Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Autism is Not an Illness

A Facebook status has been making the rounds lately, posted by the well-meaning folks who want to show how much they care about others who suffer quietly.  It reads as follows: 

“Hard to explain to someone who has no clue. It's a daily struggle being in pain or feeling sick on the inside while you look fine on the outside. Please put this as your status for at least 1 hour if you or someone you know has an invisible illness: addiction, crohn's, ptsd, anxiety, bipolar, depression, diabetes, lupus, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, ME, Arthritis, Cancer, Heart Disease, Epilepsy, Autism, M.D., Histiocytosis etc. Never judge what you don't understand, I know which of my friends will copy and paste.” 

Now, I completely understand the kind sentiment behind this statement.  And I appreciate that some people do care about those who are suffering from some ‘invisible’ issue that makes life difficult.  But at the same time, this status infuriates me and my husband because it lists autism as an illness. 

Autism is not an illness.  As defined on the PubMed Health site, it is “... a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life, and affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills ... Autism is a physical condition linked to abnormal biology and chemistry in the brain.” 

Autism also often means extreme sensitivity to one’s environment.  Loud noises, chaotic visuals like a crowded store, and the feeling of certain textures can drive someone who is on the autism spectrum into overload. 

As the parent of a child with autism, I am perhaps more concerned with the proper definition than most.  The issue for me is the immense amount of misinformation out there.  And when that lack of accuracy continually presents itself over and over, it drives me up the wall. 

Those with autism are not contagious.  They are not suffering a malady that came from nowhere.  They are not ailing.  They were born this way, with a brain wired differently from the neuro-typical human.  And while it is a daily struggle for them to connect with a world that often doesn’t understand them, they are not ill. 

My six year old is a gifted boy with talents in art, singing, and mechanics.  His grasp of reading and math is ahead of most of his peers.  Yes, he deals with frustration by screaming.  His ability to talk to others in an interactive manner is limited.  He operates on pure impulse much of the time, which he has no control over.  But I wouldn’t change him or ‘cure’ him for all the world, because he is perfect.  Do I wish he had an easier life?  Of course.  Do I worry he will be ostracized by a society because he is the square peg trying to fit into its round holes?  Absolutely.  But he is such a unique, amazing person that I can’t imagine him any different than he is.  I trust that he will overcome his challenges in time, as most of us must, and he will be stronger for it. 

He is not sick, and putting him and others like him in that category is harmful to their self-esteem.  People with autism are not ill.  They simply deserve kindness and patience, as we all do.  If you must comment on people on the spectrum, please educate yourselves about them before you do so.  The greatest kindness you can do for those with development disorders is to not share incorrect information about them.  You may have noble intentions, but without knowing what you’re talking about, you are doing more harm than good.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - The Willow and the Stone

Geraldine contained her giggles until the door shut behind him.  Then she clapped her hands to her mouth.  Her eyes streamed, and laughter coursed through her body. She rocked back and forth, shaking with glee.  "Good doggy," she giggled.  "That's my good little doggy." 

Available from Amazon and Smashwords

Friday, October 26, 2012

First Five Friday - The Prophet and the Crown II: Descent

Scene 4

            Owen hit the ‘end’ button on his phone, finished with the call.  A call he wished he’d missed.  His supervisor, mentor, and friend Reverend Zachary Brown, was dead. 
            Owen had been nerving himself up to contact Zachary.  He was overdue to check in, a condition of his sudden sabbatical from preaching at the church.   

Release date not determined

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Just for Fun

The silly stuff on the web that made me laugh this week:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - The Prophet and the Crown 2: Descent (WIP)

            Even Jordan’s gift had fallen silent.  Mama used to tell her the visions came from God Himself.  Jordan had seen a great many future things that had come true.  Sometimes they were good things, like a new dress Mama would be secretly making to surprise her.  Sometimes they were bad things, like the neighbor’s puppy getting run over in the road.  Jordan had even seen the people and angel coming for her, the people who would take her away from Mama, away from the only home Jordan had ever known. 

Release date not determined

Friday, October 19, 2012

First Five Friday - The Prophet and the Crown I: The Fallen

Chapter 4

            Owen sat in his recliner in the soft glow of the lamp, staring at the late night darkness pressed against the window.  Night had always felt like a physical presence to Owen, and this night weighed heavier than any he’d known.
            He’d been drafted into God’s service by an angel.  As mad as it seemed, it was the only thing that made sense.   

Release date not determined

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Traditional vs. Self-Publishing

I’ve now had the opportunity to have my books traditionally published as well as trying out the self-publishing route.  With Willow in the Desert (the sequel to the award-winning The Willow and the Stone) now in the hands of my proofreaders, I’m faced with the question of which one I’d like to go with.

Here’s the issue with traditional publishing in my opinion:  it’s like a brand name label you slap on a product.  People perceive that if a publishing house puts it out, the writing and story are automatically good.  The literary gods have smiled upon that writer and deemed them worthy.  The editing and marketing will be top notch and the work is destined to be a bestseller. 

Wrong.  Even the big publishers are becoming a mockery of themselves these days.  For one thing, when a book is initially released, they make even the e-book version stupidly expensive.  Yes, it’s a business.  Yes, they have to make money.  But it feels like a slap in the face to have publishing houses digging greedily into my wallet, drooling for every penny they can find.  I refuse to pay more for an e-book than what a paperback goes for. 

Next fallacy about the traditional publishers:  that they will market your writing.  Wrong, unless you’re Stephen King, John Grisham, or J.K. Rowling.  Nope, if you’re a midlist writer, all the promoting and marketing is up to you.  You’ve got to draw the readers in and make them take notice.  At least half your time (if you’re serious about this stuff) is spent marketing.

My biggest bitch about the traditional publishing world:  editing.  I’m a fan of the Sookie Stackhouse series (upon which the HBO series True Blood is based).  I have every single book except the latest one -- because the ebook is still at the hardcover price.  Now this is a bestselling series with a large well-known publisher.  So I’m horrified when I see the many editing snafus present in these books.  In certain places, it’s like the editor was drunk when they looked it over.  It’s awful.

The hard, cold truth of it is being traditionally published is it’s like paying contractors a huge amount of money ... more than half of what your work will earn ... to present your thousands of hours of writing to the public in such a way that they will buy it.  Sure, there are plenty of books that publishers will spend more to produce than they’ll make back.  I know that.  In too many cases however, you’re paying for crap.  When there are massive formatting errors, a cover that doesn’t represent the story at all, and poor editing, why would anyone bother to sign a contract?  It’s like having your work spit on.  And you’re essentially paying them to do it with the tiny percentage you receive on sales.

My own two books, finally accepted by a small but established publisher, were similarly mistreated.  The formatting for both the print and e-book versions were completely horrid.  The e-books were eventually straightened out, but who knows how my sales were affected in those first days before they were?  And the publisher has mis-categorized them both as ‘Romance’ with no apparently no interest in correcting that.  Also a sales killer.  Now the books are out of print, and I found out about it by accident ... no one from the publisher bothered to tell me this was going to happen. 
I’ve checked into what it takes to do this publishing thing right, and quite honestly it’s not that difficult.  Unfortunately, I signed a three-year contract for both books, so it will be awhile before I can get them back and start over.

So I’m going to self-publish Willow in the Desert, coming out in the new year.  I already have a cover artist who is amazing at what she does.  The rest I will be doing myself and the results are going to be much better. 
The biggest problem will be that for many, self-published writer = hack who’s not good enough to be traditionally published.  So be it.  I’m proud of my writing.  I worked very hard on it, and those who have read my books and talked to me about them have had nothing but praise.  Heaven knows, traditional publishing has been a big disappointment, so as far as I’m concerned, I have nothing to lose and a lot of happiness to gain.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - The Prophet and the Crown I: The Fallen

           The stranger allowed the drunk to lean on its arm.  The man peered up at his face with eyes set in nests of wrinkles.  We ain’t been properly innerduced.  I’m Richard, but folks call me Buck.  What’s your name?” 
            “I don’t know.” 
Release date not determined

Friday, October 12, 2012

First Five Friday - Lilith’s Return (WIP)

Chapter 3

            Uncle Jacob had come home with his brother and sister-in-law, leaving the capable Marta to close up shop at the funeral home.  Lena didn’t miss how the three had sagged with relief to see her waiting for them in the garage, safe and unharmed.

            For her part, Lena could have wept to see her mother still walking among the living.  Superstitiously, she’d half believed Lilith had somehow sensed her reading the news story and managed to follow the thread of the young woman’s horror to track down Alex.  It was all Lena could do to not fly into her mother’s arms when Alex got out of the big Lincoln’s passenger seat. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hate Much?

You know, I try not to get political publicly, because I don’t see the sense in it.  Most people have made their decisions as far as who they feel is the best candidate or party, and they have their reasons for that.  Good.  Fine.  That’s what this country was built on, and it’s that right to self-govern we fought for.

But I have to say something about what I'm seeing on social media these days.  The stuff friends feel compelled to email me.  Seriously, people.  Get a grip.  All this hate language because someone doesn’t believe like you do is ridiculous.  Calling each other names and mindlessly ranting because someone doesn’t match up to your ideal isn’t going to convince me to vote for your candidate.  Indeed, you’ll most likely make me run the other way.  People I otherwise respect are swallowing their parties’ rhetoric without bothering to think for themselves.  It’s like everyone decided to drink the Kool-Aid whether they’re Republican or Democrat, simply because Fox News or the Huffington Post or some other agency with an agenda told them to.  Even the most outlandish swipes against the opposing party are being treated like gospel.

And those swipes are just plain ugly.  Many with unfounded claims.  Some with outright lies.  The parties’ followers trot them out like facts and tell the rest of us we’re morons, even evil, if we don’t fall in line with their party or candidate.

Do you want to impress me with who you want to take or stay in office?  Then tell me your candidates’ selling points.  Tell me the good they’ve done and the good they’re hoping to do ... and have the facts and numbers to back this stuff up.  Explain intelligently to everyone why your party is the best thing since sliced bread.  But do NOT tell us how all of one group of people are evil or liars or absolute idiots.  Do not slander the opposition with unfounded rumors just because you don’t want them elected.  If you do, I will shut my ears to your ugliness and the rabid, blind hatred that has consumed you.  Your crazed zealotry has made it impossible for you to hold up your end of an intelligent conversation.

There is good and bad in each person.  In each party.  In each race.  In each religion.  Deal with it.  The person or group on the other end of the spectrum are no saints, but neither are they Satan incarnate.  Every single individual, including the one who dares to not agree with you, who may even challenge you, is simply another human being moving through life. 

You don’t agree with everything your spouse/child/parent believes.  Do you denounce them with hateful words, accept what perfect strangers with their own agendas tell you about them, or do you have the sense to accept the differences because you know they are decent people who deserve the freedom of their own opinions?  Why should you treat anyone else differently just because they are not a part of your inner circle?  Why is it suddenly all right for you to cast stones ... big, heavy stones with the intent to do irreparable harm?  To make others feel defensive and hurt? 

You do realize that all you are accomplishing is to get the people on the other side to dig in their heels more than ever and get ugly right back at you, right?  That you are giving them proof that your side is the one that is hateful/evil/stupid?  Seriously, when was the last time someone called you an idiot and you thanked them for pointing it out?  Why do you expect them to listen to you slamming their views and calling their intelligence into question?

Do you want to know who gets my vote in the next election?  Really?  Tough.  It’s none of your business, buster, because I cannot have a decent conversation with you on the subject.  You are blind and deaf to all but your own cause, and this lack of an open heart will only destroy our friendship.

You do not have to be a savage to tell us how you’re feeling.  You do not have to be a raving maniac towards the opposition.  Be courteous.  Invite discussion.  That way you may impart something your listeners didn’t know and will be open to hearing.  Allow them to return the favor.  Be civilized, for heaven’s sake.  Too many of you are acting like spiteful animals, quick to bite even the hands of those you call friends.  And if you can’t get a grip, then I’ll see and talk to you after the election when you’ve recovered some of the manners you had before this got started. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday - Lilith’s Return

           Alex Lasham wasn’t a petite woman, but next to her husband and daughter, she seemed as fragile as a china doll.  Sunshine blond hair and blue eyes added to her wholesome, girl-next-door appearance.  Without one drop of demon blood in her, she still looked younger than Colwyn despite her forty-eight years of age.  She also looked sweet and innocent, nothing like the cold-blooded killer she sometimes too easily turned into.   Of the three of them, she was the most lethal.  For that matter, Lena had never met anyone else half as deadly as her mother.

Release date not determined

Friday, October 5, 2012

First Four Friday - Lilith

Chapter 17

            Colwyn sat in a hospital waiting room.  He stared at the television in the corner but didn’t see the mindless soap opera that played on its screen.  Beside him, Jacob paged through a hunting magazine for the fifth time.  Jacob didn’t hunt.

Available from Amazon and Smashwords