Children with disabilities, choices, and how schools can fail them.

As some of you may know my eldest child, Mackenzie, has a medical condition that means that his muscles don’t always work as they should do which leaves him weaker than average, prone to bouts of fatigue, and occasionally having to use his wheelchair.
Currently he is still at primary school but in September 2018 (which is scarily close!)  he will be starting his secondary education (or high school for my American friends 🙂 )  and, as such, we’ve spent the last few nights visiting potential schools.
Due to the ‘peculiarities’ of the country we have chosen to live in, Northern Ireland,  (as much as I moan about it it IS a beautiful country, with some of the friendliest and most giving people, and one of the best educational systems in the world, and THE best health system too, plus it has my family and it is home) it is a segregated country, choosing to mostly define itself by its two major religions: protestant and catholic, and the majority of its schools are split that way too. However my children go to an integrated school where, be deliberate choice, children are NOT split by their faith, but educated together by all faiths, or none. The nearest secondary school/high school which is integrated is about 15 miles away, or 25 minutes drive; this would mean Mackenzie getting up earlier, leaving the house earlier, and getting a bus to and from school every day …and 1/ potentially getting more fatigued due to this and 2/ being much further from home if there ever were to be a medical emergency that required us (so far in the 6 years at primary school there hasn’t been but, you know, we worry). The thing about it, the unfortunate thing about it, was that we all adored the place; there was NOTHING, not to love about it other than the location. Every aspect of it: the fact it was all on one floor, the teaching staff, the obvious happiness of the kids, the educational ethos, the league standings, the gifted stream, the pastoral care (and specialism for disabled children), EVERYTHING, was perfect!
So, this led to us, unfortunately, deciding that we may have to drop our principles in regards to wanting to only ever have our kids at an integrated school and ‘maybe’ look into a school closer to home that was segregated by faith (obviously, as agnostic Humanists that isn’t a major issue as we are classed as not having a faith for the school numbers, but as a matter of principle it rankled a tad), due to the matter of what was best for Mackenzie.
One of the schools is, literally, just outside our house; we can look outside Mackenzie’s bedroom window and see the school. We attended the open night and he loved what he saw – it was fresh, and vibrant, and fun. The children were happy, the approach to education was child focused, and they had a library that was the size that some small villages would be envious of …and they had a lift to take you from the ground floor to the second and, where there were more stairs, they had wheelchair lifts to take you up. We all had a REALLY good feeling about this school, even though, from a ‘league’ viewpoint, it wasn’t at the top of the scale and maybe didn’t offer everything that a gifted child needed (not to boast, or to sound biased, but Mackenzie is only 9 and is testing beyond a 16 year old currently) … but he LOVED the feel of the place.
The third school that we visited was the oldest school in Northern Ireland, and the second oldest school in Ireland (and a school that I myself ‘technically’ went too – didn’t go to for very long so don’t count it 😉 ) and has a very good reputation, and offers some amazing opportunities both educationally and in terms of your onward CV …but from the moment that we arrived, and had to go up an old flight of stairs, then over cobbled pavement, and down another flight of stairs into an old lecture theater, to hear the welcome speech from the Headmaster, we knew there would be issues. Rightly or wrongly so the whole speech, and the whole tour, was aimed at, and around, the educational attainment of the children, but also, the whole tour was lengthy, and up and down MANY flights of stairs and around a very old (the original building was built some time in the 1700s) castle type structure. We didn’t last the whole tour, to be honest, because Mackenzie got too tired and asked to go home; he liked some of what he saw, but said he didn’t think that he’d like to go there; I managed to speak to the Deputy Head about accessibility for a child in a wheelchair and, to his credit, he was extremely frank and honest, and he answered with one word: ‘problematic’. There are not lifts at all anywhere in the school, not even in the newer parts, let alone the ancient parts, all of which are used, daily, for all the students. He said that we should arrange to speak to the bursar, the Headmaster, and the Education Authority if we were interested in sending Mackenzie there to see if anything could be done …but, to be honest, if nothing has been done already – and considering that the Disability Discrimination Act came into force in 1995 which means that they should have done something, ANYTHING, to address these issues by now – I don’t hold out much hope that they would be able to do much for one child anyway. I just found it quite staggering, and more than a little disgraceful, that a school that opened a welcoming speech by saying that they were there for a ‘whole child experience’ were so woefully unable to actually allow a disabled child to even be educated there at all.
End of the day while this school ‘may’ have been one of the better choices from an educational standpoint it has definitely ruled itself out in every other way and has made the choice of where Mackenzie goes next a little bit easier to make.

Short story: ‘Shave’ By Jay Faulkner

shaveA while back (six months, but who’s counting? Admittedly I kinda had a nasty dose of pneumonia and was in hospital so that is why I forgot to publicise/pimp the thing 🙂 ) I wrote a piece for the Indiana Voice Journal based on the theme of ‘Freedom’ and the following blurb: ‘This issue wells up from the heart of humanity. Poets and authors from many different countries, including the USA, give us a glimpse of their life, their hopes, their cries for justice, and their struggles for freedom. Topics are as diverse as racial stereotyping; intolerance for gender identity; immigration; elections; the horrors of rape, war, poverty, and genocide. But there is also an exuberant cry rising up from the many voices: one of gratitude, joy, compassion, and…humor.’
Now my piece may not be for everyone as it is dark in places, and has a character that may trigger some homophobic feelings, but, hopefully, there is the light there that I was aiming for (that the editor and publisher saw anyway) to make it worth reading, if you want to take the time to do so of course 🙂

Book Blast: Odium IV -The Dead Saga by Claire C. Riley

odium

The Dead Aren’t the only thing to fear… 

A kid, an old lady, and a heartbroken man…what could possibly go wrong?

Mikey is holding true to his promise to Nina, and is doing everything he can to keep the group alive. But when something volleyattacks the threesome in the middle of the night, things begin to take a turn for the worst.

Luckily a new group—the N.E.O.s are on hand to ease Mikey’s burden and help fight alongside him. But first he must prove his worth to the leader Aiken and the people that follow him. Within this new group, Mikey begins to find a form of peace that he didn’t think was possible after losing Nina, and he discovers his place within this new world. A place where killing isn’t for fun, and is only ever committed as a last resort.

His heart is still aching, but at the end of the world there’s no time to stop and mourn, and as he searches out a Circus Freak Show and the horrors begin to stack up around him, Nina slips far from his mind.

It’s probably best, because there are many more terrors in store for him. Because within the folds of a small town, inside an old candy store, he meets a woman named Clare, her two dogs and something that he never saw coming.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Claire C. Riley is a USA Today and International bestselling author. She is also a bestselling

British horror writer and an Amazon top 100 bestseller.

creillyHer work is best described as the modernization of classic, old-school horror. She fuses multi-genre elements to develop storylines that pay homage to cult classics while still feeling fresh and cutting edge. She writes characters that are realistic, and kills them without mercy.

Claire lives in the United Kingdom with her husband and three daughters.

Author of:

Odium The Dead Saga Series (4 books),

Odium Origins Series (3 books),

Limerence (The Obsession Series) (2 books),

Out of the Dark Series,

Twisted Magic,

Thicker than Blood series (2 books),

& Shut Up & Kiss me,

Plus several charity anthologies.

books

Contact Links:

www.clairecriley.com

www.facebook.com/ClaireCRileyAuthor

http://amzn.to/1GDpF3I

‘She writes characters that are realistic and then kills them without mercy’ – Eli Constant author of Z-Children, Dead Trees, Mastic and much more.

Release date: December 12th 2016

Genre: post-apocalyptic zompoc with elements of ridiculous snark!

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

targetSo, I am now a fully paid up member of Archery GB, Archery NI and the Northern Ireland Civil Service Sports Association Archery Club; I have also spent money on buying equipment for myself (even though the club are providing most of it for me for a few months I wanted to get some of of my personalised/preferenced things instead) though I did manage (just) to stop short of buying a bow somehow 😉 …so who wants to start the betting for just how long it takes before I get either so ill that I can’t continue or my arms fall off, ey? 🙂

 
…oh, and my first actual COMPETITION is on the 17th December because I believe that, after only 4 classes back, why not jump in with both feet and all the way up my broken body waaaay over my head, and do a double (yes it’s actually a double competition in one day – like I said, jumping in with both feet! GRIN) Portsmouth and have some fun. What’s the worst that can happen, ey? 🙂
 
Back in the day, after getting out of hospital after six months immobile or in a wheelchair, I was told not to do martial arts, sky dive, or bungee jump …almost twenty nine later I’m now a 5th degree black belt in kung fu (still haven’t bungee jumped or sky-dived though, really must get around to that 😉 ) so once I put my mind to something I rarely let things stop me. I have a plan for what I want to do with archery and while this may be very early days yet I feel the same buzz, giddiness, glee, and antici ….pation (to quote the good Doctor Frankenfurter) I did back when I took my first steps (literally and figuratively) in martial arts now with archery; a quote I find very apt at the moment is “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” I really like that because it means that you have to try your best to attain your goal, or your dreams, and you (or in this case me I suppose) have to have a big dream to begin with …the thing is – which is really the apt part, being archery related and all 😉 – is that I have a dream, a goal, and it is a big one, and I am aiming for it, and am going to work my little backside off towards it, but I don’t intend to miss it at all! 🙂

On names and their orders.

disabilityLucy Webster (@Lucy_Webster_) is a politics and international relations graduate from Warwick University. She was named Student Columnist of the Year by the Guardian in 2014 and is now a freelance journalist, writing on social and political issues including disability and foreign affairs; recently she wrote a really interesting article for The Guardian (UK newspaper) on her thoughts about being a trailblazer in life ‘simply’ because she is a disabled woman and how, sometimes, she would like to be seen first not as her wheelchair but as just the person.

This is something that I can very much relate to.

Being disabled, by the very definition, obviously does mean being different in some way or manner but that in itself doesn’t HAVE to be the defining thing about the disabled person …or, to swap that last part around (as I prefer to put it) about the person who is disabled. See that difference may be slight, or simple, grammatically speaking, or just for you, the reader, but for me (because I can only speak – or write – for myself here) as someone who actually is disabled it is actually massive.

You see (or maybe you don’t, but that’s ok because that it what I am trying to help you with here) is that sometimes it can be hard putting a positive face on when you are ill, or hurting, or struggling (or all three) or facing the obstacles that living with a disability can hurl your way. The very last thing that you want – on top of everything else that you deal with on an ongoing, daily basis – is for the world to look at you and see you as your disability first and foremost or, even worse, only. You know, last time I looked in the mirror at least, I don’t have a neon sign above my head with an arrow pointing down at me with the words CONGENITAL MYASTHENIA in bold text, or SPINA BIFIDA decals on my jackets, I don’t even have a blue wheelchair tattooed on me so that I get to park anywhere I choose if I forget my blue badge (though that ‘could’ be handy I suppose 😉 ). In fact in polite company most people ask for my name before asking me for my medical background …even the many doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, and occasional witch-doctors (you never know they might just work 😉 ) still get my name before getting down with the faulty genetics you know.

It’s something that I still struggle with myself; I realise the importance of equality and especially diversity in everyday life but especially my own little corner of geekdom which is genre fiction, comics, and gaming where women, people of colour, non-straight, and disabled people are underrepresented so when I am asked if I would be interested in being considered for an anthology, or another piece of work, you would think that I would be really up for it wouldn’t you. You’d think …

…but there’s a part of me that is still really coming to terms with the fact if I am being asked to these things because I am a disabled writer who is pretty good, or a pretty good writer who also just happens to be disabled. I have to admit that worries me, perhaps more than it should.

Book Blast: Fatherly Instincts – An Anthology of Murder and Malice

Murderandmalice The term ‘fatherly instincts’ isn’t easily defined as a specific set of characteristics. Every father is different and so are his natural instincts. But when those instincts kick in, nothing can stop them, not even death.

This Father’s Day anthology is all about fathers protecting their children, revenge, men going above and beyond for children and exhibiting other fatherly instincts in unexpected ways.

✰ Ipecacuanha ✰ MCKENZIE WINBERRY (Contest Winner)
✰ Endsong ✰ JAY FAULKNER (Contest Winner)
✰ Megachiroptera Echolocation ✰ STEPHEN COONEY (Artist)
✰ Villains ✰ ROSE BLACKTHORN
✰ Vengeance is Mine I Will Repay ✰ TAYE CARROL
✰ Asshole Season ✰ LISA DABROWSKI
✰ Judge Not ✰ DUSTY DAVIS
✰ Like Father, Like Son ✰ CLAIRE DAVON
✰ Insure Us With Grace ✰ SK DELPH
✰ Grave Robbing ✰ RONALD GILLESPIE
✰ The Confession ✰ JIM HUTCHINSON
✰ Like Fireflies in the Dead of Winter ✰ THOMAS KLEATON
✰ Where Are They Now? ✰ D.K. MASON
✰ Not Today ✰ EILEEN MATSUMURO
✰ Our Little Alice ✰ RICK BENFORD (Photographer)
✰ Termination ✰ JOHN MCACHREN
✰ Father Dog ✰ PETE MESLING
✰ Last Stand ✰ TERRY MICHAELS
✰ Daddy’s Girl ✰ DONNA J. W. MUNRO
✰ Spaced ✰ JOHN ROSSMAN
✰ Catch of the Season ✰ JO-ANNE RUSSELL & RICK BENFORD
✰ Psicografia de Papai ✰ M.J. SYDNEY
✰ Poppy Flower ✰ PEGGY WHEELER
✰ The Funeral ✰ SHERI WHITE
✰ Mr Jones’s Dog Died ✰ VAL WILLIAMSON

Buy it here*:

US > https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HKHDW7S

*print copy available soon!

Book Blast: Swords v Cthulhu edited by Molly Tanzer and Jesse Bullington

Swords_v_Cthulhu_DRAFT_COVER_350What hope has a humble adventurer when faced with a fight against Cthulhu himself? No matter; the true swordsperson cares not for hope—only for the bite of steel against flesh, whether that flesh be eldritch or more conventional. So, grab your khukuri knife, your iklwa spear, or a legendary blade and journey with us from ancient Rome to feudal Japan, from the Dreamlands to lands there are no names for in any of the tongues of men.

If you have any doubts, inside this tome you can consult ask some of Lovecraftiana’s hottest voices, be they seasoned veterans or relative newcomers…

Hope be damned. Glory awaits!

Relentlessly hurtling you into madness and danger are:

Natania BARRON • Eneasz BRODSKI • Nathan CARSON
Michael CISCO • Andrew S. FULLER • Adam Scott GLANCY
Orrin GREY • Jason HELLER • Jonathan L. HOWARD
John Horner JACOBS • John LANGAN • L. LARK
Remy NAKAMURA • Carlos ORSI • M. K. SAUER
Ben STEWART • E. Catherine TOBLER • Jeremiah TOLBERT
Laurie TOM • Carrie VAUGHN • Wendy WAGNER • Caleb WILSON

These 22 authors delivered some of the finest white-knuckle, Mythos-busting adventures it has been our pleasure to ever read, and we are confident that when the book is released in July 2016 you will feel the same.

Pub Date:    1 July 2016
ISBN-13:    9781908983091
Price:          £8.99
Format:     B Format – 198x129mm
Binding:    Paperback
Extent:      282 pages
ebook:      Included with print copy

http://www.stoneskinpress.com

Spotlight: Irish Author Julieanne Lynch Brings Us “Unbreak Me”

unbreakmeOn May 31st Totally Bound Publishing will release Julieanne Lynch’s contemporary romance novel, Unbreak Me.  The book will be available on all major e-book platforms.

Becket, author of The Blood Vivicanti & personal assistant to author Anne Rice said “Julieanne Lynch is a truly gifted writer.”

About the book:

Molly Rice just wants to go through life unnoticed. To work hard, buy a little house, and perhaps settle down some day. Everything else she can do without.

Connor Ellison, the son of the hard-nosed CEO of Ellison Enterprises, finds it hard to ignore the pretty doe-eyed girl who one day accidentally walks into his life. Completely bowled over by her beautiful nature, Connor embarks on a whirlwind mission to make Molly his.

Molly soon finds herself lost in a billionaire’s paradise, but she isn’t easily persuaded. In one year, everything changes. When feelings get involved, there’s so much more at play.

Can Molly and Connor overcome the many hurdles that are pitted against them? Do they have the strength to unbreak each other’s hearts?

About the author:jlynch

Julieanne Lynch is an author of urban fantasy and contemporary fiction for both adults and teens. Julieanne lives in Northern Ireland, with her husband and five children, where she works on novels full-time. Before becoming a writer, she considered a few different career paths, a rock star being one of them. She studied English Literature and Creative Writing at The Open University, and considered journalism as a career path. However, she decided writing was the way for her and is thankful for each day she lives her dream.

www.julieannelynch.com

About Totally Bound Publishing:

Totally Bound – the Home of Erotic Romance.

Totally Bound delivers ‘A List’ escapism for readers who love erotic romance fiction. They are the go-to destination for deliciously good stories that put a smile on readers’ faces and a spring in their step.

The Totally Team are passionate about quality. They seek out, nurture and polish captivating stories with mesmerizing plots and compelling characters from the most amazing authors. The result is a truly decadent, enjoyable and divine ‘me time’ reading experience – the very best stimulation for the imagination available.

Totally Bound is a part of Bonnier Publishing. Bonnier Publishing is the fastest growing major publisher in the UK, with group sales of £100m. It also has offices in Australia, France and the USA with 460 employees worldwide. In the UK it owns publishers Hot Key Books, Zaffre, Twenty7, Totally Bound Publishing, Pride Publishing, IglooBooks, Templar Publishing, Blink Publishing, Autumn Publishing, Picadilly Press, Weldon Owen Publishing and Studio. Its overseas publishers are The Five Mile Press and Echo Publishing in Australia, Paris-based publishers Piccolia abd Elcy, and little bee books in New York. Bonnier Publishing is owned by Bonnier Books, which is a top 15 world publisher with revenue of £550m.

#ArtVsArtist – a glimpse at my other art

Back in the day, before I started writing, I thought that I was going to pursue a career as an artist, preferably as a comic book artist (preferably with Marvel Comics …though I do have a lot of love for DC too). While I am, professionally speaking, an IT Manager for a Criminal Justice Sector organisation, specialising in Information Assurance by day, and attempting to be a writer by night (and parts of some days too) I’m actually, educationally speaking (at least according to my Degree) and artist.

So when I saw a new trend going around on Facebook and Twitter today, called #ArtVsArtist, where people were posting a picture of themselves surrounded by artwork that they had done. Now initially when I saw the sheer array of talent that was on show I decided that I would simply scroll through it all and enjoy what I was seeing rather than post anything myself but then, as time went on, I realised that just because I didn’t* produce artwork as much anymore didn’t mean that I couldn’t/shouldn’t be brave enough to show off some of the work that I had enjoyed making.

So here it is; here is me #ArtVsArtist

artvsartist

Spotlight: Icarus by Gregory A. Wilson

icarusgnGraphic Novel Icarus Takes Fantasy Fiction to New Heights
A Fresh Take on Ancient Mythology Provides a Feast for the Eyes

Fantasy author Gregory A. Wilson is pleased to announce the release of his new graphic novel, Icarus, via Silence in the Library Publishing. Collaborating with artists Mark Dos Santos and Matt Slay, Wilson’s newest endeavor will instantly appeal to fans of fantasy, art, and new takes on mythology.

Icarus is the story of two characters, Icarus and Jellinek, people as different as night and day. As the story goes on, however, the winged and fair Icarus and the ruddy and gruff Jellinek discover that while they may be unlikely companions, they are connected by the mysteries and trials of their world, Vol. Together, they will fight to end the tyranny of the leading Magisters and try to gain the freedom of an entire people. The story takes place inside the heart of a massive dormant volcano called Vol, on a world far from Earth.

Wilson, a college professor by day, has always been intrigued by the Icarus myth of ancient mythology. Touching on many themes like the relationship between fathers and sons, joy and sorrow, ambition, lack of control, and the simplicities and complexities of survival, the original tale was a deeply sad story. While pondering the story, Wilson wondered what would happen if some hope was pulled from the despair. Would the story veer in a different direction? This thought process, coupled with some inspiration from a Cirque Du Soleil show, created the story of Icarus as it exists in Wilson’s graphic novel.

While Icarus is Gregory A. Wilson’s first graphic novel project, he has also written a fantasy novel, The Third Sign, and is contracted to write a series, the Gray Assassins Trilogy, which will be released via the Ed Greenwood Group over the next couple of years. He has also penned several short stories. The experiences of writing prose stories versus writing for a graphic novel differed a great deal. While writing the graphic novel, Wilson had to work closely with artists and allow their illustrations to do the work of bringing readers into the world of Vol as well as supplying some of the emotional reactions of the characters. With this type of collaboration, readers will be able to experience Icarus and the world of Vol and its inhabitants in a way that wouldn’t be possible with just straight prose.

“I’ve always imagined Icarus to be a very visual story, with really dramatic, visually-driven set pieces,” Wilson says. “That’s why the art is so special–it really captures the images I had in my head to begin with, giving them a powerfully tangible quality which would have been difficult for me to represent on my own.”

Graphic novel and fantasy fans of all kinds can experience this visual feast for themselves—Icarus is now available on amazon.com. For more information, please visit Gregory A. Wilson’s website at www.gregoryawilson.com