Special Needs Adults Online

Something happened today that brought out how adults with special needs are treated online. First, no one is going to come right out on a forum and shout,”I AM A SPECIAL NEEDS ADULT! TREAT ME CAREFULLY! BE KIND!” Instead, they’re going to post in a thread and–oh boy– let the fun begin.

Today I read a woman’s post on a forum about a novel she’s in the middle of writing. She was from the USA, had so much enthusiasm, but her post read like a second grader. Many misspellings, poor grammar, rambling…. At first I was perplexed and passed over the post, not giving it much thought. Then one person responded asking if she was a child. I knew she wasn’t from the brief synopsis of the story. Cancer, sex, and rock ‘n roll aren’t a part of a seven-year-old’s interest. Maybe a teenager….

But I digress. I have two young adult sons who are special needs in very different ways. As a neurologist once said to me, “You don’t just have opposites, you have extreme opposites.” Thank you so much, doctor. Want to come to my house to help? Anyway, my older son has IMd and texted and emailed and posted on MySpace and Facebook. Many times–especially on MySpace and Facebook–his “friends” have misunderstood him. His thoughts might have come out garbled. Or when he meant to say “you” it became “me.” And then they drop him or unfriend him.

I guess what I’m rambling about now is that we, as in I and many others, compare those we meet online to the norm. If we don’t fit the norm, either we’re a child or someone no one wants to be bothered with. Pretty soon the special needs people leave the forums or the social networking site, wondering what the heck happened. And I’m to blame too, yet I should know better!

Is there an answer to all of this? A solution? Perhaps. Maybe if we take a step back in this New York Minute-type world and think before we respond to someone’s inept grammar or spelling or word usage, then maybe those with special needs will be more a part of the online community without fear of rejection or being humiliated.

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On Avoiding Book Publisher Scams

Years ago, as a still wet-behind-the-ears writer, I remember studying the Writer’s Market book like it was a bible. Maybe it is. The writer’s bible. I did online searches, making sure that when I submitted my short stories, my poems, my essays, and ultimately my first book-length manuscript, that I was submitting to legitimate publishers. Not once did PublishAmerica’s name come up in my search for reputable places for book publishers.

There are two things glaringly wrong with PA. First, the contract binds the writer’s book to a seven-year contract, which is unheard of in the publishing world. The second is that the author has to buy their own books to sell. Even if they have a book signing, the author has to order and buy their own books–at discount!–to sell. That isn’t the way traditional (commercial) publishers do business. PA might not charge up front, but they sure charge the writer afterward. This would all be okay if they were honest and told the author up-front, but they don’t.

PA says they’re selective. They’re not. They at first accepted Atlanta Nights by Travis Tea to give it “the chance it deserves” until they found out it was a hoax. It was the worst written manuscript ever. They also say the author doesn’t pay anything. They’re “traditional.” No, they are not.

I went the route of a small independent publisher. The book was well-edited, since the editor and I were in constant contact by email and phone throughout the editing process. I received a  boxfull of my books–free, to do with as I pleased. Whenever I had a booksigning, all I did was have my publisher send the books to the bookstore. No money out of my hands. And that’s the way reputable publishers work. I received my royalty checks on time and they were always accurate.

And when doing research on a publisher, type in their name “+scam” and see what comes up. You’ll be glad you did.

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