The Crossing – Raising a Child With Autism

Raising Benjamin Frog – A Mother’s Journey with her Autistic SonAn autistic child’s non-neurotypical perspective on a daily walk to school with his mother. First published as a short story by the child’s counselling centre. The mother’s neurotypical perspective of the same event follows. We hope we’ve given you a glance into the way an autistic mind differs from a neurotypical mind. Written by myself and my son, Benjamin Collier.

Stop Sign

THE CROSSING-Part 1

The Child’s Perspective

Along they walked, side by side. He’d been told enough times now to remember the rule. They always walked side by side when they walked to school. He didn’t have to hold her hand; she said that was ok as long as they stayed together. So he walked by her side and talked in his head to his imaginary friends. He was oblivious to his surroundings most of the way and the other mothers and children who walked the same path. But he noticed that some of the other children held hands with their mothers, swinging their arms back and forth. Their mothers had obviously told them that they had to hold hands.  He wondered why they had different rules from his mother. He’d come to accept, but still constantly question, why rules applied to some people and not to others. The rules were different for the bigger people, the parents and other adults, and sometimes his big sisters too.

His mother greeted the crossing guard and the other mothers as they came to the crosswalk. Then suddenly, her young son darted from beside her and started off across the road. Approaching cars skidded  to a screeching halt. Faces were red with panic and anger. The drivers scowled and the crossing guard blew her whistle with ferocity. The boy’s mother lunged forward and ran to grab her son from in front of the cars. As she did she could hear the other mothers shouting heatedly at her son. “Unruly child!” “That was a stupid thing to do!” “You know you never cross without the crossing guard!” And she heard some mutter under their breath, “Terrible mother”  and “Ashamed of herself.” She carried on across the road, holding tightly to his hand now, trying to ignore the comments and keep calm. After all, they didn’t understand. Her son looked like any other child. Why wouldn’t they expect him to follow all the rules?

The boy heard the words they shouted at him, but he took none of it to heart. They were just repeating the rules, feeding him the information he already had. The rules were just stupid. That’s all there was to it. And there were too many of them. He preferred his world. There he could do whatever he wanted without rules and he could play all day and no one got annoyed with him. His world was safer and happier. He wondered why other people didn’t live in their own worlds too. Why did they insist on living in a world that didn’t make any sense? Why did he have to live there?

When they reached the other side of the road his mother kept a tight hold of his hand and told him to look at her eyes. He knew that was the signal she wanted to talk to him. He knew he had done something wrong again. His puzzled little face lifted and he gazed into her eyes, trying his best to concentrate on her words.

“Why did you try crossing the road without the crossing guard?” she asked in a soft voice.

A question? He wasn’t expecting that. Didn’t she already know?

“It was safe to cross,” he answered, “The cars were all far away. I knew they would stop in time and they did. I was right. Why am I not allowed to make the cars stop instead of the crossing guard? Why do I have to wait for her to say it’s safe? Why do the cars listen to her and not me?”

His mother frowned a little, at first, then something lit up in her eye and her lips curled. He believed that was what people called a smile. “Because she has the STOP sign”, his mother said, “And you don’t.”

He thought for a moment, a frown on his tiny forehead. Then he looked up at her and gave her his own smile; he knew she liked that and it’d make her happy. “Okay”, he said in his matter-of-fact voice. Maybe some day when he was old enough he could buy his own STOP sign. Satisfied with that dream of the future, he ran to the playing field. Free for a little while till the bell rang and the confusing rules would start again.

by Benjamin T. Collier

Benjamin’s Blog

Benjamin T. Collier Author and Public Speaker on Autism
Benjamin T. Collier
Author and Public Speaker on Autism

 

An inside look at Autism and Asperger's Syndrome
An inside look at Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

 

Purchase a copy of ‘My Life A.S. Is’

 

THE CROSSING-Part 2

The Mother’s Perspective

She knew their walk to school was always an adventure to him. They would set off from home and stroll along the sidewalk to the road. It was just the two of them and his four friends; Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello. He never went anywhere without them. They kept him company in a world where she couldn’t go; not yet anyway. They were his companions when no one else wanted to play with him.

At first, he would take them in to Kindergarten with him, but his teacher had become annoyed on several occasions at his lack of attention in class. So now they stopped at the playground on the way to school where he had to say “Goodbye” to his imaginary friends. Sometimes he would look so sad. He asked his mother if they would be alright until he got them after school. They were as real to him as if they were his classmates; maybe more so. They didn’t call him names.

He ran free for a while. She had come to realize that he needed a lot of freedom from the world he didn’t understand. He needed extra time to just ‘be’. She watched him as he mumbled words she couldn’t comprehend; his arms flailing and his voice getting louder with shouts and screams for no apparent reason. He was so happy, just to run and not be confined to rooms and paths and the never-ending rules she had to constantly teach him. Her baby was happy. She loved to watch him play in his world.

He had learned, finally, to stop at the end of the path and wait for her. They had made an agreement that if he stopped all by himself he wouldn’t have to hold her hand anymore. He rarely wanted any physical contact. She missed the sweet baby boy she could hold tight and hug all day. He didn’t seem to want hugs at all, but he would let her kiss him goodnight, and he held her hand if there were cars close by; only if there were cars.

They were nearing the crossing guard when he suddenly darted across the road! She screamed his name as approaching cars barely managed to stop in time. One car came to a screeching halt and she saw the look of horror on the driver’s face. Everyone, the drivers, the crossing guard, the other parents, even the other children, all scowled and shouted at her son. They told him he was a bad boy and he needed to behave better. She ran to the middle of the road and grabbed his hand.

As they finished walking across the road, the crossing guard blew her whistle and held up her sign. The other parents started to cross too. Their whispers were intentionally loud enough for her to hear. “Terrible mother!”, “Should be ashamed of herself!”, “Not enough discipline obviously!” were all ringing in her ears as she held tight to his tiny hand and got him safely across the road and away from the other parents and children.

She felt like shouting at them all, “He has autism! That’s why he sometimes behaves like he does! What’s your excuse?!” But she had tried her best not to let her son see her get angry with other people. She didn’t want him to think that’s the way people should deal with disagreements. So she asked him quietly why he had run across the road instead of waiting for the crossing guard to tell them it was safe.

He explained, in his simple, broken words, that he had looked to make sure the cars were far away and he knew they could stop before they got to the crossing. He asked her why the cars wouldn’t stop for him if he wanted to cross the road. Why couldn’t he make the cars stop if he was right? Why did they only stop for the crossing guard?

His mother frowned a little at first, then her eyes lit up and she smiled at him.

“Because she has the STOP sign”, she said, “and you don’t”.

He looked at her, puzzled. She was used to that look all too well. Then a feint grin came across his little face; a rarity for him. She loved to see him smile. Off he ran into the playing field, alone, or maybe not. Maybe he had some other imaginary friends who he left at school until the next day. Either way, he was free again, happy in his own world for a few minutes, until he had to join the other children in this world again and deal with another rule that made no sense to him at all.

by Lynne Collier

Raising Benjamin Frog - A Mother's Journey with her Autistic Son
Raising Benjamin Frog – A Mother’s Journey with her Autistic Son

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purchase a copy of

‘Raising Benjamin Frog – A Mother’s Journey with her Autistic Son’

Both books are about the same journey but from totally different perspectives.

Our thanks to Dr. Merry Lin for inviting us to write our story. If you would like to contact Dr. Lin and her associates about Autism, go to LifeCare Centres.

 

Your Writer’s Voice for God

Is God calling you to write for Him?

  • Do you feel compelled by God to write?
  • Does anyone say your words have impacted or inspired them?
  • Has anyone in professional writing circles said your work is good?
  • Have you ever dreamed of writing devotionals or Christian Romance novels?
  • If your answer to any of those questions is “yes” —

Congratulations – You just might be a writer!

As an author and Christian Life Coach, I’m often asked about how to get started with a writing career. Here’s a mini-course on just that – how to get started on the writing path. There are lots of coaching tips and I’ve included worksheets to help you through those all-important first stages of decision making and planning, plus a guide to help equip you with attainable goals for moving forward in your new career. This course is for anyone thinking about changing their profession or seeking a solid base to grow their writing.

 

Do you dream of writing for God? A course from a Christian writer's perspective. Do you dream of writing Devotionals or Christian Romance? Discover what God may want you to write.
Find Your Writer’s Voice For God – click here to check out the course.

Your Write Voice for His Kingdom is now available from my online school.

If God is calling you to write for Him, there’s no better partnership.

You are His masterpiece, blessed one.

Til next time, know you are loved by the One who made you in His image.

Lynne

 

Personality Type Assessment

Discover your Personality Type with this easy personality assessment. Your answers will give you one of sixteen personality types using Introvert, Extrovert, Sensor, Intuitive, Thinker, Feeler, Judge and Perceiver.
Personality Types

Answer each question and tally the results for each section. Try to answer as truthfully as you can. If you’re unsure, ask someone who knows you well. At the bottom of each section choose the definition that you scored the highest with. At the end of the assessment, you will have 4 letters which will serve as your abbreviated personality type definition.

Extroverts

  • Have natural high energy
  • Are outwardly expressive
  • Social
  • Talk more than listen
  • Think out loud
  • Are spontaneous
  • Prefer a public role
  • May be easily distracted
  • Can multi-task
  • Are outgoing
  • Enthusiastic

Introverts

  • Have quiet energy
  • Are reserved
  • Comfortable being alone
  • Listen more than talk
  • Keep most thoughts to themselves
  • Think before acting
  • Prefer to work behind the scenes
  • Have good concentration
  • Focus on one task at a time
  • Are quiet in crowds
  • Calm

If you chose mostly ‘Extrovert’ answers, put E as the first letter of your personality type.
If you chose mostly ‘Introvert’ answers, put I as the first letter of your personality type.

Sensory

  • Focus on specifics and details
  • Like practical solutions
  • Remember facts
  • See what is
  • Live In the moment
  • Trust actual experiences
  • Use established skills
  • Like step-by-step instructions
  • Work at a steady pace

Intuitive

  • Focus on the big picture
  • Appreciate creative ideas
  • Notice anything new or different
  • See possibilities
  • Think of future implications
  • Trust their own instincts
  • Like to learn new skills
  • Figure things out on their own
  • Work in bursts of energy

If you chose mostly ‘Sensory’ answers, put S as the second letter of your personality type.
If you chose mostly ‘Intuitive’ answers, put N as the second letter of your personality type.

You now have 2 letters as your personality type. 2 more to go…

Thinkers

  • Make objective decisions
  • Appear cool and reserved
  • Are convinced by rational arguments
  • Are truthful and direct
  • Value honesty and fairness
  • Don’t usually take things personally
  • Are quick to see flaws
  • Motivated by achievement
  • Enjoy arguing or debating

Feelers

  • Make decisions based on their values and feelings
  • Are warm and friendly
  • Convinced by how they feel
  • Are diplomatic and tactful
  • Value harmony and compassion
  • Usually take things personally
  • Are quick to compliment others
  • Motivated by appreciation
  • Try to avoid arguments and conflict

If you chose mostly ‘Thinker’ answers, put T as the third letter of your personality type.
If you chose mostly ‘Feeler’ answers, put F as the third letter of your personality type.

You now have 3 letters as your personality type. One more time…

Judgers

  • Like a sense of being settled
  • Take responsibility seriously
  • Are usually prompt
  • Like to finish what they start
  • Work before they play
  • Need closure
  • Prefer to work with rules and boundaries
  • Stick with a plan
  • Like schedules

Perceivers

  • Like to keep their options open
  • Are playful and casual
  • Usually run late
  • Often have multiple unfinished projects
  • Play before work
  • Are often indecisive
  • Don’t like rules and order
  • Like to work with flexible plans
  • Are spontaneous

If you chose mostly ‘Judger’ answers, put J as the fourth letter of your personality type.
If you chose mostly ‘Perceiver’ answers, put P as the fourth letter of your personality type.

You now have your 4 basic personality type letters!

Introvert v Extrovert
Sensory v Intuitive
Thinker v Feeler
Judger v Perceiver

Place them in order: I or E, S or N, T or F, J or P
For example: an Introvert, Sensory, Thinker, Judger = ISTJ

The 4 letters describe your personality as one of 16 basic personality types.

Want to find out more about personalities and character development? Visit my Pinterest board for Writing Personality Types.

Til next time, remember you were made in the image of the One who created you.

Lynne

Your Spiritual Gifts from God

Before you begin your Spiritual Gifts evaluation, you’ll need to understand what Spiritual Gifts are, and are not. These passages from scripture will help you see how wonderful our Heavenly Father is, that He would give all His children such special Gifts!

Romans 12:6-8

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

1 Corinthians 12:28

Ephesians 4:11

1 Peter 4:9-10

As you willingly accept your Gifts from God, ask Him to reveal to you how He wants to use them to accomplish the special assignments He has for you to fulfil your purpose for His Kingdom on Earth.

This evaluation will take approximately twenty minutes.

 

Let’s begin to unwrap your Gifts

Spiritual Gifts Test with Lynne Collier

How much do you agree with each statement? Be totally honest as you are right now, not as you want to be. God can use you right now for His Kingdom, so start where you are right now in your life – warts and all! Hold on to the person you want to be – that person will emerge as you seek God with all your heart and trust His leadership. You may see other Gifts unwrap as you grow in your faith. Put your answer beside each statement. And don’t be shy – if you know you fit the statement – say it with confidence in the realization that it’s not anything you’ve done, but what God has done through you. Give Him all the glory!

Score as 0 = Not at all. 1 = Sometimes. 2 = Often. 3 = Usually. 4 = Almost always.

__ Q1. I effectively organize people and projects to reach goals in ministry and work.
__ Q2. I have specific plans for reaching defined goals.
__ Q3. I easily delegate tasks in order to make things run more smoothly.
__ Q4. I seek out opportunities to make decisions.
__ Q5. I understand what must be done to accomplish a goal.

__ Q6. I feel driven to start new projects for God.
__ Q7. I enjoy new challenges and taking risks.
__ Q8. I enjoy making a difference in other people’s lives.
__ Q9. I would like to work as Christ’s ambassador on earth.
__ Q10. I am willing to work hard to see churches reach their full potential.

__ Q11. I can usually tell right away what a person’s character and abilities are.
__ Q12. I usually know if something is from God, Satan or Man.
__ Q13. I recognize inconsistencies in people.
__ Q14. I realize people’s true motives for doing something.
__ Q15. I perceive when something is twisted in communication.

__ Q16. I am driven to impact other people’s lives for Christ.
__ Q17. I rejoice with people who have put their trust in the Lord in difficult times.
__ Q18. I seek out opportunities to help people reach their full potential for Christ.
__ Q19. I like to be able to inspire people and encourage them.
__ Q20. I rejoice at other people’s success.

__ Q21. I seek out opportunities to bridge the gap between myself and people not of my faith.
__ Q22. I sense when a person is open to the message of salvation.
__ Q23. I have helped many people come to faith in Christ.
__ Q24. I believe love, not logic, wins people to Christ.
__ Q25. I’m deeply burdened for those who don’t know Christ.

__ Q26. I welcome taking risks for God.
__ Q27. I get excited by overcoming obstacles through faith.
__ Q28. I readily accept a challenge that seems like a ‘mission impossible.’
__ Q29. I have a passionate prayer life.
__ Q30. I have a great sense that God is in control of all things.

__ Q31. I eagerly give more than the ten percent tithe in my offering.
__ Q32. I usually give anonymously when I can.
__ Q33. I look for ways I can increase my income in order to give more to the church.
__ Q34. I see my resources as belonging to God so I give beyond what is asked of me.
__ Q35. I know everything belongs to God and I am a steward of His bounty.

__ Q36. I firmly believe that people can be healed supernaturally.
__ Q37. I pray specifically to be used by God to heal people.
__ Q38. I believe healing occurs only by God’s will.
__ Q39. I view medical science as a means God sometimes uses to heal people.
__ Q40. I give God all the glory when He uses me to bring healing to someone.

__ Q41. I like to serve behind the scenes.
__ Q42. I rejoice in the success of others.
__ Q43. I like attention to detail.
__ Q44. I seek out ways to assist others in their tasks.
__ Q45. I don’t need recognition for the work I do.

__ Q46. I’m known for making people feel welcome and comfortable.
__ Q47. I seek out people who are alone in a crowd.
__ Q48. I have a strong desire to make people feel loved and accepted.
__ Q49. I see my home as belonging to God and I welcome visitors in His name.
__ Q50. I try to promote fellowship in believers when I can.

__ Q51. I have a clear understanding of what the speaker is saying, even if the language is unknown to me.
__ Q52. I can translate messages in a way that edifies and exhorts believers.
__ Q53. I am able to convey the meaning of words spoken by other believers to glorify God.
__ Q54. I am able to interpret messages given by someone speaking in a language unknown to the audience.
__ Q55. I am eager to interpret when someone starts speaking in an unknown language.

__ Q56. I devote much of my time to reading scripture.
__ Q57. I love to share biblical insights.
__ Q58. I love to help others understand God’s Word.
__ Q59. I feel strong benefits from studying the Bible.
__ Q60. I delight in answering difficult questions about scripture to glorify God.

__ Q61. I motivate others to work towards accomplishing visions for the future of the church.
__ Q62. I am naturally drawn into leadership roles.
__ Q63. I find it easy to inspire people to work together for the benefit of God’s kingdom.
__ Q64. I easily see the vision for the church.
__ Q65. I am happy to release responsibility to others who are qualified.

__ Q66. I am drawn to meeting the practical needs of others.
__ Q67. I devote much prayer time for the sake of others.
__ Q68. I grieve with those who grieve.
__ Q69. I generally place the needs of others above my own needs.
__ Q70. I feel fulfilled when I visit the sick, homeless, orphans or those in nursing homes.

__ Q71. I recognize prayer as a supernatural way God acts in the lives of people.
__ Q72. I give credit to God alone for supernatural works.
__ Q73. I fully understand it is by God’s will only that miracles happen.
__ Q74. I believe I am an instrument for God’s work on Earth.
__ Q75. When I encounter an impossible situation, I pray and look to God for His will.

__ Q76. I feel driven to help others reach their full potential in Christ.
__ Q77. I look for opportunities to serve others.
__ Q78. I enjoy developing a trusting relationship with a small group of people.
__ Q79. I am happy to give my time to help people with their spiritual needs.
__ Q80. I believe people take precedence over projects.

__ Q81. I am known for communicating God’s Word.
__ Q82. I enjoy sharing my strong biblical convictions with others.
__ Q83. I view myself as an instrument to be used by the Holy Spirit to change lives.
__ Q84. I find it easy to confront others’ motives if they don’t live up to biblical standards.
__ Q85. I frequently receive and share messages from God which comfort and challenge His people.

__ Q86. I spend many hours studying scripture in order to apply the truth.
__ Q87. I enjoy explaining God’s Word to others.
__ Q88. I seek out opportunities to speak biblical truth and principles into situations.
__ Q89. I enjoy helping people learn to study scripture.
__ Q90. I believe God’s Word can be effectively taught by several means.

__ Q91. I believe God prompts me to convey His messages through a language I don’t know.
__ Q92. I often pray for others in utterances using an unknown language.
__ Q93. I desire opportunities to pray for the church in an unknown language which I believe glorifies God.
__ Q94. I share words and messages given to me by God, using an unknown language.
__ Q95. I often comfort or encourage others using an unknown language inspired by God.

__ Q96. I enjoy speaking biblical insights into life situations.
__ Q97. I am often sought out by others for advice or wisdom.
__ Q98. I take great pleasure in counselling others.
__ Q99. I am known for making correct decisions and judgements.
__ Q100. I recognize God as the primary source of all wisdom.

Now tally your results:

Qs 1-5 =
Qs 6-10 =
Qs 11-15 =
Qs 16-20 =
Qs 21-25 =
Qs 26-30 =
Qs 31-35 =
Qs 36-40 =
Qs 41-45 =
Qs 46-50 =
Qs 51-55 =
Qs 56-60 =
Qs 61-65 =
Qs 66-70 =
Qs 71-75 =
Qs 76-80 =
Qs 81-85 =
Qs 86-90 =
Qs 91-95 =
Qs 96-100 =

Now record your highest marks and discover which Gifts God may have blessed you with.

Record your highest three scores. Your supportive scores are listed as your fourth, fifth and sixth.

If you score the same on more than one Gift, write them on the same line then go to the next score.

Qs 1-5: means you likely have the Spiritual Gift of Administration, and so on;
Qs 6-10 Apostleship
Qs 11-15 Discernment
Qs 16-20 Encouragement
Qs 21-25 Evangelism
Qs 26-30 Faith
Qs 31-35 Giving
Qs 36-40 Healing
Qs 41-45 Helping
Qs 46-50 Hospitality
Qs 51-55 Interpretation
Qs 56-60 Knowledge
Qs 61-65 Leadership
Qs 66-70 Mercy
Qs 71-75 Miracles
Qs 76-80 Pastoring
Qs 81-85 Prophecy
Qs 86-90 Teaching
Qs 91-95 Tongues
Qs 96-100 Wisdom

My Highest Gifts Are:

_______________________________

_______________________________

_______________________________

My Supportive Gifts Are:

_______________________________

_______________________________

_______________________________

Definitions of Spiritual Gifts

Administration is the Gift which serves and strengthens the body of Christ by effectively organizing resources and people in order to efficiently reach ministry goals.

Apostleship is the Gift which God uses to launch and lead new ministries to expand His kingdom.

Discernment recognizes truth or error within a message, person or event.

Encouragement helps others to live a godly life through inspiration, counselling, and empowerment.

Evangelism is the Gift that enables believers who are blessed to share the love of Christ in a way which draws people to accept the gift of salvation.

Faith helps those who have this Gift to see God’s purposes accomplished; trusting God to overcome all obstacles.

Giving encourages people to joyfully offer more than the usual tithe to further God’s kingdom.

Healing restores health beyond traditional and natural means, to those who are sick and suffering.

Helping offers assistance to others in reaching their goals that glorify God, without thought for the helper’s own gratification.

Hospitality provides others with a welcoming environment for fellowship and comfort.

Interpretation is the Gift which understands a message from God spoken in a language unknown to them or others in attendance.

Knowledge is the ability to communicate God’s truth to others for the purpose of promoting justice, honesty, and understanding.

Leadership is given to believers to relay visions of God’s will for spiritual growth and achieving specific goals.

Mercy is the ability to minister to those who suffer physically, emotionally, spiritually, or relationally. Their acts are characterized by their love, compassion, and kindness.

Miracles are supernatural acts that bring validity to God and His power.

Pastoring is having responsibility for a group of believers to equip them in Christ-centered living.

Prophecy offers messages from God that comfort, encourage, warn, and reveal truths that lead to repentance and spiritual growth.

Teaching is imparting sound doctrine in relevant ways, empowering people to grow in their faith.

Tongues communicate God’s message in a special language unknown to the speaker.

Wisdom is making wise decisions and counselling others with sound advice in accordance with God’s will.

Now you have an idea of the Spiritual Gifts God may have given you. Pray for His will and guidance to use your Gifts for His glory, and to serve others as you minister to them in the love that flows from Christ.

Lynne

“Eyes” – Communicating with an Autistic Child

ConsumerView logo(Photo courtesy of ConsumerView Marketing )

Communicating with a child who has Autism is no easy feat. Every child is different. Benjamin was in a different world than ours and connecting with him was a lengthy process, taking several years. The following is a segment from, Raising Benjamin Frog – A Mother’s Journey with her Autistic Son.

When Benjamin was very young he didn’t communicate much at all. He simply did as he was told, as much as he knew to do so. We would use single words to tell him “sit”, “stand”, “walk”, “washroom” etc and he would do it. Questions were met with no response, but we talked to him in complete sentences when we were having a one-sided conversation with him; as if he understood everything, in hopes that someday he would.

If we needed a response from him or he just ‘wasn’t with us’, we’d say his name and tell him to “Stop”. Sometimes it took several attempts and louder voices but eventually he’d stop. Then we’d walk over to him and hold his head until our eyes were directly in line with his and say, “Look at my eyes”. Once we had his focus on our eyes, he seemed to understand that we wanted to talk to him and he listened. After a while, we simplified things and just said, “Eyes”, and he would stop and look at us.

By doing this, we were trying to make a connection between our world and his; a way for him to see us and to step into our world for a short time to hear something important.  We would do this, for example, when we needed to do something potentially dangerous like crossing the street. We would say, “Cars. Hand”, and he would hold our hands and cross the street. Without this strategy, Benjamin was prone to walk in straight lines regardless of traffic, people or brick walls. So this technique was, I believe, a linking of souls which otherwise wouldn’t be able to communicate in typical ways.

Who would have thought that this little boy would one day become a published author and public speaker?

benjaminfrog.wordpress.com

Ben’s prognosis at this early age wasn’t high, as far as communication skills went. But as he grew, we learned to listen to the clues he gave us about the way he learned. He taught us so much more than any book could (we didn’t have the internet back then, and very little support except for our amazing pediatrician). Children with, or without Autism, show us their unique design if we take the time to listen and watch.

I hope you have a blessed day,

Lynne

Give It Away

Do you have a collection of something you treasure; art, books, old coins, stuffed animals? Most of us do. Our collections say a lot about who we are – our personalities and what we hold dear. I have a collection of books which belonged to my husband‘s parents.

Antique Book Cabinet

In it are yellowing pages bound in fraying covers and tattered spines. Some are old children’s stories, some are poetry, and one is even a much dated ‘Household Management’ book with instructions on how to set a formal dining table for 12 guests. (I don’t pull that one out very often!).

Victorian Dinner Table

Photo by Living History

These treasures are very dear to me because they remind me of the dear people who owned them, and also they link me to authors from long ago who had a vision of telling others what was close to their hearts. These family heirlooms I will not give away or sell, but will someday pass on to my family so they will tell stories of their grandparents to their children too.

Prompted by my daughters, I’ve recently ‘de-hoarded’ much of my home and given away what I thought would be useful to others. In the process, I realized I had collected notes and half-written short stories and poems. I felt compelled to share the literary treasures I had found, and have since turned some of the short stories into blogs or compilation pieces, and collected enough notes to write another e-book!

Do you find yourself hoarding your literary treasures? Is your notebook or laptop full of fascinating gems you haven’t done anything with yet? Share some of those gems with your audience every day. Let them see who you are and what inspires you.

I ‘follow’ several authors whose work I admire, but before I ‘liked’ them on Facebook or subscribed to their newsletter, I researched them online and got to know them as individuals. Once I liked what I saw, I followed them and even bought a book or two. Their online presence sometimes mentioned other authors they were inspired by, and I often bought their books too – all because they shared something that they treasured.

Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon – an author I follow

Now I do my best to pin or post one of my treasures every day. It’s not always about my work, but rather a gem I’ve discovered from someone else. I’ve collected a piece of their collection, cherished it, and then given it away for others to do the same. Check your notebooks and archived files. Are you hoarding treasure? If you are, start giving it away and see what happens…

Gemstones

A Piece of Cake

I thought I would spend the entire winter improving my social media and using it to market my books. Then I’d sell a lot of books and become successful, right? It turns out that all this social media takes a lot of time and drags me away from what I really want to do – write! How can I become a successful author if I don’t have time to write any books? It’s like a giant cake sitting on my laptop, and – though I like cake once in a while – I couldn’t eat a whole one without being, well – you know!

Aunt Audrey’s Favourites

          photo coutesy of  http://www.auntaudreyscakes.com/gallery_wedding.html

What do I get from all this social media stuff anyway? As time-consuming as it may be, I’ve realized through it all that I have in fact gained something. I’ve gained an online writing community. I’ve gained friends and colleagues along the way and followed mentors. So that’s what this blog is all about. Success doesn’t come overnight – for most of us anyway. We need to take it one bite at a time, savour the morsels of small successes along the way, and share a piece of the cake with someone every day. The task isn’t as daunting that way. Let me explain…

Each day, if I follow my writing schedule, I will have worked on one of the following:

Blog – my work, my interests, my faith.

eBook – I always have a list of interests I want to share.

Print Book – my larger volumes of writing, usually one fiction and one non-fiction on the go at the same time.

Plus I will have posted on my Facebook business page or pinned on my Pinterest writing board each day too.

My blog is where you’re at now. You can see what I’ve written in my past posts and you can follow me if you like. You can also follow my Facebook page and Pinterest boards. All of these social media sites are an interest/hobby and I can share a piece of my cake there without it taking a lot of time. I’m doing a small piece of marketing while having fun. It doesn’t seem like much effort or need to take up too much time (although do set your timer for an allotted amount of time if you tend to get carried away!). Occasionally someone will like what I’ve posted/pinned and buy one of my books because of their interest in what I’ve shared.

If you’re a writer – share a sentence from the novel you’re writing (no spoilers!) or an excerpt from an ebook you just published. How about pinning a picture that inspired part of your book? Or make a 30 second YouTube video of you reading part of your published book, as a teaser.

If you’re an artist, share a part of your sketch, or the colour scheme of your latest design.

Remember to keep it about your work – not what you had for lunch. (Unless you’re a blogger or author of recipes). Whatever your work is, that’s your focus. Each thing you share with others becomes part of your collection. Your collection becomes who you are as an author.

Even one minute each day to pin or post something will be 30+ things you’ve shared at the end of the month.

Turn each one into a couple of paragraphs and that equals a 30 page ebook!

10 ebooks becomes a 300 page novel!

See how that works? –

Piece of cake!

Lynne

Artist’s drawing of a gran (me) eating cake with her cat, by Crafyjoe on Free Digital Images

It’s a Pleasure to Meet You

How do you respond when you meet someone for the first time?
Generally we shake their hand like a soggy fish, force a tired smile and say something like, “Nice to meet you” or “Good to meet you”.
Sometimes we really aren’t sure how we feel or we’re disinterested and simply say “Hi”.
How does it make you feel when you meet someone for the first time and they seem genuinely happy to meet you?
Great – right?
They smile, shake your hand firmly and say “It’s a pleasure to meet you!”

What if you could make everyone who follows you feel this way?
You can – at least you can do your best.
Not everyone who reads your work will be pleased to meet you, but those who are deserve to meet the real you.
Some will decide you’re not the kind of person they’re interested in following, some will follow you for a time until they lose interest, but others will stick it out for the duration because they’ve found you to be interesting and likable.

These are the ones you want to give something of yourself to so that they will say, “It’s a pleasure to meet you!”

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It’s a pleasure to meet you!

So how do you get them to know you well enough to put a smile on their face from a distance?
Lets go back to the old school of communication – you tell them something about what you both have in common. If you’re new to writing you need a way to connect with your followers in that common thread.
Start out by showing them what you’ve already written.

  • Do you have a blog of your own?
  • Do you use Pinterest to showcase your work?
  • Do you send out a newsletter?

If you haven’t published any books yet, a blog is a good place to start. This will get you noticed online and you’ll start to get followers. The more followers, the more sharing online and the further up you go on the searches. This takes time, so do a few things and do them often.
It took me about six months before I got the hang of it. I’m constantly learning from other writers I follow.

Share something about you first.

-What’s your passion in life?
-Do you feel comfortable sharing a few notes about your personal life? No details here – just where you grew up and a few places you’ve lived, not necessarily your current town if it’s small.
-Are you married, do you have children or pets? You get the idea. Remember what goes on the internet can be read by EVERYONE!

ID-10041681

Let your followers get to know who you are before you expect them to follow your work. Treat them as pen-pals. (Under 40? – ask your grandparents). I had several pen-pals growing up. We exchanged names and addresses through school. Honest!

Then start to show them what you do.

  • Write an introductory blog about your writing goals. Again, don’t share specifics of a work in progress, rather an idea of work.
  • What inspired you to work on this particular project?
  • How far along are you in this? When I was writing Raising Benjamin Frog – A Mother’s Journey with her Autistic SonI Pinned about Autism to show followers what I was writing about.
  • Share some excerpts that don’t give away any spoilers. You want them to buy your finished work.
  • Open a Pinterest account to showcase your work and any pins related to it. I have a personal Pinterest account where followers can get to know me, and also a business Pinterest account where I showcase my own work and the work of fellow writers.
  • If you plan on going to events to sell your books/art, or you intend to be a speaker, a newsletter may be of benefit. I use Constant Contact because they make the guide quite easy and they keep track of your open rate.
  • Tweet. I don’t because I think I may become too ‘addicted’, but if you have good self-control, go for it.

Use your blog and Pinterest analytics to find out what your followers like, then write, post and pin like crazy. Set yourself a social media schedule so you don’t get carried away and forget to write! I generally collect ideas and file them into categories for each social media venue. Then it takes me less time to actually share it.

Here’s a great example: In 2013, Commander Chris Hadfield, commander of the International Space Station, wanted to connect with people on Earth and show them what real life was like on a space station, so –

“During his next five-month mission, while performing all his regular astronautical duties, he tweeted, answered questions from his followers, posted pictures he’d taken of Earth, recorded music, and filmed YouTube videos of himself…” Austin Kleon in Show Your Work

The best part of all this social media sharing is, you get to meet some really interesting people and they get to meet you. Remember to always give credit to those whose work you share on any social media; a link to their own blog, accredit to their Pinterest boards, link to their website to buy their books.

If all this seems daunting, take heart. I learned it veeeeery slowly and I’m still learning, as you’ll come to realize 😉 You can take classes at your local college, at a local business advisory centre, or hire someone to do it for you Webrite Design and Social Media.

Next time we’ll look at different topics to share.

Happy writing!

Lynne

Finding Your Writer’s Voice

Finding your writer’s voice –
So you’ve decided to become a writer.
How do you decide what to write about?

Start with what compelled you to write in the first place. Chances are, you have a passion for something and want the whole world to know about it. You want to share your passion. That’s what you write about. Even if you decide to write an autobiography, it can be full of passion. After all, aren’t we passionate about ourselves? I hope so! So write about your experiences, good or bad, that link to your passion.

Herein lies your writer’s voice.

It’s not an audible voice, but a recognizable pattern of words which will speak to your audience and connect you to your readers. They’ll come to hear you in the way you write; the influence of dialect, the grammar (or lack thereof) and style, as if they were listening to spoken words. So be yourself. Let your audience get to know you. You don’t need to be famous, but you do need to be authentic.

Dr. Seuss. Today you are you...

printable from makingtheworldcuter.com

 

I started out as a writer after three people told me I should write a book about raising my son who’s on the Autism Spectrum. Many people knew my journey through short stories I’d spoken, but encouraged me to write them down to share with others who didn’t know me. Until then, I hadn’t thought of being a writer. But looking back, I remembered I used to love to write fictional stories and poetry. I had simply forgotten. It’s funny how life can get you so far off track.

Maybe you have a similar story to tell. Have others encouraged you to write? Have you always been a writer, even if only in notebooks no one else reads? We all come to this point from different paths. It doesn’t matter how you start out. It just matters that you start.

So  discover what inspires you and type, type, type like crazy. If you want to write a fictional story, check the ‘Inspiring Imagery’ on White Rose Writers’ Pinterest for some ideas.  It’s the board where I pin pics of fantasy and sci-fi and scenes in nature around the world, to encourage writers to get those creative juices flowing. I love the creative mind.

Find books on topics you’re passionate about and read, read, read. Search online for blogs to follow from people who have the same passion. Can you ‘hear’ them in their writing? Do you recognize their ‘voice’?

Write a few blogs, a magazine article, a review of someone else’s work for practice. Save them in docs and don’t worry about editing them. Organize them and file them away for now. We’ll look at what to do with them next time. Just immerse yourself in the process and let it carry you away. Find your writer’s voice.

Enjoy!

Lynne

 

Where to Begin When You’ve Decided to Write

I’m not sure if that’s a declaration or a question.
I’ve been writing for about two years. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. I’ve been writing since I was about four – I’ve been writing professionally, that is to say, being paid for what I write, for about three years. So I’m classed as a novice writer with a lot yet to learn. I was told recently by a seasoned author, that we never stop learning as long as we never stop writing. I’m beginning to understand that.
Something else I’ve learned recently about the life of a writer is – to share what I’ve learned with others. I already knew this from a general perspective as a life coach and workshop host, to pass on knowledge to the next generation of people so we, as a global community, may improve life for those to come. It didn’t occur to me to apply it to my writing. I thought I should guard my work against the world until it was acceptable to read, without flaws. And isn’t it self-defeating to share my work, in case someone beats me to the finish line? I’ve learned the answer is “no”. What does it matter if someone steals my idea and creates something from it? Remember – share for the next novice to learn from.
So as I embark on an adventure of literary discovery, I invite you to join me; to wade through these sometimes murky waters, to experience the flow of a river of creative thoughts and ride the waves of joy and excitement with me as we blog, journal, research and publish together.

What I learned first:
• You can’t call yourself a writer if you’re waiting to get better at it. If you’re waiting – then you’re a waiter, not a writer. So just start writing!
• Practice calling yourself a writer. If you’ve written your first sentence of a 300-page novel – congratulations – you’re a writer!
• Don’t let anyone steal your dream – not even you. If someone says you can’t make a living at it or pretty much gives you the impression of “who do you think you are”? don’t buy into that. Ignore them or have a good answer ready. I know many people who earn full-time pay for writing.
• Research what you’re writing about; whether it’s a novel, a series of blogs, a magazine article or a collection of thoughts you don’t yet know what to do with, you need to be able to link, accredit and support what you say. If you’re writing a historic novel, for example, you’ll need to know all you can about the aspects of life at that time in history. Keep your information in a file specific to that piece, for future reference. Fans may be interested in where you learned about your storyline.
• Set a schedule for yourself. Be realistic in how many hours a day, how many days a week, you want to devote to writing. Use a filing system online, on your PC or laptop, or a calendar pinned to your workstation with different couloured sticky notes. Whatever works for you. Be prepared for unexpected intrusions and don’t get your knickers in a knot over them.

I would like to end this first Building a Writing Platform by sharing from a book I recently purchased,Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. On being an amateur writer, Kleon writes;
“Don’t worry, for now, about how you’ll make money or a career of it. Forget about being an expert or a professional, and wear your amateurism (your heart, your love) on your sleeve. Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you”.

So how did I do?
As you start your literary journey, I hope you’ll keep in touch. Let me know if this post helped you. Leave a comment or a question.

I’d love to hear from you. – Lynne

Author of Speculative Fiction

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