Feb 22

More Thoughts from FYE Conference

Posted: under the writing life.
Tags: ,  February 22nd, 2012

It was great to meet people who are now heading, or working in, college programs in support of students with autism spectrum conditions.   Also students now moving toward certification as speech & language pathologists, or who want to work with special-education departments.  And–always–those who have a family member or friend (or friend with a child) on the spectrum.

It’s also great that colleges are trying to engage students in discussions across the boundaries that quickly rise  between academic departments (especially, I think, between the liberal arts and the sciences) and between different social groupings of students.   The bull sessions in the dorms do give students a chance to discuss things with people they’ve known all of six weeks…but what they discuss may not be anything that can lead anywhere useful, especially with the diversity of backgrounds.   Having a common topic–a single book that they’ve all read–makes a reference point (other than the school athletic teams) for discussion.   I’ve noticed that at the colleges where I’ve spoken about The Speed of Dark, and I’m sure it’s true for other books selected.

And in general, it seems that colleges are choosing better books for freshman reading programs than they did when I was headed that way.  We were given a list of books to read the summer before we arrived, and most were intensely depressing.    (I also had four wisdom teeth removed that summer, and got sick, so that may have affected my reaction.  But none of the books offered much hope that problems could be coped with–whereas the books written by the other authors this past weekend all had that hopeful–but not shallowly hopeful–position. )

I’m grateful for the opportunity to attend this conference and meet the people who help choose the books…to learn more about their reasoning when they look for books, to get a feel for how my book fits or doesn’t fit their needs, and how an author’s campus visit “works” within the concept of a Freshman Year Experience.     (Because they aren’t all the same.   Every institution–and every incoming class in every institution–is unique.    And it’s clear that the faculty and staff I met were all very aware of their institution’s needs. )

It was a little startling to come home and find that I’d been Tweeted about, possibly even during the events.  (DUH.    Why surprising?  Probably because my netbook died shortly before the conference and I was flying along without my daily dose of internet navigation…no email, no Twitter, no blogging, no surfing.   No wonder the sock I was working on grew several inches!)

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Feb 21

FYE Conference in San Antonio

Posted: under the writing life.
Tags:  February 21st, 2012

I just got back from the First Year Experience conference in San Antonio, where I got to meet manymanymany  faculty and staff from universities around the country–what a great conference!    Random House brought five writers there to talk about the books we have that are suitable for an FYE or Common Reads program.   The Speed of Dark has already been used for such programs, stimulating discussions about not only autism, but issues of identity, autonomy, labeling, etc.

The other books being showcased were all nonfiction, and the other writers were all male.   It’s certainly not the first time I’ve been the only woman among the men, but usually we’re all writing in the same genre.  This felt very different–but still a lot of fun.    They videotaped our speeches at the Random House luncheon–I hadn’t anticipated that, but the years of speaking to groups of various sizes and in front of other cameras reduced the “Omigosh, what now?” factor.

And the Random House team is fantastic…such support!    If a pen clogged, another one appeared in front of me instantly.  Books flowed from boxes to the signing tables as if by magic.    And such individually pleasant people to work with, as well (some very efficient people can be stressful to laid-back country-gal writers, but not these–they were people I’d love to know better.

The day after a convention or conference is always super-busy, so I’ve got to rush off and keep after the chores, but…this was a new experience I really enjoyed.   (Fajitas at Casa Rio on the Riverwalk didn’t hurt either.  When we lived in San Antonio we couldn’t afford to eat on the Riverwalk often, but Casa Rio’s Tex-Mex was always good and reasonably priced.)

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Mar 18

Language Quirks

Posted: under communication, parenting.
Tags: , ,  March 18th, 2009

This was originally a post over at my LiveJournal, but generated so many comments that I thought it might be of even more interest here.  I copied & pasted, which seems to have preserved the LJ font size (and I haven’t a clue what to do about it…or why, when I posted this and then looked at it, only one paragraph is “that” size…)  Over there (for anyone who wants to go look and read the comments) the title is Language and Autism.   I have invited the people commenting there to consider coming here and continuing the discussion.

Our son did not learn to talk early, and for years after he said his first word (many years) his syntax was odd enough to make his speech barely intelligible to most people.   Though it has improved a lot, he still gets “tangled’ sometimes, and often “mazes” (repeating parts of a sentence several times.)   It’s clear to me that he’s constructing the sentences in chunks, and has to repeat every chunk to get the whole thing out at the end (like those songs where you have to repeat a key part of previous verses–Old MacDonald’s Farm, for instance.)

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mar 07

More good news for the book

Posted: under the book, the writing life.
Tags: ,  March 7th, 2009

Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas invited me to come speak to them in September.  No firm date yet.

Reminder that I’ll be doing a teleconference appearance at Howard Community College in Maryland because I couldn’t make that trip (and that turned out to be lucky, as the pneumonia I had upset everything and I’m even more in crunch mode now.)   That’s March 31.   I did the equipment compatibility test yesterday.  I don’t have the right stuff at home, so Central Texas College is handling things on this end.   They have a large telecommunications program and run the local PBS station from the campus.

There’s another probable appearance in August, but I have not heard back from the organizers that it’s “for sure” yet.

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Jan 14

Book Sales Happy Dance

Posted: under the writing life.
Tags:  January 14th, 2009

My agent has reported two “spikes” in sales of The Speed of Dark in the past month–so of course I’m happy about that.   The most recent was 92 copies in Portland, Maine.  WOW!

For anyone who’s contemplating using this book in a book club, class, or other reading group, please be aware that my publisher, Del Rey, may  have some special materials available, and I will be happy to do an email interview for your group.

Travel time is limited, but technology’s getting better every day–now that I have broadband, I might even be able to manage an online chat session.

(And now, back to the Happy Dance of  “People are reading my book, my book!  People are reading my book!!!”)

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Dec 08

Hello world!

Posted: under Uncategorized.
Tags: ,  December 8th, 2008

This blog begins a discussion of The Speed of Dark and other issues related to the social and political implications of the neuro-typical/neuro-non-typical interface.

In future, I expect to be writing another book–this one non-fiction–which may help families and friends of persons with autism-spectrum neurology find happier ways to relate to one another.

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