Monthly Archives: March 2013

Meeting the Challenge

I don’t play sports and I’m not usually a fan of soccer, but I might become one now after watching this guy. Nico Calabria was born with one leg but that hasn’t kept him from doing some amazing things. Things like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro when he was 13, talking about the experience on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and having his incredible soccer goal go viral on

Calabria plays on Concord-Carlisle High School’s varsity team and it’s a testament to his strength, determination, and skill that he holds his own side by side with able-bodied teammates. In an interview with CBS, Calabria talked about how he doesn’t see himself as having a disability, only a challenge. And who doesn’t face challenges in their life?

I think this attitude serves him well. Calabria sees himself clearly and isn’t afraid to show it to the world. In grade school he left behind his prosthetic and went for the crutches instead. Not only was the prosthetic holding him back athletically, it also felt too much like trying to be normal, when Calabria knew he was anything but. That’s a sentiment I can admire as an adult, but I know I didn’t have that kind of strength and maturity at that age, so I’ll just say “wow”. I hope to see more of this kid in the future.

Another article on Calabria, if you’re interested.

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A Sexy Soldier

Embattled HeartsEmbattled Hearts by J.M. Madden

After returning from Iraq in a wheelchair, John is having trouble accepting his new limitations, especially since he has his eye on Shannon, the new receptionist at the agency. He suffers in silence, knowing he’s lost too much to be attractive to her. But John doesn’t know that Shannon has eyes of her own and is determined to prove he’s exactly the man she wants.

Embattled Road

I came across The Embattled Road, prequel to Embattled Hearts, a couple weeks ago and fell in love with the premise. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by its execution. The novella felt like it had been slapped together and could have used a lot more editing before hitting shelves, but – and it’s a big but – it included the first chapter of Embattled Hearts. That one chapter convinced me I needed to give Madden one more chance.

In the end, I was glad I did.

I had a couple big problems with this book and by all rights they should have been big enough to ruin it for me. For example, I was really dissatisfied with John’s growth. I’m not a fan of characters who remain static through a book until three pages from the back cover they have some kind of huge turn around and suddenly they’ve solved their particular problem. I want to see change, I want to see them learning from their mistakes and maturing through the story. John just went in circles. One very, very, small circle.

Also, John’s emotional struggle with his disability seemed obvious and a little shallow. He worried about not being man enough for the woman he loved, not being able to come to her rescue. Completely understandable. These are feelings every disabled man would struggle with, I imagine. I’m not upset that Madden’s character felt something so cliché, I’m disappointed she didn’t explore anything deeper or more specific to John as a disabled veteran and the hero of the novel.

And yet…I loved this book. I really can’t explain it. I don’t know if it was the characters or the plot or even the writing. Maybe I fell in love with John despite his merry-go-round character arc. Maybe it was Shannon’s snark and the way she looked past John’s wheelchair to the man. I felt like the sex was more graphic than it needed to be, but I really liked that John’s sexuality was addressed and explored.

I guess I can’t figure out whether to recommend this one or not. I enjoyed it, but I recognize it had some issues. So, I don’t know. Don’t ask me!

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Inspiration in Sneakers

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a response to a writing prompt, and since I’ve got a new one in my portfolio, I figured I’d share it with y’all. I met with my local writer’s group this week and we all wrote on the same subject: a picture of a man’s feet in seriously beat up sneakers. Honestly, I had a hard time with it. Didn’t find it as inspiring as I felt like I should have. But I pressed on and came out with something I actually kind of like. Not really sure where I was going with it, but the character seems really interesting.

I’m going to kill the next person who offers me a free meal. Just cause I like to breathe through my toes don’t give you the right to think I live in a cardboard box behind the dumpster on Sixth Street. If I could afford those fancy loafers imprisoning your tootsies, I’d rip the toes off those too. I’ve got to have room to wiggle, got to feel the breeze airing out the spaces between my piggies. Got to evict the fungus before I start charging it rent.

Like I’ve said before, I can be resentful of the challenges prompts present, but I usually get something out of them. I learn something. I like to think that stretching my brain around problems like this on a regular basis will serve me well the next time I’m staring at my screen suffering from writer’s block. If I can find words to write about old beat up shoes, a story that’s been haunting me for years shouldn’t be a problem, right?

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Best of the Year

Blank pageWow guys. I realized this week that this blog has been up for an entire year now. So I thought I should do something special to commemorate the occasion.

Welcome to the first annual Best of the Year Awards where I share with you my favorite posts from the past twelve months. First up…

Best Writing Post:

  • Runner up: What Now?  I still like to go back and read this one to remind myself why I write. It seems especially timely right now since there’s a couple rejections sitting in my inbox.
  • Favorite: Bow Chicka   I had so much fun writing this one. It may have been a bit of a rant but it’s not my fault when people say stupid things.

Best Review Post:miserere.finalcov.indd

  • Runner up: Frohock’s Mercy  Miserere was such an interesting book to review. Maybe because I felt like I learned more about the book while writing the post than I did the entire time I was reading it.
  • Favorite: Dodging Monsters with the Leandros Brothers  Nightlife is still one of my favorite books and I had a lot of fun writing the review. It was also my very first, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Best Character Post:

  • Runner up: Manic Mayhem with Miles  I always love reading about Miles and I’m not the only one. I thought it was fascinating to pick him apart as a character to figure out why he is so beloved.
  • Favorite: Never the Same  Gen has meant a lot to me in my journey as a writer as well as someone with a disability, and I really enjoyed sharing his story with y’all.

Best Disability Post:Jonas and I during training

  • Runner up: Who Let the Dogs Out? Come on. It’s about Jonas. Need I say more?
  • Favorite: Living Not Waiting  I realize that not everyone shares my coping techniques but this one is important to me. Finding others who felt the same was a blessing.

I started this blog not really knowing what to expect, but I’ve really enjoyed the process. I love writing about books and disability and I’ve really appreciated the challenge of posting weekly. Maybe one of these days I’ll step out of my comfort zone and post more than that.

These are just some of my favorite posts. What have you guys enjoyed?


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Star Trek Got It Right

Breaking News: The Cyborgs Snatched Another One

Seriously, maybe I should make a series out of this. At about the same time I posted Resistance is Futile, my husband sent me this article about a guy with what looks suspiciously like a Borg ocular implant. Built around the same concept as a hearing aid, it adds heat and distance perception to an eye that lacks most of its normal function. Kind of like the heads up display for pilots. And if that’s not cool enough, he designed and built it himself, teaching himself the electrical magic he needed to create something perfectly attuned to his needs.

The guy put some serious brain power into this project. If you click over to the original article you can see all his work and his thoughts on further uses for it. I love that he didn’t just stop with what worked for him. He extended it through its natural progression. He gave some thought to further applications for both the abled and the disabled.

No disrespect to the lady with the robot arm. That kind of therapy, dedication and determination are not easy. Believe me, I know. But there’s something powerful about being the patient, the bioengineer, and the manufacturer all rolled into one.

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