Sunday, 21 May 2017

An Aspie at a writing retreat

This time last week I was in W Sussex at a writing retreat eating lunch, which might have been a veggie curry with rice and salad. V nice. So, how did I cope going to a retreat as an Aspie? Well, my brother and his girlfriend came with me to Waterloo as I had to pick up my ticket and didn't know where from or how. I know now it's quite easy. Then they saw me onto the train, making sure I left all right. I travelled on my own but it wasn't too bad as I read from a magazine and looked out the window most of the time. At Haslemere station I met another writer who I had hoped to travel with, but she had got on the train before me. We then were met by two other writers on the retreat and they drove us to the retreat.

There were lots of sessions scheduled for writing, so I was on my own in a room, writing. Sometimes distracted by the sights and sounds of birds around the area, esp the goldfinches. When I felt my head go light, I would get up and walk round the room, or go out to the grounds to get some air. Luckily it was lovely weather all weekend. That did the trick as it helped my head clear and I went back to write more. Break times weren't too bad as we were spread out over the floor so the noise wasn't too great. It was the meal times that were the worst for me. What do you get when you have a lot of writers in a small room? Lots of chatter and noise. I managed to cope with eating my meal and lasting half an hour afterwards. Then I would get up, saying I was going to get some quiet, and walk back to the lounge, where it was quiet until everyone finished their meal. I was tired most days as I never sleep properly elsewhere, esp with a loud dawn chorus. Lol.

Anyway, I managed to write a few chapters of Alistair's story. I think it might reach 2000 words. I wrote half a short story. Got stuck on how to continue it and what the ending is. Think I know now. And I sold 2 copies of Billy, which I took with me, just in case. Both were for autistic children,

I said I might not go again as my mum hasn't been too well and it depends on her health, but she says she'd love me to go as I enjoy it, and I want to go again. We shall see.

So, if you do go on a retreat, and have Asperger's like me, or even an issue with noise, then that is what you can do. Walk about a bit, and get some air if you can. It helped that the house we stayed in is in the middle of trees and bushes so is tranquil. The perfect place to write and get some peace.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The positive things to having an Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis

I am going to answer a few questions that people asked me about having Asperger's. The first is a positive post. I was asked: What are the positive things about my diagnosis? Here they are:

1. As others I know who have been diagnosed late in life, it's a sense of relief. A relief that, as someone else said, after a life of feeling somehow different, you now know why and have a real reason for being that way. When I was diagnosed in 2011, it felt that all the pieces of my life, esp the negative side (not fitting in, difficulty making friends), finally all fit together.

2. Because I know I have Asperger's, and been diagnosed late, I can help others, esp younger Aspies. Giving them tips based on how I was at that age, from school to work. I feel that this is a definite positive thing. This blog is one of those. My new children's fiction 'The Rainbow School' series is also part of this.


3. And lastly, as my author client often tells me, I am good at focussing on what I am good at eg writing and helping indie authors such as him.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Birds Flock Together is now available

A quick post to let everyone know, I have finally got round to publishing 'Birds Flock Together' the final ebook in the Geraldine's Gems series. It is adult magical realism about a woman who has died and gets the chance to go back to Earth to help her family get their lives back on track. Will she succeed in her last mission and earn her rightful place in Heaven? You can find out as it is available at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Birds-Flock-Together-Geraldines-Gems-ebook/dp/B072BDK557/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493640995&sr=8-1&keywords=Birds+Flock+Together

I had fun writing this series, and hope readers have enjoyed it too.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Review of my writing goals

As nearly a quarter of the year has gone already (where did that go?) I thought I'd post a review of how I'm getting on with my goals for this year. So, here we go:

1. Republish Billy. Yes, did that in January. You can find him here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Billy-Sparkling-Socks-Rainbow-School/dp/154264853X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492950556&sr=1-1&keywords=billy+and+the+sparkling+socks

2. Publish 'Birds Flock Together'. Hope to do this next week once I have finished self-editing Qessa's story.

3. Publish Charlie. Hope to do this in June. The cover is currently been designed by my illustrator.

4. Publish Susie. Want to do this near end of year.

5. Write more womag stories. Am doing that.

6. Get a story accepted by Woman's Weekly. This has now changed. I now want to focus on writing for one womag at a time until I get one story published. Have had 2 rejections from them this year.

7. Get a story accepted by The Weekly News. Same as above. I now want to focus on reading and writing for The People's Friend. They still have one of mine. I am currently working on another, then will change the ending of another to send to them too.

I am also going to try writing sci-fi to expand my areas of writing and targets. Now aim to get a story accepted by TPF and a sci-fi mag by end of year.

8. I am keeping my biz expenses up to date.

So, how are your goals for this year doing so far? Let me know.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Me, Asperger's and Adult Meltdowns


Autistic children grow up to be autistic adults. They aren't cured, they don't grow out of it. It stays with us, and sometimes, in the case of me, it can get worse as we get older.

You might have seen films about autistic children having meltdowns in shops, adults can have meltdowns, too. I don't remember having meltdowns as a child (probably did) but I do when I was growing up from a teenager to an adult. Here are a few times.

The first one I really recall was one of my first shopping trips by myself. It was local. I had gone to buy some tapestry bits for doing a cross-stitch tapestry. When I came to pay for them, I realised I didn't have enough money. I was mortified. I left the shop in tears, and without a thing.

Cause: Frustration. Motto – Always take more than enough money when going shopping.

The second example was when I was at work. I had gone for an interview for another job in the same department. It was the written test, and included sums, especially percentages, which I am not good at all. I read it but still couldn't work it out. I got so upset, I ran out of the room in tears and to the nearest toilet. Not a good example for future employers. I was calmed down by my then team manager. I never got the job, and in hindsight, it was a good thing.

Cause: frustration. Motto - If you can't understand something, especially in an interview, I feel that it is best left out. If in doubt, leave it out.

The last example comes from the recent past of a few years ago. My mum and I used to go to the local big Sainsbury's. I used to get IBS within half an hour of starting walking round the aisles, so had to leave my mum to carry on while I went elsewhere. Only, when I came out, I couldn't find her and panicked. This caused me to get upset and cry, making me lose all reasonable thought. When my mum found me, I had a go at her, crying, causing a scene. Definitely a meltdown.

Cause: separation anxiety. Motto - Agree to meet at a particular point in the shop if you get separated. Or the parent to wait outside the toilet. We ended up agreeing to meet in the centre of the store. It worked.

So, adults can have meltdowns. I plan to write out a guide to meltdowns and shutdowns in due course.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Why children can be alone in the playground

One of the questions I was asked to answer here was - why would children behave certain ways. So, I thought I'd post about why children would be seen to be alone in the playground, something I certainly have experience with as a child with Asperger's. So, here I am going to explain why I think it is from what I have read.

Why do some children be alone and not join in with others? This was me when I was at school - both at primary and secondary. I never really understood why until recently when I read about Asperger's and autism. The reason is 'social interaction impairment' and 'social imagination impairment'. This means that a child on the autism spectrum (and adult too) is confused about what to do and say to make friends. When do they speak? What do they say to make someone like them and get them to join in? How do they join in with games?

With me, I either was alone, tagged along with others and did what I was told to do, or played with the younger children at primary school. At secondary school I was just alone, or tagged along with other alone children.

So what do you do when you see a lone child? I am not an expert and don't have a degree about this, I am just saying from reading and experience.

1. Either you can approach the child, from the front and never from behind, and ask them if they want to play.
2. Explain the game to them
3. Or if you aren't sure, then leave them alone.
4. You could watch them to see what they like doing, then one day, talk to them about it.

So, they are my thoughts on this subject.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

My autism event and an interesting question

Yesterday as part of World Autism Awareness Week #WAAW2017 I did an event at my local community library to raise awareness of the condition. I was helped by my friend John Caritas. My author friend, Amanda Lilywhite (Hi, Amanda) came with her autistic daughter and her father as she said she would. We got talking about autism and other things.

Amanda's daughter asked me an interesting question, which I replied, I don't know. She asked me, Why do I have a different autism than her (she has normal autism). I then said it could be genetics as I believe that it is in the genes of our families. (I think I got mine from my dad). I did try to explain using an image of the rainbow, that at one end there is me with Asperger's who can do things for myself which she probably can't, going along to the far end where people can't do things for themselves and have what is called classic autism. This got me thinking about it. I wonder if people are born with different levels of autism in relation to how much autism there can be along their family lines. So, if a child was born with both parents being autistic; one with Asperger's and the other with autism, the child would be more autistic, than say a child born with just one autistic parent.
What would your answer have been? Why do you think people are born with different levels of autism?

Anyway, Amanda bought a copy of Billy from me for her daughter, which I signed. They had to go after a while because of her daughter being autistic. Later on John walked round the library and found a couple of other parents to meet me so I could tell them what I am doing about raising awareness. They had heard of autism, but didn't know about it being Awareness Week. I gave them my handouts about ASD and what it involves for children then adults, and meltdowns and shutdowns. I also gave out cards promoting Billy.

At noon I packed up to go home. I gave the librarian copies of my cards and handouts, because she wanted them as she had told me that people do want to know about it. I might speak to her about this when I see her again in a couple of weeks time.

After this, I decided that my passion is to raise awareness of autism more not by giving talks but by writing guides on various topics to do with ASD such as anxiety and bullying, and maybe sell this together. Yesterday made me realise that people do know about autism but aren't aware of what it all involves, so I want to work on that in all ways I can with my writing.