Memoir Delivers Powerful Life Messages #Friday Fun Reads

Stand Up or Sit Out: Memories and Musings of a Blind Wrestler, Runner and All-around Regular Guy

by Anthony R. Candela

Copyright 2020

What Amazon Says

In this memoir, Anthony Candela, a self-described “all-around regular guy,” traverses a lifetime of challenges. Some of these are accidents of birth, like his poor eyesight and slow trek to blindness, and some are of his own making, like choosing to compete as a scholar-athlete. Infused with lots of New Yorkana, a touch of California, and a few related historical references, this memoir conveys that in any environment, life does not always follow a prescribed course. Moreover, as humans, all of us are imperfect. This includes people with disabilities who are often thought of as transcendent beings, but who should also be regarded as “all-around regular guys.” Just like the rest of the human race, they often strive imperfectly to get through life.

In his descriptions, the author hopes that readers will understand a little more about the nuts and bolts of running and wrestling, not to mention skiing and scuba diving. The ups and downs of coping with life and progressive loss of eyesight and, by extraction, disability in general will be clearer. Readers will come away with a fuller appreciation of the ways people deal with challenges. In the end, we all have a choice whether to stand up or sit out.

The story related in these pages will occasionally give you cause to chuckle or even shed tears of sadness or joy. Above all else, it will enlighten you about why things happen the way they do. Ultimately, this memoir increases our understanding of what it means to be truly human. Perhaps after reading it, we will be kinder and gentler to each other. Most important, perhaps we will take it a little easier on ourselves.

 

My Thoughts

 

I took an interest in this book when the author was a guest speaker at a recent meeting of Behind Our Eyes, a group of disabled writers to which I belong. My late husband Bill was on the Colorado State School for the Deaf and Blind’s wrestling team in the 1950’s. So, naturally, I found Mr. Candela’s experiences with the sport fascinating. I also enjoyed reading about his adventures in running, cycling, and other sports as well as his academic and social life. I appreciated his insights on human relations and disabilities. Anyone who reads this book, able-bodied or not, will learn from his discoveries.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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A Conversation with Greg #Wednesday Words

I recently sat down with Greg, the husband of my main character, Eve, in The Red Dress. Here’s what he had to say.

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Me: Greg, I’m so glad you could take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to talk to me.

Greg: It’s my pleasure. What would you like to know about me?

Me: Well, let’s start with your name. I know everybody calls you Greg or Dad, but what’s on your birth certificate?

Greg: My full name is Gregory Lee Sawyer. My paternal grandfather’s name was Lee. So, that’s where I got my middle name.

Me: Are you an only child?

Greg: No. I have a sister, Polly. She’s blind.

Me: Wait a minute. You have a son named Tom Sawyer. So, he has an Aunt Polly just like the character in the Mark Twain classic?

Greg: (chuckles) Yes. Polly was actually named after my maternal grandmother.

Me: So, Polly’s blind. Apparently, this wasn’t a hereditary thing because you don’t have a visual impairment. Yet, you teach at a school for the blind.

Greg: You’re right. I’m fully sighted. Polly is my older sister. She was born blind, but it’s not a hereditary condition. I think my parents were relieved when I was born with better eyes. Because Polly had some bad teachers at the school for the blind in California where my family lives, I decided I wanted to be a better teacher to children in such schools. When I graduated from college and became certified, there wasn’t an opening in California, but I found one at the school in Colorado Springs. So, I moved there.

Me: Polly’s still in California?

Greg: Yes. She programs computers, and before you ask, she doesn’t live in a house with a fence. So, she has never made her nephew Tom whitewash that fence. She lives in an apartment.

Me: That’s good to know. Did you like school when you were growing up?

Greg: Absolutely! My favorite subjects were English and literature. That’s what I teach at the Colorado State School for the Deaf & Blind.

Me: Do you like teaching there?

Greg: Oh yes! I teach at the junior and senior high level. Since classes are smaller than they are in public schools, I can give the kids more individual attention. I love engaging them in lively discussions of the books we’re reading, and they seem to enjoy doing the projects I assign.

Me: Projects? Like what?

Greg: Well, when we read Tom Sawyer, I had them research and write about what life was like back in those days, compared to now.

Me: How interesting. What’s your greatest fear?

Greg: I’m afraid I’ll lose Eve, the love of my life. I thought I would lose her that summer we got into an argument over a red dress. But when I saw her in it… Oh shoot, look at the time. I’ve got to run.

Me: Well, thank you Greg. Good luck to you.

***

So, how did Greg and Eve get into an argument over a red dress? You’ll just have to read the book and find out.

Thanks to D.E. Haggerty for inspiring this. You can read her character interview here.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy, and may you always have positive experiences.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Poems Shed Light on Life #Thursday Book Feature

Neoteny: Poems

by Emily K. Michael

Copyright 2019.

 

What Amazon Says

 

A lively and imaginative debut, Neoteny explores blindness, family, and birdsong. In these poems, Emily K. Michael meditates on literary and personal heroes like Jo March, her beloved grandmother, and her guide dog. This collection is rich with treasures from childhood — the honey-colored piano Michael played, the fig tree in her front yard and the trays of fresh mint drying on her grandmother’s table. The poems move between a child mind and an adult’s perspective as Michael contemplates the rich emotional power of commonplace objects and the way her own blindness complicates everyday situations. Poems like “In This One” and “I Say Yes” take the reader into the domestic moments of young romance while “Deficiencies,” and “Wood Thrush” invite readers to disappear in wonder for the wild world.

A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Michael weaves local sounds and spaces into her work. “Anniversary in St. Augustine” is the story of a couple’s private tour of historical landmarks, while “Ajeen” captures the quiet of a deserted street deep in hurricane season. “Trading Threes” and “Encore” welcomes local birds onto the page as Michael immortalizes the sounds of mockingbirds and cardinals.

Though Neoteny is an uplifting collection, Michael confesses the difficulties she experiences as a blind poet in a sighted world. In “Small Hours,” she asks readers to wonder just how important their vision really is, and in “Blindness Locked Me Out,” she catalogues the situations where her disability relegated her to the sidelines. “Natural Compliance” maps the challenge of exploring the wilderness with a white cane and wheelchair. And “A Phenomenology of Blindness” is Michael’s resounding answer to the common questions about how blindness works. To those who think Michael is seeking a cure, she offers “Faith,” a poem that examines how healing really works.

Neoteny also pays tribute to the poets Michael loves. “Practice” is Michael’s nod to CD Wright’s “Lake Echo, Dear” and “Antiphon for Emily” is her song for Emily Dickinson. Neoteny opens on “I Begin to Understand Jo March,” a finalist for the 2018 Atlantis Award. The final poem is “Cello,” first published in Artemis Journal and later included in Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital’s Poems in the Waiting Room. Poems from this collection have also appeared in Wordgathering, Nine Mile Magazine, The Fem, Saw Palm, The Deaf Poets Society, Rogue Agent, and The South Carolina Review.

 

My Thoughts

 

I don’t recommend starting this collection on an empty stomach. The author’s descriptions of delectable delights in “Ajeen” and other poems about food at the beginning will make your mouth water, and you’ll abandon any plans to enjoy some poetry before lunch. But if you download the Audible version, you can eat and read poetry simultaneously if you wish.

I love the way Emily Michael narrates her own poetry here. The piano interlude at the end gives the production a nice touch. I could identify with “Blindness Locked Me Out” and her poems about playing music and attending concerts. I also appreciate how she tells us what being blind is not. This collection isn’t just about blindness. Even if you are experiencing vision loss, it will enlighten you on a variety of topics.

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By the way, from now until July 31st, you can download My Ideal Partner and The Red Dress absolutely free from Smashwords as part of its annual summer/winter sale. Click here to visit my Smashwords author page.

Also, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. Thank you for reading. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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A Heartfelt Review #Thursday Book Feature

Today, instead of reviewing someone else’s book, I’m presenting a review of my latest, The Red Dress, by someone else. My friend Ann Parsons is the author of The Demmies, a book I reviewed here when it came out a few years ago. Now, here’s Ann’s review of The Red Dress.

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It is with extreme pleasure that I am reviewing The Red Dress by Abbie Johnson Taylor! This book is classified as  “Human Relations” by NLS. (National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled) It is the story of a woman, her family and a red dress. The character development is stellar! The plot is intriguing, and the writing is Abbie’s usual simple and straight forward story telling.

I am truly delighted to report that this book is now available through NLS on BARD. (Braille and Audio Reading Download) As you might have guessed, this book is one that is close to my heart because I know Abbie. She belongs to my writing group. I watched this book come into being, and it was a wonderful process! I, and my fellow group members, were able to see writing as it is made, from inspiration through perspiration to the final product. It is my joy to recommend this book to you all, not only because it is an excellent read, but because it is the brain child of a good friend of mine. I hope you will all enjoy reading this book.

It is thought provoking because it explores the human character. How and why do we react in the ways that we do to events in our lives? What motivates us toward forgiveness and redemption? And finally, what makes a darned good read?

Now, if I were a sighted reviewer, I would probably go on for paragraphs about how marvelous it is that Abbie has written a book since she “had to overcome blindness”, blah, blah, blah. I’m not going to be so ignorant and disrespectful! I am merely going to say that Abbie is following in the footsteps of a million bards who are and were blind. She can write and write well, not in spite of her disability, but because she’s a good writer! I only mention this because if you find reviews of her previous work, you may find some who miss the whole point, concentrating on the author’s physical characteristics rather than on the writing itself. Don’t do that! Read this book because it is well written, not because the author has a visual impairment.

Congratulations to Abbie Johnson Taylor for getting her book onto BARD! Just in case anyone wants to read this in Braille, it is available from Bookshare as well.  If you should decide you actually want to buy the thing, go to: https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com/ Isn’t it great to be able to support one of our own?

Ann P.

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Thanks to Ann for  such a glowing review. As always, thank you for reading.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

 

Through the Eyes of Love #Monday Musical Memories

As a teen-ager, when I saw the movie, Ice Castles, and read the book, I was fascinated by the story of a young figure skater who loses all her vision in an accident but returns to the ice. What blew me away was this girl was the same age as me at the time, sixteen, when she started training.

I couldn’t roller skate without holding onto somebody because I was terrified of falling. I’d tried downhill skiing and landed flat on my back. So, I wasn’t about to start ice skating lessons, and I don’t think this had anything to do with my own visual impairment. But it didn’t stop me from enjoying this compelling tale of achieving one’s dream, losing it, then getting back in the game.

In 2005, a month after my late husband Bill, living in Fowler, Colorado, while I was here in Sheridan, Wyoming, proposed to me, this movie’s theme was on a cassette of love songs he sent me for Valentine’s Day. He didn’t know about the impact the book and movie had on me, but I’m pretty sure I told him. The song developed a new significance for me. I’ve always found it amazing that although Bill had no vision, he saw me through the eyes of love.

 

 

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

My Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.