>I’ve been working on guest posts for a few different sites this past week. I have links to three of them to share.
I Love To Laugh over at DisCo: Disability Conversations. That’s one of my regular guest blogging places and it’s about crip humour and a funny moment at last week’s creative writing class.
A while ago I was looking for books with disabled characters. One of the books which got mentioned several times was Gridlock by Ben Elton so I got it from the library. Then, Sarah who runs Same Difference mentioned that she was looking for reviews of books with disabled characters so I wrote a review of it and sent it to her. You can read it at A Review of Ben Elton’s Gridlock
Nadine Dorries is a trending topic on twitter today following some ridiculous comments she made. I’ve written a response on Disability Voices – Twitter, Disabled People and Benefit Fraud? As an interesting side note, I tweeted the link to that 15 mins ago and it’s already been retweeted 10 times, the most any one tweet of mine has.
>Good: Writing a To Do List of writing tasks
Bad: Realising I have more writing tasks to do then I thought I did
Good: Getting three things done off the to do list
Bad: Showing the list to Mum and having her point out I missed something off of it
Good: having a clean house
Bad: cleaner (male) calling me love and “my love” so many times I lost track
Good: No one has cancelled sailing for tonight
Bad: High probability of getting there to discover it’s off
Good: Starting a lovely new knitting piece
Bad: Not being quite sure if you’ve gone wrong with said knitting and if you have, where you did.
Good: Weight this morning was 17st and half a pound
Bad: Can’t find the piece of paper so I can’t work out the difference from last week
Good: Squashed fly biscuits and diet lemonade
Bad: nothing really
>Last week, Mike from Artist Inlet Press contacted me to ask if I would write something for that site. His only request was that I should write about something I’m passionate about.
I’ve been trying to do lots of writing and make progress with it over the last few weeks so I jumped at the chance to write that piece. It’s not a site I’d been to before but I’ve been reading some of it since then and it’s got some very well written, lovely essays on there. I’m pleased to have been asked to contribute and know that more people are seeing my writing. I’ve been working on that today and as I wrote about sailing, really enjoying it.
Sail Away is now posted over at Artist Inlet Press. I would welcome your feedback on it.
In terms of other writing, I also posted Don’t Cut Us Out about a Scope campaign over on the Disability Voices blog yesterday. If you live in the UK, please consider taking part in that campaign, it doesn’t take a few minutes to do so.
Scope sent me a tweet saying they love the Disability Voices blog and telling me they follow my blog. Then they did a Follow Friday of “some great disability related bloggers” and included me in that list. I was incredibly flattered and pleased by that.
Finally I’ve set up pages on the sidebar which have links to all my guest blogs and articles which are online and also to my book reviews.
>I wrote a while ago about entering some creative writing competitions. I heard yesterday that I didn’t win the last of them. Which I’m totally fine with, I didn’t expect that. I did pay extra for a critique and whilst a little hard to read it is very useful. I do agree with a lot of what the critique says although this remains a piece I am proud of. I thought I would share it below. As yet I haven’t made any changes. Feedback is welcome
“You have the run of my home” said Lady Howlett ending her welcoming speech and sweeping gracefully from the room.
The run of this house? If only. Claire thought.
The idea of spending a night in a haunted house and winning £1,000,000 for doing so had seemed a great one. An easy way to make a lot of money and probably have a laugh as she did so. The night had barely begun and already it seemed there was a problem.
They’d known when she applied that she was a wheelchair user. She’d been assured that there was access. Even when she’d asked pointed questions about ramps and whether she’d be able to get her wheelchair into the disabled loo, they’d stuck to their vow that they could accommodate her.
All she needed to worry about, they told her, was whether she really could spend the night in a certified haunted house. The fact that they made such a big deal of it being “certified” had amused her. How did they get it certified? Claire didn’t believe in ghosts and she’d hoped to prove they didn’t exist. The people who certified it as haunted weren’t trustworthy. It wasn’t as if the council had rules and regulations (no less than two sightings a week, for a year) and an official haunted house inspector who had to sign off on these things. She’d thought it would be easy.
Claire hadn’t been surprised that the access wasn’t exactly as she expected. It rarely was. However, this was something she hadn’t encountered before – surprising given she’d been in the chair for 42 years and thought she’d seen it all.
The gravel entrance hadn’t phased her, nor had the steps. Ramped access is often around the back, by the bins, or otherwise out of sight. So she’d waited.
Angelo had returned about half an hour later and with the help of another silently hulking man had carried her up the steps into the house. She’d protested that a lot as there’s nothing worse then being in somewhere you can’t get out of and knowing you’re trapped. Her words had been ignored and she’d been taken against her will into the house.
There she was, apparently, she had the run of the house, but in truth, she probably didn’t. It looked as though she wouldn’t be able to get out of the room she was in without help. Everyone else in the room was milling around looking at the windows and heading towards the door. They were all ignoring everyone else as well. This was going to be a long evening. A boring evening it seemed. Just one hour later Claire realised just how wrong she’d been.
First, she’d decided to have a good look around the room they were in. It was a big room with lots of art on the walls so that took a good 15 minutes. She was one of two people left in the room at that time – the other person was steadfastly ignoring her so she simply did the same. That was unlike her; she was an extrovert and found it very hard to shut up. Something told her however that this wasn’t the place to go making friends and being nice, it wouldn’t go down very well with the other contestants. Getting out of that room proved easier than she expected. The step she thought she’d seen turned out to be nothing. Strange, but she accepted it. It wouldn’t be until later that she realised just how strange that was.
Then Claire had figured that seeing as she was going to be there all night she’d go find out where the loo is. It’s always worth doing these things ahead of time. Particularly when you need a disabled loo – don’t want to be discovering that it’s locked and no one knows where the key is when you’re absolutely bursting for a wee.
She didn’t expect that this was the sort of place where it would people would be having sex in it if it wasn’t locked (why was that, was there some sort of weird places to have sex scorecard doing the rounds? 50 points for a disabled loo!) but you never know.
That was the first sign that the steps weren’t the only problem she was to face that day. She never found the loo.
She spent thirty minutes looking for it. To be fair, it wouldn’t have taken that long to search all the places she did but she kept getting distracted. Firstly, by all the art and other things she spotted. Lady Howlett had some really unusual – and unexpected – items in her home. And secondly by a really strange feeling. It was creepy – a cold sort of tickly sensation crawling up her back and making her hair stand on end. She shook it off – she had to, she didn’t believe in ghosts! There would be an explanation she knew, she just needed to find it. But first to find the loo.
At the end of the thirty minutes, she came across Angelo standing silently at attention in the hall. Claire wasn’t sure why he was stood in that particular spot in front of a blank piece of wall (she was later to realise, the only blank piece of wall she saw in the entire house). Wandering over she spoke to him
“Hi Angelo. It is Angelo, isn’t it?” He didn’t answer, didn’t even blink. Unnerved she continued “Um, well, anyway. I was wondering if you could tell me where the disabled loo is? I’ve been looking for a while and I’ve been everywhere I can see. But I can’t find it.”
Angelo shrugged as though he didn’t care. It was a strange sight and it infuriated Claire.
“Maybe you could go find out where it is if you don’t know?” she asked, she’d experienced this lack of knowledge from staff members before – too many times to count. “Only I know there is one because I asked before I came. The person I spoke to told me there was one and I’d be fine.”
Angelo stared at her for a full minute. Just when Claire was beginning to think this was useless he suddenly moved his left arm and pointed. He didn’t say a word and after waiting briefly to see if there was more to come Claire simply turned and started going in the direction he pointed.
She was very confused and more than a little angry not least because he had pointed back the way she came where there definitely wasn’t a disabled loo. It seemed she had no choice but to do that.
A few minutes later she was beginning to calm down and she suddenly realised that she’d come further than she had before. In fact there hadn’t been enough building to go this far before.
Claire didn’t believe in ghosts. She really didn’t. But she was beginning to get a little bit freaked out by all of this.
Suddenly a little bit ahead she spotted that familiar sign that signifies disabled parking and disabled loos worldwide. The little guy in the wheelchair with his arms out in front like a zombie. She was pleased she’d started looking for the loo when she had because now she really was heading towards the desperate stage of things.
Opening the door, Claire couldn’t see any of the usual items you’d expect in a disabled loo. No bins or grab rails. And, no loo. She figured that maybe it was a bit further on so she went in. The door slammed behind her ominously.
Wheeling back and then back further Claire was astounded by how far she’d come. She’d been able to see that this was a big room but hadn’t expected something as big as this.
All of a sudden, Claire felt a weird buzzing sensation surround her. Her vision went fuzzy with lines all across it. That lasted about two, three minutes (although it felt a lot longer). Her ears will filled with a loud ringing sound something like church bells. The result was that Claire was very disorientated. As quickly as it had started, the sensation finished. Claire shook her head to clear the residual feeling. And realised that somehow, unexpectedly, she was back outside the house on the gravel driveway where this had all started.
Screw scared of the ghosts, Claire was scared by what had just happened. And more than a little pissed off. She shouted and shouted for help, shouting herself hoarse in the process. But no one came.
Claire waited all night. It wasn’t until just after dawn that anyone came. Angelo turned up at that point along with his hulking companion. They carried her, protesting, back up the steps into the house and deposited her in front of Lady Howlett.
“Well, Claire, yet another failure to spend the night in my house. I am disappointed. No million for you.”
She explained to Lady Howlett that this wasn’t fair, she hadn’t wanted to leave the house, she’d just wanted to go for a wee.
Lady Howlett made no response to Claire. She just turned to the two men waiting and said
“Get this waste of space out of my sight.”
They picked her up and carried her from the room once more.
Lady Howlett had expected that to be the last she heard from Claire. After all, she’d never had anybody come back at her for failing to win the million before. She’d also never had a mouthy, independent wheelchair user as one of her contestants before.
Claire, however, believed in complaining. Spending most of her life in a wheelchair had taught her that you often were treated badly for being different and that you were just expected to “put up and shut up.” The way she’d been treated by Lady Howlett and her staff was appalling. If she didn’t do something about it, some other wheelchair user was going to have the same horrific experience at some point in the future.
First, she’d tried writing a letter, and then a second when the first was ignored. Unfortunately, that didn’t get a reply either. Unfortunately for Lady Howlett, that is.
Claire’s next step had been to speak to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. They’d been shocked to here of what had happened and had helped her to put in a case for disability discrimination.
Seven months after that, the case came to court. Neither Lady Howlett nor Angelo appeared to dispute the charges. That resulted in Claire automatically winning her case, which the tribunal described as “one of the worst cases of disability discrimination in years”
Claire learned that it really is worth making a stand when you need to. She won £2.1 Million pounds for the discrimination and because she lost the chance to win the original £1 Million prize.
As for Lady Howlett? She never held another of her “Haunted House Nights” nor was she ever heard from again. Claire liked to think that was because she’d learned the lesson of treating people with respect, and that you should, always, always make reasonable adjustments to accommodate people who are disabled. Truthfully, however, she’ll never know.
>I’m down roughly a pound and a half this week (from 17 4lb & 7/8ths to 17 3lb &1/4th and I can’t do that kind of exact maths).
And I just got back (ok, well an hour and a half ago) from swimming.
Must admit that I’m feeling a little fed up with this now, need to make some really progress again and stop hovering.
>What a lovely day!
I’m working my way though a writing to do list (which includes updating this blog) but I never thought I’d be able to sit outside with my netbook and work on it today. Such a great surprise! It does make me wish that I’d realised how warm it is early though.
What else am I working on with my writing?
I started planning my NaNoWriMo novel for this year. I have two ideas at the moment. Unfortunately however they wouldn’t work as a combined story. I am beginning to think the more definite idea I have is probably a long short story and not a novel though. The other idea is a lot vaguer but has the potential to bring a lot of mayhem and madness and a huge variety of characters, all of which could prove very useful in a NaNo novel.
I’m keeping a notebook of stuff that I carry round with me. It has what I’m spending (am keeping track this month), things I need to remember or to do and writing ideas in it. Several writing ideas and a couple of pages on both of my NaNo ideas. One of the others is an idea for a Chalet School fanfic. Which is my first fanfic in years. I started writing it yesterday and I’m enjoying it but I appear to have made a mistake in my facts so it will probably have to be an AU. Not a major one though.
And I’ve got two articles, a short story, a poem and another fanfic (for a different fandom) on my to do list as well. So I’m busy busy but I’m enjoying it.
If this week isn’t the last week of sailing (and I suspect it will be) the week after will be. I’ll miss sailing and more importantly miss the people over the winter. But somehow with the way writing (and reviewing although I don’t have any planned right now) have been going lately I don’t think I’m going to have time to be bored.
>I was given a copy of Breaking The Silence by Diane Chamberlain to review by WHSmith.co.uk. It’s being released at the beginning of next year. This is what WHSmith.co.uk says about it:
Laura Brandon’s promise to her dying father was simple: to visit an elderly woman she’d never heard him speak of before. A woman who remembers nothing – except the distant past. Visiting Sarah Tolley seemed a small enough sacrifice to make. But Laura’s promise results in another death – her husband’s. And after their five-year-old daughter, Emma, witnesses her father’s suicide, Emma refuses to talk about it…or to talk at all. Frantic and guilt-ridden, Laura contacts the only person who may be able to help, a man she’s met only once before – a man who doesn’t know he’s Emma’s real father. Guided only by a child’s silence and an old woman’s fading memories, the two unravel a tale of love and despair, bravery and unspeakable evil. This is a tale that links them all. It is a tale shrouded in silence…
This is a lovely book, really great. It was similar to feel to those by Jodi Picoult although I don’t think she’s done a similar plot to this. I found reading it had a nice feeling for the most part and I really enjoyed it. It was difficult to put it down however and it left me wanting to know what happened to the characters afterwards, even though all the major plot points had been tied up. The characters were just so realistic and alive that it left me wondering what came next for them. However I do think a sequel would ruin it (but I’d love to read one). I especially loved the poignancy of the last line of the book. I won’t share it as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.
This is a tale with twists to it. I did guess one of them but there were at least three major twists I had no idea about. Several of them I didn’t realise were twists coming up and one of them made me gasp in shock when it happened. That’s not to say this is a shocking or scary book because it isn’t. Part of the story does take place in a psychiatric hospital and some of those scenes could be distressing to some as it details treatments involved, some of which were done to patients against their will. From reading a note at the end of the book I believe that similar things did happen although the patients and setting in the book are fictitious.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough, it was fantastic.
>On Tuesday I spent some time researching writing competitions and writing opportunities. And, being cheeky I also asked Scope how they choose their bloggers. The end result being that I’m now one of their bloggers (and I also have one other writing opportunity for another organisation).
You can see my blog on the scope page It comes complete with an old photo – my hair looks nothing like that now but I don’t have a more recent on that isn’t stupid. (Rocky Horror photos I’m looking at you) and a bio. It’s a bit strange writing about yourself in the 3rd person but it’s a very writerly thing to do.
My first post for Scope is called Disability: It’s Not All Negative. Let me know what you think.
>Transworld gave me a copy of The Wish by Sasha Blake to review.
Here’s what Amazon has to say about it:
We all have our dreams. But how far would we go to protect them? Lulu longs for a loving man and father figure for her young son. In a perfect world, this would be her gorgeous boss, Ben Arlington. He is her dream man, and likely to remain so – as he’s also a highly sought after gaming industry millionaire, and engaged to another woman. But not for much longer if Ben’s cold-hearted mother has anything to do with it. Sofia Arlington has a secret to protect, a secret so potentially damaging she’ll do anything to keep it hidden. And now a figure from Sofia’s dark past has been silent for too long. Bessie Edwards is determined to get back what’s rightfully hers. What she’s about to reveal will turn all their glittering lives upside down…
This is a great book, I really enjoyed reading it. On the back there’s a quote from Heat describing it as a “summer bonkbuster”. That’s not to say it’s full of sex sex and more sex, it’s got a few racy bits but it’s also got a plot. But it is very Jackie Collins. And I do like me a Jackie Collins style book so I found it to be an easy, fun read. I don’t mean in a “Jackie Collins has been there and done that with this sort of plot” way just that it’s the style of book she’s written and that thousands of people enjoy reading. Hot romance, gambling, high powered families and crimes. And at least one total bitch of a character.
There was one downside to this book: an R word. Unnecessary and it did annoy me but whilst I would prefer none, at least it was only one and so it didn’t colour my enjoyment of the book too much.
I did guess one of the main twists fairly early on but I hadn’t expected it to be done the way it was when all was revealed! And there were several other key parts of the plot and especially the conclusion that I hadn’t anticipated. The way it goes back and shows the history of one of the characters part way through the book was at first a little surprising as I didn’t expect the sudden switch but then it really helped to see why she was how she was and made her a much better character. Well, I say much better but actually I hated her!! Perhaps I should say it made me hate her more, which I suspect was what the author was aiming for.
I was going to say that this was the first of Sasha Blake’s books I have read and I look forward to reading more. But it turns out that’s not true. I do look forward to reading more but it seems that Sasha Blake is a pseudonym of Anna Maxted and I have read one of hers before (A Tale of Two Sisters). I find the use of pseudonyms in writing very interesting. But that’s a story for another blog…
>I am a little disappointed this week although I’m trying not to be. I’m up 2lb.
It’s probably because I’ve got my period (which given that all the problems I’ve been having with that are likely weight related is a good thing) and I just keep reminding myself about that.
I have exercised every single day this week. Mostly using My Fitness Coach Dance Workout but I’ve also been swimming once and as I mentioned yesterday I did what is for me a lot of walking on Saturday.
Here’s to some downward movement on the scales next week!