Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Why libraries are good places for Aspies

As an Aspie who visits their local community library often, I have found it is a good place to go for my sensory challenges. You have to plan what day you go though, or you might find you go there on a day where there is lots happening, so more noise. Like I did last Saturday for my book launch; there were 2 other events happening the same day, so there was more noise than normal. I usually my client on a Monday, and it is quieter then. People come and go and use computers, but it is quieter so I can hear what my client is telling me.

I also think the bigger library the less noise you will get. There will be more space to move around, so other people won't disturb you with noise. The lights aren't too bad either.

So, libraries are good places for Aspies to go, esp if you are a writer like me, and want to meet up with others to talk.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Book launch for Billy and the Sparkling Socks

So, on Saturday I had my book launch for Billy, along with my writing coachee, John Caritas (his pen name) who I had helped write and publish his first picture book. How did it go? Quite well, I believe. I got there early so I could set up my table. I put my book, my hand-made leaflets about Asperger's and poster about its price on the table. John had a smaller table. It started at 11am. A few people came in, had a look then went on to the arts stall at the back of the library. There was a group of ladies knitting there too. The lady behind the cafĂ© bought copies of John's book, then asked me to hold 2 of mine for her because she didn't have the money. I said I would and took the names of the children they were for. Short while later another lady came up to us. She gave us the name of an organisation who deal with children's books about equality and diversity and thought that mine would be ideal for them. I took the details down in my notepad (I have just emailed them via their website). Later on another lady came along and was v interested in what I was doing about raising awareness of Asperger's with my book. She said that she had just started running an organisation at the library helping young people with special needs and felt that I would be ideal for giving a talk. She took both of my leaflets and a postcard and my details, I took hers, and she took John's. We shall wait and see if anything happens about that one. My friend, Samantha Yagis (Hi, Sam) came in at the start. She bought a copy of each of our books and stayed all the time I was there, chatting to us. In the afternoon, just as the knitting ladies were about to leave, I thought, let's see who has grandchildren. One of the ladies came up to my table. She had older grandchildren, so I gave her postcards promoting my other books. One of the other ladies was interested and she bought a book which I duly signed.

Oh yes, how could I forget. One of the male volunteers there mentioned that he was setting up an internet radio from the library again in the new year. We became interested in having an interview for it. So, another promo opportunity. I think next time I see John at the end of the month we might have our interviews recorded. Exciting times.

So, all in all, even though I only sold a few copies of Billy, I felt it was quite a success, making contacts and leads for raising awareness of Asperger's.

So, my motto is for you authors: make the most of your library.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Me & Asperger's - the Masterclass venue

I am now going to post about what the venue was like for me as an Aspie. The pub called the Theodore Bullfrog is v near Charing Cross train station, but you couldn't hear the trains. It is down a side road, so you can't hear the traffic. But the room is above the working pub, so when it gets busy you can hear the customers downstairs, even with the doors shut. The room is quite big with room to walk around in and talk to others you know if you want to. The lighting is OK, it's not that dark. The only real noise you get is the clattering of the cooking in the kitchen which is upstairs too off the function room. So the staff often come in and out, through the room where you are. So, this might put some people off. I was OK with it as I have been there before so knew what to expect.

As I have said, it is v near the train station - just a couple of minutes walk down the road. Travelling isn't that bad, it being in a central location. That time of day (mid-morning and late afternoon), there weren't too many other passengers on the trains, so that wasn't bad either.

All in all. The location and venue of the talk is OK for me as an Aspie. The only gripe I had was the choice of food for me who is intolerant to dairy and gluten. All I could have and ordered was a bowl of cherry tomatoes and roasted peppers, which was OK and healthy. I took my own sandwiches and snacks.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

How to write funny for children

Last Saturday I went to Charing Cross to learn how to write funny books for children by Mo O'Hara. This was a SCBWI Masterclass. I learnt lots. I am only going to give you the main points I learnt as we were told we can't give out all the details. So here they are.

Keep asking questions. Keep saying yes. Eg if your character wants to run and win the marathon, they will do anything to get there.
Make your readers recognise your character in what they do.

1. No swearing
2. Can't talk about things that children won't understand. You have to look into children's world to see what's funny to them. Eg what makes sense to adults but children can think ludicrous.
3. Has to be the kid's pov, literally. Can be looking up to someone and seeing their nose.
3. Don't write mean comedy. Eg at someone's expense. Being fair is important to children. Don't put children down. Have justice and kind humour.

I got an idea how to write funny scenes in a series about asperkids I have in mind.

Writing funny has three main components: who, where (plot) and when (timing)

We were given exercises then to so.

Other components are: incongruity (someone out of their usual zone), status. So when you are writing, ask yourself: What is the status of my character? Do I have much variety in status?

We were given more exercises to do, which were fun. One of these gave me an idea for a possible series of picture books.

In series fiction the character only learns a bit, but in stand-alone they learn a lot.

Make it tough for the character. Think of worst thing that can happen and make it happen.

First draft - ask, is this character funny? Have I put them in a setting that's funny? If potential, make funnier.
Have a checklist for when you do your second draft. This should include: character who has fears, objectives and status, setting, confined space, comic potential and conflict potential.
Next edit should be the punch edit. Make more funnier. Think rule of 3: Punchline is at the third time.
Recurring theme/gag. Elude to it to get a big laugh.
In dialogue, have repetition. Emphasis - strong, silence - for pausing.
Don't overuse asides. Only put in what the character would really do. Read it out. Use surprise.

I learnt a lot. But there was one thing I did come away with, and that was I do enjoy writing for children more than adults now. So, thanks, Mo. Great workshop.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Me & Asperger's - the RNA talk venue

I am now posting about what the venue was like as an Aspie. The journey wasn't too bad - there wasn't too many people on the train and tube when I went (different story coming home). I found the venue easily as I'd been there once before. Usually when I have been somewhere once and know I am going again, I remember the route. The talk was at the Sir John Balcombe pub in Marylebone. There is the pub upstairs with the function room downstairs. There was music going on in the pub but it wasn't too loud and you couldn't hear it from down below. There wasn't any music downstairs. It had twinkling lights on, so if you don't like lights then it wasn't for you. It was fine for me. No noise, low lights. The seats were spread about, so people talking didn't get too much for me.

All in all, except the travelling by bus, train and tube, the venue was OK for me as an Aspie. I will go there again.

Monday, 12 September 2016

How to stay in control of your story by Jean Fullerton

On Saturday I went to Marylebone to the RNA SE chapter meeting to listen to a talk by Jean Fullerton about how to stay control of your story esp romances. Here are the main points I wrote down:

1. It is about structure. You have to have a structure to your story.
2. You need an inciting moment
3. Then rising action
4. A turning point and black moment (doesn't have to be the main character's)
5. Lastly, falling action leading to the resolution

If you get stuck (usually about either Chapter 5 or 8), try going back to the start of the story and read it.

Ask what your main character's motivation/goal is.

If you want to include back story, drip feed it in, not do an info dump.

If you write in a certain genre or time period, readers will expect the rest of your books to be like that. Don't disappointment them.

It had been my first time to a chapter meeting this year, and I enjoyed it. Esp as I met a friend of mine there and we chatted as we walked back to the tube station. Might go again next time.

Next post will be about what the venue was like for an Aspie (me).

Monday, 5 September 2016

Me and Asperger's - Tone of voice

One of the challenges that people with Asperger's have is social communication, and that can mean their voice can sound rude or abrupt without intention. This happened to me last week at the local newsagent when I got the paper. I went in there, picked up the paper and went to pay for it behind another woman. I saw another older woman there who was choosing crisps. I also saw food on the counter which I thought belonged to the other woman in front of me. The older woman went to move in front of me and I said to her, I'm in the queue. I have just the paper and the exact money. The other woman turned round and accused me of being rude. She paid for her goods and left. I tried to explain by saying I have Asperger's but it was too late. The other woman let me pay for the paper. I apologised to her and she said I didn't need to. I left and went home. It upset me so much that it went round and round my head to the point I was in tears. When my mum came home, I asked her what she would have done, but she realised about the food on the counter and said that people do that there, buy some things, go and find more then pay later. Later on she said that if she had been with me she would have said a few choice words to that woman. Wanting to get it off my chest, I also mentioned it to a Facebook group of women with Asperger's to see what their reactions were. They all agreed that the first woman was rude not me. One comment I got, from the founder of the group, was that at times like that, she felt she needed to wear a T-shirt that said, 'I have Asperger's what is your reason for poor social skills.'. LOL. This gave me an idea. This all gave me peace of mind about the situation. It still upsets me to think about it, but I have decided a couple of things:

1. Not to try to get in that situation again.
2. Made me determined to raise awareness of Asperger's even more, esp about me.
3. I might buy a card that tells others that I am on the autism spectrum and what it means.

So I will be blogging more about Asperger's, writing more about it inc in short stories, and mention it a lot at my new book's launch in a few week's time along with hand-made cards and leaflets about ASD, and I will be posting on FB and Twitter about it too, sharing posts. I also am thinking of other merchandise to sell to raise awareness.