Category Archives: Reblogged

hawkgrrrl: My So-Called Post

March 31, 2015

I’m a word nerd, so I always find it interesting when a simple change to grammar alters the meaning of a word or sentence.  Time magazine recently pointed out one grammatical faux pas:  using “actually” can be a red flag. From this article (reprinted from Inc.):

Extra words used in a sales presentation or investor pitch are unnecessary. They subconsciously point listeners to question if there’s more unspoken information. The word “actually” serves as a spoken pause, giving the presenter’s brain time to catch up and decide how to resolve the conflict in their mind between the question asked and reality.

Actually can point to something in contrast to what is expected; for example, (per the article) if you ask someone “Did you get milk at the store?” and they respond, “Actually, I went to the gas station,” they are pointing out that you expected them to get milk at the store, but ha-ha, there is justification to get milk at the gas station, which is what they did, thwarting your heteronormative patriarchal expectations.  Or something like that.

If you ask your son, “Did you finish all your homework?” and he starts with “Actually . . . ” well, as parents, we are immediately suspicious. [1]  He may be deciding how to answer while he’s stringing out the “actually.” ….

The rest of the article can be found at Wheat and Tares

Pollard, Belinda: What is a beta reader and why do I need one?

You might have seen the term ‘beta reader’ as you’re browsing writing websites, or maybe this is the first time you’ve heard of it.

Basically, a beta reader gives you feedback on your finished manuscript, so you can adjust it before you set it loose on the world. I consider them the superheroes of self-publishing (and great for traditional publishing, too).

What a weird term!

“Beta reader” has apparently been adapted from the software industry, where programmers release a ‘beta’ version of a new program to people who will test it. The beta version comes after the alpha version (which to a writer might be the first draft). I would have thought the alpha version was the one that goes on sale, but apparently not. Confusing, huh?

Don’t worry, just remember: Beta Reader means someone who evaluates a manuscript.

Beta testers find the bugs and improve the software’s usability before the final “release” version goes on sale. A beta reader tests your manuscript (by reading it), and tells you about the ‘bugs’ so you can improve its readability, its usefulness and even its saleability.

It’s an especially valuable step if you are planning to self-publish, but can also help you in the quest to get an agent or publisher if you are planning on going the traditional route with your book.

How to say it

Unfortunately, it’s one of those tomayto-tomahto kinda words. I say it “beeta”, like most Australians and quite a few Brits. In the US, it often seems to be “bayta”. And apparently in some parts of the world, it’s more like “betta”!

I think the take-home message is: Say “beta readers” however you like, just get some! :-)

Why do I need a beta reader?

The fact is, we spend so much time on our own manuscripts that we can’t see them objectively — no matter how diligently we self-edit. These can be some of the outcomes (there are plenty more):

  • We create anticipation or an expectation early in the book, but forget to deliver on it.
  • We describe events in a way that is clear to us but not clear to a reader who can’t see the pictures in our head. (At least, we hope they can’t see them. Are you looking inside my head??? Eek!)
  • We leave out vital steps in an explanation and don’t realise it, because we know what we mean.
  • The characters in our books (whether fictional, or real as in a memoir or non-fiction anecdote) are not convincing, because we know them so well we don’t realise we haven’t developed them thoroughly on paper………………………….

You can read the rest of this article and other articles regarding Beta-readers on Small Blue Dog Publishing

The Gas-lighting of Women and Girls on the Autism Spectrum

Seventh Voice

Artwork by Mirella Santana

Of all the traits attributed to Women on the Autism Spectrum, there remains one that not only continues to go unrecognized as a valid trait but has also suffered the fate of being reconstructed by professionals as a rationale for denying Women a diagnosis.

The trait I’m referring to is that of developing a strong sense of self-awareness.

In almost every description pertaining to the experiences of Women with Asperger’s Syndrome there is evidence of the development of an early, inexplicable sense of ‘otherness,’ to be found.

This sense of ‘otherness’ expands exponentially as girls grow older and develops into a keen sense of self-awareness.

Their strong sense of self-awareness in turn, increases their sensitivity toward any and all experiences that suggest or confirm their perceptions of themselves as different.

Undoubtedly, whilst at school, undiagnosed spectrum girls will find themselves showered, almost daily, with an endless array of situations that…

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At the Intersection of Gender and Autism – Part 3

“Yea I was always baffled at how the women who had post partum like me or raising kids or depression always seemed to do a little better. It was confusing because it always seemed a little harder for me and I felt so alone when they’d say, “Ive been there too” but I saw that really- they hadn’t in the way I had and I could not figure it out. It hurt and felt like a failing tender point. Now that I know I am Autistic, I expect that result and it makes the world of difference to just know that fact. Now I know it will always be a little different, perhaps harder, than my non autistic peers…but at least I have words for it and reasons now. It’s still a baffling struggle at times but most of the confusion has cleared.:) (Kmarle)”

Musings of an Aspie

The final post of a three part series (read Part 2)

While many of the intersections of autistic and female in my life have been social, there are undeniable physical intersections too.

The arrival of adolescence brought with it hints of what it would mean to be an autistic adult. My first real meltdowns. My first experience with depression. My first confusing encounters with physical intimacy.

With nothing to compare those experiences to, I assumed they were a normal part of being a teenager. Everyone said that being a teenager was hard. I couldn’t dispute that. It didn’t seem necessary to look beyond the explanation of “this is hard for everyone.”

That would become a theme. Pregnancy. Breastfeeding. Postpartum depression. My body’s reaction to birth control pills. Countless books and magazine articles assured me that these things were no walk in the park. Not knowing that I was autistic…

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A WRITER’S CHRISTMAS CAROL

Wonderful description of the addiction of writing.

Gifford MacShane

Please Say Goodnight by Gifford MacShane
Sung to the tune of “All Through the Night”

Midnight now, my head is hanging,
Time to say goodnight.
Voices in my head, stop clanging,
It’s time to say goodnight.
I know there are chapters waiting,
Characters anticipating.
I don’t need your conversating,
Please say goodnight.

Heroes have good deeds to do,
But please say goodnight.
Villains will do evil, too,
But please say goodnight.
Demoiselle is left in peril,
Terrified of all things feral,
I don’t really mean to querul,
But please say goodnight.

Night is gone, the dawn is breaking,
PLEASE say goodnight.
My eyes are fried, my hands are shaking,
PLEASE say goodnight.
If I don’t sleep I will perish,
And your story none will cherish.
Voices, please, it may sound churlish
But PLEASE SAY GOODNIGHT!!!

Not familiar with this Welsh carol? Here’s the Kingston Trio’s version of the original. Obviously…

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The problem with the Mask Analogy for Women with Autism

“Given all of this, one could ask; just whose perception of ‘normal’ are we applying here and whose definition of ‘pretending’ or ‘masking’ are we using?”

Seventh Voice

Digital art by Rik Oostenbroek

A mask is a false external covering.

It can be worn to conceal a person’s true identity for better or for worse.

The idea that Women with High Functioning Autism are not being adequately diagnosed, simply because they wear masks, also carries within it the ideation that all women with Autism intentionally try to conceal their true selves in order to ‘pass as normal’.

This in turn implies that all women with Autism willingly engage in the act of perpetrating some form of female deception which, in turn, somehow creates the inability of professionals to recognize them for who they are.

The idea that women are fiendish creatures, capable of deceiving men, is not a new one.

In fact, that particular idea is as old as humanity and has been used successfully over the course of history to deny women the same basic human rights and considerations as men.

Which…

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an Gorta Mor (or The Great Irish Famine, 1845-1852)

“Hundreds of thousands throughout the Isle were dispossessed, and they trudged in weary lines to the port cities, hoping to find passage to America. With no food and little to no money, inestimable thousands died along the way and were buried in mass graves.”

Gifford MacShane

Most of the time I find history boring. But every once in awhile, I stumble over something fascinating. And usually, that something makes me cry.

I’d heard quite a bit about the Irish Famine at different places along the way, like in English class in high school when we read Jonathan Swift’s essay A Modest Proposal (if you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend it. It gives an incredible satiric look at the British government’s feelings on “the Irish problem.” The problem, in short, was that there was such a thing as “the Irish”.)

At any rate, the subject cropped up now and again. But it wasn’t until I started writing my Donovan series that I realized how closely related I was to it. My father’s family emigrated from Ireland in the early 20th century, chased out by the British Army (or so the story goes). As I started…

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