week.

I have been doing A to Z for the first time and this week has been rather fun. I’ve not put too much pressure on myself with it.

I am thankful for an opportunity to share a little piece of myself.

It Was All a Blur #MyBlindStory

I am thankful for a night out at an author reading which involved some helpful men who showed me through the library and a kind word from an author, on a night I almost missed out on entirely.

It had been a rather bad week and I almost backed out and stayed hidden at home. If I’d received the rejection to a writing pitch I would receive while I was at said author reading, or if I’d heard the unsettling news that would come later on that night involving 45 and missile strikes, I may have chosen to stay hidden. Thankfully, I hadn’t. It was a rainy night, but I am glad I braved it anyway.

“Ann Walmsley author of the Prison Book Club will be sharing her experience of becoming a book club volunteer at men’s prisons in Ontario. This incredible book recently won the Edna Staebler award in 2016. One juror Bruce Gillespie quoted: “Walmsley’s book provides a unique glimpse into the lives of incarcerated men and the transformative power of literature and fellowship.” Featured several times on CBC it is truly a honour to have her come to Woodstock Public Library.”

After the reading, I introduced myself to the author and bought a copy of her book. I spoke to her about being a writer and she gave me a bookmark with her email and told me I could email her if I ever had any questions about writing.

http://www.annwalmsley.com

I am thankful for scoops and slurs.

I have moved on from Brahms’ Lullaby and on to learning a song I didn’t recognize from my teacher’s description, until she played a little of it and a song that came, preprogrammed on my brother’s little keyboard from childhood, it all came back to me. I love the different violin techniques in this one. It will be a challenge, but one I am quite excited about taking on.

There are scoops when playing the violin. Going from one string to another.

Not all slurs are nice, but the one that occurs in this song is a new technique to me.

I am thankful for family members who are handy and generous with their talents and time.

A leak somewhere in my shower, dripping water down through my ceiling and into my living room are a different sort of April showers. Keep that outside my home preferably.

I have an uncle and cousin who do this sort of thing, fixing showers and leaks for desperate nieces and cousins like me.

The machine they had to use up in my ceiling was loud and reminded me of a dentist’s drill. Again, triggering.

Now I have a layer of dust over everything, including my books, but all is well again.

I am thankful for a day of family, an early Easter/birthday celebration.

Family days include fun, laughter, children playing, and scoops of vanilla ice cream.

I am thankful for my siblings and the siblings (my nieces and nephews) who have each other.

My nephew now has a sister, a sibling, and all of them have a friend for life.

This makes my list every year (National Siblings Day) and every year it is more and more true.

This year mine are willing to do something special with me in a few months, zip lining alongside Niagara Falls, to celebrate my twenty-year anniversary of my kidney transplant.

They are the best.

I am thankful for a surprise phone call from a friend.

I was tired, after this week, but it was nice to talk and catch up.

It’s been raining, off and on, all day long. This is April – to be expected. Not so bad.

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Pocket Full of Miracles, #Apple #iPhone #AtoZChallenge

I haven’t done this before. I likely won’t follow the rules because I sometimes like to break those.

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But I wanted to try this, to have fun with it, and so here I go.

My theme, on my first try, will be whatever I feel like, as random as random can be, though I am sure I missed the theme reveal.

An item I own that can do all my iPhone can do is a miracle, when I think back to technology growing up.

It is my communication with the outside world. Communication device in my pocket. It is my answer to most questions. It talks and I must use the touch screen, dictate, swipe left and swipe right.

Thank you, Apple, for giving me the keys to a world filled with possibility. And for being the first: “A” entry in
April’s A to Z Challenge
and I know I will miss something, but I am taking it one day at a time.

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