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Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Expand Your Writing Horizons

Attention all Writers

This entry is an unabashed BSP post.

What is BSP?

It stands for Blatant Self Promotion.

What is being blatantly self promoted?

I’m promoting myself. As an author. As a teacher. I’m flexing my wings and extending my reach. I’ll be teaching a writing class on the Savvy Authors site starting on March 14, 2016. It’s about using disabled characters in your stories.

What’s the name of the class?

It’s titled, Pardon, is my Disability Showing? Writing Believable Disabled Characters — an Interactive Approach.

Quite a mouthful of a title, right? And although there are only 8 lessons including an introduction, the lessons contain a massive amount of information about three disabilities. the disabilities covered are: Vision, auditory, and mobility challenges. (Or if you’re not politically correct — Blindness, deafness, and paralysis entailing the use of a wheelchair.)

What makes you the person to teach this class?

For the first twenty-seven years of my life, I was one of the non-disabled. Then a head injury rendered me completely blind. I’m now one of the physically challenged. I’ve had to change the way I do certain activities, learned to use adaptive equipment, and focus more on what I’m doing. And occasionally, I have to ask others to help. (But, there’ll be compensation.)

This gives me the opportunity to look at disabilities from both perspectives. The non-disabled view where those with disabilities interact with the non-disabled on a limited basis. And the disabled viewpoint, where performing even simple tasks can sometimes take a Herculean effort.

Why teach a class like this?

In many of the books I’ve read, the disabled have, for the most part, been well and effectively portrayed. But, it takes a lot of research to make them and the tasks they do flow so seamlessly. So, this is my attempt to gather the majority of the information together and present it to interested writers.

Why use a disabled character for a story?

Using a character with a disability in your story can add more excitement, intrigue, and emotional wallop. It can supercharge the visceral content, enhance your character’s inner strength, and provide a person to cheer for. Or a villain you can really hate. Not all the disabled are true-blue and saintly. The disabled can also be vindictive, greedy, and out for revenge. You know, just like you non-disabled.

But, what if you don’t know anyone disabled, and have no idea of where to look for information?

Relax, Just take my class. Starting March 14, you can register on the Savvy Authors site at:

a course taught by Barbara Bates: Pardon, is my Disability showing? Writing Believable Disabled Characters — an Interactive Approach.

Who should take this class?

It’s suggested to get the most benefit from this course; you have a strong grasp of the basics: POV, showing versus telling, using characterization and setting techniques, and being able to layer your story.

For, this is not an introductory course, the lessons are long and the information detailed. Not only will you learn the ins and outs of how to write a disabled character, but you can pretend to be one (within limits, of course).

The course includes two lessons for each disability. the first lesson is chock full of information about the disability. The second lesson is the interactive one. In the second lesson a series of tasks are provided for you to take part in. These tasks will allow you, for a limited time, to perform tasks as the disabled do. Boundaries will be set up so you face the same limitations as the disabled do when doing simple tasks.

And if your caught doing these tasks, then you’ll have to explain to your significant other, or child, or good friend – why you’re walking around the house blindfolded, or banging pot lids together in the kitchen, or rolling around the house belted into the desk chair. What could be better than that? Come join us at:


New Year, New You

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

New Year, New You

The Procedure

While you don’t need to start new habits, or a change of lifestyle at the beginning of the year, it is a convenient time to do so. But it takes planning, determination, and the urge to make positive changes in order to succeed.


Do you want to start a new habit? Stop an old one? Adjust your lifestyle? The first thing you must do is plan.

First decide:

- What do you want to accomplish?


Make it specific, attainable, and determine how long it should take to get there.

- Why do you want to do this?

Figure out if you want to attain this goal to better yourself, improve your lifestyle, or just feel good.

- Set a starting date. And if applicable, an ending date.

Pick a starting date it’s easy to monitor. The beginning of the week or month may work best for you.

Is there a definitive ending point? Or will this be an ongoing change? Is this the beginning of a new habit you want to continue? Or is it something you want to stop doing?

- How often and by what means will you measure progress? Set up charts, journals, or whatever you need.

If you’re starting an exercise routine or beginning to eat better, decide how often you want to document your progress.

Choose a way to determine if you’re still on the right track. If you gave up certain foods, did you stay away from them all week? If you lapsed, how many times? If you want to exercise so many days per week, did you make your sub-goal?


1. Write out your plan.

2. Divide the main task up into do-able steps. The smaller and easier the steps are the better.

3. Set up sub-goals and associated rewards.

- How long will it take to get to each sub-goal?

Estimate how long you think it will take to reach each sub-goal. Don’t worry, if you don’t make it, you can reschedule and try again.

- Give yourself a reward for reaching each sub-goal.

When you reach and conquer each sub-goal reward yourself. Make the reward positive, in line with your goal. If your goal is to lose weight, a proper reward is NOT a hot fudge sundae. It can be buying that new blouse you’ve been eyeing, though.


1. Document your starting point.

If you want to lose weight, write down your starting weight and take measurements of those areas you want to decrease.

If you want to stop smoking, write down the number of cigarettes you smoke each day.

2. Determine how often to chart your progress and mark it down.

You don’t need to chart your progress every day. You can if you want. But you may want to do it once or twice a week. You decide.

3. Determine evaluation points and alter the steps or order of sub-goals as needed.

If the amount of time goes by for yo7u to attain a sub-goal and you don’t make it, decide why.

Reschedule the time to attain the sub-goal and try again.

4. After a set amount of time evaluate your status.

- Have you gotten into the groove of a new habit?

- Have your cravings disappeared for performing an old habit?

- Do you feel comfortable with the lifestyle change you made?

Let the world know.

At some point in your development you may want to let others know of your journey. You can:

- Show friends your starting point and how far you’ve come.

- Tell others of your journey and how far you’ve traveled from your starting point.

- Or, just bask in their praise of the changes you’ve made.



Coming Soon! Coming Soon!

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

I’m soon to be a published author. Coming out in February, from Damnation Books, will be my first novel, “AsterIce”. Listed as a science-fiction thriller, it’s the story of what happens when an alien virus is set free in Earth’s environment and how it changes humanity. There are four POV (that’s point of view) characters telling the story of mankind’s attempts to remain “human”.

The characters telling the story are: Bernard DuBonne, a computer programmer with a military background, the idea man behind DuBonne Enterprises; Tanya DuBonne, his wife, and a prominent genetic biologist; Richard DuBonne, Bernard’s younger brother and the financial mastermind behind the DuBonne dynasty, and Elaine DuBonne, Richard’s wife and a police detective in the city of SouthSide.

February 1 is the release date. Damnation Books, part of Eternal Press, will have the books available on the site Feb 1. I’m not sure where else or exactly when other places will have the book available, so stay tuned.

The Toe Bone’s Connected to the Neck Bone

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Happy New Year!

Let’s try to make 2013 the year of Connectivity. Why Connectivity you may ask.

Remember the children’s song that went something like:

The toe bone’s connected to the foot bone. The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone…

All the way up to the head bone (skull).

It’s turned out this is more true than anyone suspected. News articles have declared:

“Germs in Your Mouth can Affect Your Heart”, “Stress can Pack on the Pounds”, and “Lack of Sleep Leads to Lack of Energy”.

If you view the human body as a closed system, then every sub-system can affect the others. Let’s take this idea one step farther.

Consider the earth as a closed system. If we destroy our environment, or one facet of it, all the others will be affected. Continued pollution of any kind, will over time, affect the human population negatively.

Now, take a side-step. We are all human. Rich. Poor. Diverse colors, religions, ethnicities and nationalities. But human, all of us. We have one planet. Count it, one. We have to learn to give and take, to share and compromise, to keep our home viable and able to support us. Or we’ll go the same way as the dinosaurs. What’s that you say — a meteor hit the earth that destroyed the dinosaurs. Really, were you there? And destruction is destruction, whether it comes from an asteroid, or from us poisoning ourselves. Extinct is still extinct.

So, what I hope to do this year on this part of the blog is show how we’re all connected and what we can do to benefit each other.

But there will be a subtheme concerning disability. Being one of the physically challenged, (read as totally blind), disability concerns are always close to my heart.

On the part of the blog, I’ll keep you apprised of how the publication of my first book, “AsterIce” is progressing at Damnation Books (a small press in California). And on the health and nutrition part of the blog,, I’ll put up articles giving ways to make your life healthier.

I’m planning on blogging at least twice a week, not sure of the days or which blog I’ll post on yet.

Developing Characters

Saturday, January 14th, 2012


When developing characters for your stories, you need not only a physical description, and general background, but also habits, wants, memories, favorites and fears, Hopes and hatreds. There should be a reason for everything your character does in the story. The grown man who gulps down his food because he grew up the youngest in a family of nine children. The female engineer who’s afraid to voice her opinion, imagining her father telling her “nice girls don’t do that”.


Sometimes actual people can be used as a framework for your characters.   The operative word here is “framework”.


1. Take one or two characteristics from a real person. The way she snaps her fingers as she thinks. Or the way his smile lights up his face making him look boyish. Or maybe take her curly blond hair, or his smoky gray eyes. But don’t develop an entire character around a real person.


But you may argue, “My uncle is such a card; no one will believe he’s real.” Until, other members of your family start pointing out how much your such-and-such character reminds them of Uncle Joe. So, if you must have your character bray a laugh like Uncle Joe’s, make sure he looks nothing like him, or has enough other interesting habits to minimize the comparison.


2. Create combination characters. If you chose characteristics from people you know, create combination characters. How about combining your mother’s love of cooking, Cousin Thelma’s red curls, and Aunt Flora’s ability for snappy comments into one character.


This is also useful for the antagonists in your story. If you have the “bad guy” resemble a friend or family member, friction could develop between you and the real person. But if the evil-doer has your brother’s limp, a friend’s large hands, and cousin Adam’s constant sniffles, then they’re just characteristics, and can come from anywhere.


3. The good, the bad, and the humorous. Everyone has bad habits, even the hero and heroine. The antagonist should have some good habits or characteristics, too. A fully fleshed-out character has a good side, a bad side; a public persona and a private one. Miss “Goody-Two-Shoes” may turn into a witch and cast an evil spell or two in the privacy of her own dark cave. Mr. “Stay-Away-If-You-Value0-Your-Sanity” may be the best dad in the world to his motherless children.


And a bit of humor never hurt. The female student who swipes her favorite male teacher’s favorite pen, then finds a spreading spot of ink on her sweater when she meets him in the hall. (No one told her he used a real ink pen.) The young boy who hides a puppy in his room and it gets out and eats his father’s socks.


4. Individual history. If your character does something “out of character”, make sure there’s a reason in his background to explain it. The prominent businessman who steals candy because he never had enough money when he was young. The attractive female executive who doesn’t know how to talk to men because she was teased for being shy and clumsy all through school.     


You don’t need to put the reason right before the unusual action. It can be mentioned briefly at the beginning, or referred to during conversation. But, like a well-woven tapestry, that shows new details at every inspection, it should be there.


5. Forms and Profiles. There are many character profile forms out there. They should include: physical description, education, family history, former employment, travel experience, outlook on life, innermost hopes, favorite things, secret fears, habits, ambitions, and friends and family members. It can include important past incidents and secrets.        


How do you develop your characters? Do you use profile forms or simply write a brief “history” for each? Do you take characteristics from actual people or do you create them completely from fiction?  


Other articles of interest:

1. Janis Hubschman’s: Creating Characters at




Squeaky Wheel Syndrome

Sunday, December 26th, 2010



Should the squeaky wheel get the grease? Should it be allowed to continue on the same path? Or should other alternatives be considered?  



Let’s take two examples – extremists and fanatics. These types can be considered to be squeaky wheels, as they draw attention – mostly of the negative variety — to themselves and their cause. They refuse to consider the opinions of others, and continue on their chosen path, no matter the fate of individual members.  


-An extremist is defined as:    a person who indulges in immoderate or excessive actions, opinions, etc. 

- A fanatic is:    a person whose enthusiasm or zeal for something is extreme or beyond normal limits.  



So, both of these groups operate outside the norm, on the ends of normal limits. Why then, do they garner so much attention? Is it their ability to step outside the norm by causing destruction, mayhem, and harm to others that draws our interest? Is it because we can sit home, safe and secure, while watching someone else’s misfortune?   


Individuals involved in groups meeting the definitions of fanatic or extremist, make up less than 5 % of the population. Yet they appear in the local, national, and world news on an almost daily basis. Why do we allow this, and what can we do about it?



First, we must disassociate ourselves from these fanatics and extremists. We must let them know we, the majority, don’t feel, think, or want to act like they do. That, their actions are not within the norm and should be not allowed to continue. They should be condemned for the travesties they are.


To a certain extent, this has already started. Several attempts to either set off explosives or otherwise damage airplanes in flight have been thwarted by passengers.


But this brings up another question. What about explosions in public places? Should individuals acting strange in public be stopped and apprehended? Where should the line be drawn to keep the majority of the public safe? What conditions constitute a situation giving the authorities the right to deny certain individuals their rights? Are there such situations in America? Should there be?   


What can the general public do?



First we should close ranks. Form ourselves into community groups with a clear purpose, a clear set of ideals and goals, and a clear vision of our future.  Inherent in these statements should be the fact that people have the ability to travel without being harmed by others.


When described in any type of news media these groups should not be glorified; they should be frowned upon, ignored, and forgotten.   


Second, we must stick by our convictions. Don’t give these people any publicity, confirmation, or donations. Let them know they, as extremists, acting outside our realm of proper behavior, are beneath our notice. Report the facts, denounce those in charge, and move on. Avoid sensationalism at all costs, they thrive on it.   


Third, we should not allow these people back into the “fold” or whatever community they used to be in unless they recant their former ideals and lifestyles publicly. Yet, they should not be excluded for exclusion’s sake. And while some may revel in being shunned, many won’t, and may return to a position of normalcy.  


One of the reasons extremists tactics work is they get a lot of publicity. This publicity draws other like-minded extremists to them and increases their numbers. And when they find strength in numbers, they can perform actions one or a few would not be able to accomplish.


So, we should form and strengthen our communities, and announce to the world, we don’t support these extreme groups, agree with them, or approve of their actions.



Don’t condemn them, ignore them. Don’t bring more attention to their cause, expound your own. Don’t be fooled into thinking their message holds anything relevant or significant, it doesn’t. Strengthen your own communities, bring more like-minded individuals into your sphere of influence, and snub those who advocate: violence, hate, and narrow-minded actions. Diversity is part of the charm of the human race, it should be encouraged, but it should not be allowed to denigrate or degrade any other group — no matter how different their ideas. Diversity is one of the human races’ strengths. It should be encouraged, not put down. You have the right to your opinion, as I have the right to mine. When we interact, we should have respect for each other’s opinions. That doesn’t mean we have to follow another’s opinion, or live by it; but we should acknowledge they exist and leave them like that. Having an opinion and forcing it upon someone else are two different matters.  


When, not if, these splinter groups are regulated to the fringes where they belong and their message ceases to hold the fascination of the population, it will lose its grip on the majority and their popularity will drop by the wayside. So, when that darned wheel starts squeaking, don’t oil it and keep using it; change it, and dose it with the oil, then throw the darned thing into the fire. It’s the only thing it’s good for – providing warmth for others by its own destruction.


The Day of the Night Before Christmas

Friday, December 24th, 2010


It’s the day of Christmas Eve


It’s the day of Christmas Eve. I wanted to wish everyone out there happy holidays, whichever one, or none if you’re so inclined, you celebrate.


I think part of what should be said comes from some song lyrics:


“May God bless and keep you always,

      May your wishes all come true.

May you always do for others,

      And let others do for you.” *


Being brought up Christian, I celebrate Christmas. But Christmas has changed since I was small. We now have overt commercialism, unbridled materialism, sagging morals and ethics, as well as political and economic corruption, to deal with.  It’s hard to see any light at the end of that long tunnel.


But no matter if you see Jesus Christ as: the son of God, an important prophet, or a wise teacher and good human being, remember he changed the world, history, and our fates – through peaceful means, not war. Whether or not you agree with his teachings, many have lasted to this day.  And, he was a radical in his time. He stood for peace in a time when armed Romans walked the streets. He taught acceptance when the ruling class wanted to keep the classes segregated. He preached material wealth wasn’t the be-all, end-all; we have a spirit too.


Try to take some time this season and figure out what you want in your life. Where you want: to go, to be (when you grow up), to have. Materialism isn’t everything; health, family, community exist without excess wealth. Happiness can come from the “little” things in your life. A child’s smile. A helping hand. A letter from a loved one. A look through a photo album.  


Celebrate the 3F’s this holiday season. Feasting, family and fun. (Those were the 3 F’s you thought of, right?) Savor and be grateful for what you have. Take steps to get those things you need or want. And stop once in a while and take in the grandeur around you. Happy holidays. Barbara


*from “Forever Young” song by Bob Dylan, sung by Joan Baez.


New Blog on the Block

Monday, December 20th, 2010


Hey, thanks for stopping by. This is to let you know there’s a new blog associated with the two already here ( and It’s called Living for Life, and can be found at


Though it’s slanted to those of us over fifty, it’ll contain advice, exercises, recipes, and other good stuff of interest to many. Give it a look and see. This newest addition is willing and able to take your suggestions about articles you’d like to see about 

 - Simplifying your life

 - Exercise

 - Diet and nutrition

 - Amounts of Sleep and rest you need.  


So, stop on by and say hello.


Positive Argumentation

Sunday, December 19th, 2010


Remember when you were young and you wanted to do something, so you asked your mom. And she said, “No.” 


So you asked, “Why?” And she said something like, “Because I said so, that’s why.” And the discussion was closed. Then, you had to either be good and do something else, or sneak around and do it anyway.


But the above isn’t even really an argument, for there’s no back and forth, just an inquiry and a response. An argument should be more like a debate. Not the type you often see on television, where the debaters just try to make their own point, not rebut the opponent’s views or present new information.


I’m going to attempt to start a series called “The Bottom Line”. I will present my opinions and would like you to either agree or not.


If you agree, I’d be glad to hear how and/or what  you think about it. Try to be specific and give reasons if you can.


If you don’t agree, you can simply say, “I don’t agree.” In which case, the chances of staying posted are okay. If you say, “I don’t agree, because…” you have a better chance of staying posted. But, if you say, “I don’t agree, because… And I’d like to present this as a solution instead…” You will definitely stay.


And if you post off topic, you’ll probably be deleted. (Sorry folks, but I started this blog for a reason and it isn’t to let you rant about anything you want. You start your own blog for that.)


What I’m saying is I don’t care if you agree or not, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But if all you’re going to do is rant and rave, then don’t bother commenting. If you want to tell me (and the rest of you) why you disagree, and offer another point of view, then welcome aboard.


Please keep your comments civil, and without links. I intend to learn how to edit your comments, and so, many of the links may disappear soon. (I don’t mind an occasional link to your site, but if you’re going to respond to every posting in one day, with a link, some of them may vanish. Fair warning.)


What exactly do I mean? Let’s take an example.


Suppose the premise is: “Lollipops are the best, safest candy for young children. The stick protects them from getting small pieces lodged in their throats.”


If you respond with “I don’t think so.” You may not stay posted. (Unless you’re one of the few comments like this.) 


If you comment with, “Lollipops are okay, but children can still bite off pieces and they can lodge in their throats.” There’s a much better chance your comment will survive.


But, if your response is,”I don’t think lollipops are the greatest, hard candy itself is pure sugar and isn’t good for you. Crunching a lollipop can lead to pieces becoming lodged in their throats. And besides, candy made from real fruit has been found to be better and not cause as much tooth decay.” This will definitely stay.


It’s okay to have an opinion, but I want you to share why you have that opinion and if you don’t agree, then what can you suggest as an alternative? It’s fine to say “No”, but suggesting what can be done (or used, or considered) instead is better. If everyone offered an alternative instead of just digging in and not seeing another’s viewpoint, the world would be a better place.  


The litmus test “The Bottom Line” articles will use is:


Can people exist without XXX? And conversely, can XXX exist without people?

Where XXX is the subject for the article.

Not — Will things remain the same? Not –

Will it affect our present way of life? And not — Will life be better or worse. All those things are subjective – existence is a fact.


If you don’t understand it now, don’t worry, it’ll be much clearer when the articles come out.


What type of things will be considered for “The Bottom Line”? Well, part of that is up to you. Suggest things for me to consider. What’s your bottom line? On life? On your job? On the condition of society today?  And if my opinion differs from yours, let everyone know. As long as you keep it clean (rated PG or below), civil (no cuss words or name calling), intelligent (no rants allowed, that’s my job), and stick to the rules above.


Everyone game?  




Is Common Sense Uncommon?

Thursday, December 9th, 2010


I filled out a form to receive a download the other day. It’s a good thing I read all the way through.


This is not as easy for me as it is for you. I use a screen reader to read the screen – it reads one line at a time. You can’t scan, can’t look ahead, can’t see what’s coming up next.


So, I filled out the form but before I clicked the submit link, I went down and read further.


Below the submit link it stated a code you needed to receive the download. 


Now, think about it. This is silly (I could have called it something else, but silly will do for now.) It’s like putting up a form, having the person fill it out, then saying something like, “USE ONLY CAPITAL LETTERS at the bottom after the form has been filled out. Now you have to go back and refill out the form.


True, it’s not an exact imitation of what happened, but you get the idea.


You should put all the information the person needs to fill out the form – above the form. Directions on filling out the form or what to do after the form is submitted do not belong below the form.


Doesn’t this make sense? To me, who can’t read below the submit line before submitting, it makes perfect sense. How do you feel about this? Am I being picky about this?


I’ve been receiving quite a few emails about putting either video or audio pieces on blogs or websites. The problem with this is a good number of those doing this have no idea how to make them accessible to those of us using adaptive equipment. And there are over 30 million Americans alone who access their computers using adaptive equipment.


If you’re trying to sell something shouldn’t you not tick off potential customers? One would think so. Shouldn’t you make it as easy as possible for people to order from you?


Some people don’t like audio, some don’t like video, some don’t like to read. The solution? Give potential customers options. Create an option box at the beginning of the page.


Would you like to:

(link) Read this offer?

(link) Listen to this offer?

(link) See a video of this offer?


Is it really that hard? If you’ve taken the time to produce a wonderful product, shouldn’t you make it available to as many people in as many forms as possible? It makes sense to me.  


Think about your presentation as you lay it out, as you record it, as you video tape it. A little common sense can go a long way.