<![CDATA[Roxanne Smolen, author - Facts & Fiction]]>Sat, 28 Nov 2015 08:39:12 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[New Book! Werewolf Apocalypse]]>Mon, 26 Oct 2015 22:31:36 GMThttp://roxannesmolen.weebly.com/facts--fiction/new-book-werewolf-apocalypseWhat Kind of Trouble is Our Wolf Boy in Now?
Werewolf Apocalypse, Book 4 of The Amazing Wolf Boy is now available in print and eBook. The continuing story of Cody the Wolf Boy takes us from the Everglades in South Florida to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia where he fights to save a small town from the evil werewolf Bodark.
Cody Forester is an average sixteen-year-old boy. All he wants is to sleep late, listen to his tunes, and go out with his girlfriend, Brittany. However, he’s also a werewolf with burgeoning supernatural powers that make even other werewolves uneasy. To his dismay, he has been named pack leader of a misfit group of six werewolves, three witches, and a pair of Native American shamans who can turn into bears. 

His nemesis, Vilk Bodark, is a powerful werewolf with both hands in the crime underworld. When Bodark expands his territory into the Blue Ridge Mountains, taking over small towns along the way, Cody vows to stop him. 

But when Cody and his pack arrive at McCaysville, Georgia, they find a vast network of werewolves and enslaved thralls. His pack wants to flee, but headstrong Cody leads them deeper into danger. Will his rash decisions leave them enthralled to Bodark’s will? How can they survive a werewolf apocalypse? 

Werewolf Apocalypse is available at the Kindle Store for only 99 cents. Grab it now! The price will go up soon.
<![CDATA[Come On Down!]]>Thu, 29 Jan 2015 18:32:03 GMThttp://roxannesmolen.weebly.com/facts--fiction/come-on-down

2015 Literary Workshops

If you're in South Florida on March 5th and 6th, plan to stop by the 2015 Literary Workshops. There is a diverse collection of topics for writers this year.

Molly Tabachnikov will speak on Editing Poetry.
Laurianne Macdonald has The Power of Description in Writing Emotion
Alyssa Maxwell will teach us how to Create Suspense with Setting and Scenery
Leona Bodie will show us The Importance of Research and Being Historically Correct
Randy Rawls shows his hand in Mapping a Mystery
Gregg Brickman talks about Being Believable

And then there's me--I'll be speaking about Self-Publishing on Thursday, March 5th, at 11:30.

So come on down! I don't want to be the only one there. And remember--all the workshops are free!
<![CDATA[Formatting Your Novel for CreateSpace]]>Fri, 10 Oct 2014 19:16:47 GMThttp://roxannesmolen.weebly.com/facts--fiction/formatting-your-novel-for-createspace
How to Format Your Book for CreateSpace

I get a lot of formatting questions, so I thought I’d put it all down in one place. If you find it useful, let me know.

Note: I use Word 2010. Your version of Word might look a bit different, but it should be similar enough for you to figure out.

And now, without further ado, here is how I format a book for CreateSpace.

Ready, Set, Go

1.       Open your Word .doc

2.      Set the margins. Go to PAGE LAYOUT - MARGINS - CUSTOM MARGINS.

     a.      Under the Margin Tab, make the top 1″, the bottom 1″, the inside .9″, and the outside .6″.

     b.      Orientation should be Portrait.

     c.       Multiple Pages should be changed to Mirror Margins. That’s it for the Margin Tab. Don’t close the box yet.

3.      Then under the Paper Tab, change the Paper Size to the size of the book you are planning to publish. I like my books to be 8.5″ by 5″ so I change:

     a.      Width to 5″

     b.      Height to 8.5″. Then click OK to close the box.

4.      SELECT ALL (it’s over in the top right-hand corner.) Delete all tabs by using REPLACE (also in the top right-hand corner.)

     a.      Go to the Replace Tab

     b.      Click More

     c.       Click Special

     d.      Click Tab Character

     e.      Leave REPLACE WITH blank

     f.        Click REPLACE ALL

5.      SELECT ALL

     a.      Click the corner box next to Paragraph.

     b.      Under Indentation, go to SPECIAL

     c.       Select FIRST LINE

     d.      Under BY type .25

6.      SELECT ALL

     a.      Change line spacing to 1.5

     b.      Click both REMOVE SPACE BEFORE and REMOVE SPACE AFTER so both read ADD.

7.      SELECT ALL

     a.      Change your font and font size. I usually use Georgia 12pt.


     a.      Justify your margins. Yes! Don’t argue with me.

9.      SELECT ALL

     a.      Under PAGE LAYOUT, click Hyphenation and Automatic.

10.    SELECT ALL. Make sure you don’t have any double spaces after punctuation. (This is for all us older authors because we were taught that in high school.)

     a.      Go to the Replace Tab

     b.      Under FIND WHAT, hit the spacebar twice

     c.       Under REPLACE WITH, hit it once

     d.      Click REPLACE ALL

11.   Make sure the end of every chapter/short story has a new page character.

     a.      Go to PAGE LAYOUT - BREAKS

     b.      Under Section Breaks, click NEXT PAGE (One caveat to this is if you are publishing a book of short stories. You want each story to start on the right-hand side, right? Or some people want each chapter to start on the right. In that case you would click ODD PAGE.)

     c.       There should be no page numbers, headers, or footers on blank pages.

Front Matter Matters

In order:

1.       TITLE PAGE

     a.      Use a larger font and make it bold.

     b.      Type your book title about halfway down the page.

     c.       Type your name at the bottom. (This should give you plenty of room to sign at book signings.)

     d.      End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT - BREAKS - NEXT PAGE)


     a.      Type in your Copyright Notice.

    b.   Example: This is a work of fiction. The characters and events described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places or to living persons alive or dead. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods without the prior written permission of the publisher except for brief quotations embodied in critical reviews.

     c.       Copyright © (date) by (your name)

     d.      ISBN (Type in the number provided by CreateSpace.)

     e.      You can also add your publishers name, state, website, and logo if you have started your own company.

     f.        End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT - BREAKS - NEXT PAGE)


     a.      This is optional. If you are dedicating your book to a loved one or an organization, type it here.

     b.      End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT - BREAKS - NEXT PAGE)


     a.      You should have a table of contents to list each chapter or short story.

     b.      Go to REFERENCE and click Table of Contents.

     c.       End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT - BREAKS - NEXT PAGE)

5.      NOTES

     a.     If necessary, add a blank page at this point (PAGE LAYOUT - BREAKS - NEXT PAGE) so that the first page of your story starts on the right-hand side.

     b.    There should be no page numbers, headers, or footers on the FRONT MATTER (or the back matter either for that matter.)

Back Matter Matters Too

1.       Add a page for Your Author’s Bio, headshot (I mean a photo, not an actual… although if you’re writing horror and you’re good with make-up…) website, and email address.

     a.      End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT - BREAKS - NEXT PAGE)

2.      Add another page for a list of your previous works and where to buy them.

     a.      End the page. (PAGE LAYOUT - BREAKS - NEXT PAGE)

3.      If you are writing a series, you can put an excerpt of an upcoming book here.

4.      Remember, there should be no page numbers, headers, or footers on the front or back matter unless you want to use Roman Numerals.

About Your Headers and Footers

1.       Go to the first page of your story. (Story, not Front Matter.)

     a.      Click INSERT.

     b.      Click HEADER.

     c.       Choose your Header Style. (I usually use Blank.)

     d.      Type the name of your book. (I recommend using a smaller font.)

     e.      Highlight what you just typed and Right align it. (On the Home Tab.)

     f.        Under HEADER & FOOTER Tools click ODD & EVEN PAGES.

     g.      Make sure LINK TO PREVIOUS is not selected.

2.      Now go to the second page of your story.

     a.      Click the Header and type your name.

     b.      Highlight what you typed and Left align it.

3.      You should now have your Title on the right and your Name on the left.

     a.      Check to be sure the header hasn’t shown up on your Front Matter.

     b.      If it has, delete it and de-select LINK TO PREVIOUS on each page.

4.      Go back to the first page of your story.

     a.      On the left-hand side of the HEADER & FOOTER TOOLBAR, you will see Page Number. Click it.

     b.      Choose Bottom Of The Page.

     c.       Choose your style. I use Plain Number 2.

5.     NOTES

     a.    You will have to do this twice—once for the right-hand (odd) side and once for the left-hand (even) side.

     b.   You may have to format the page numbers to get them to run consecutively. To do that, click Page Number again and scroll down to Format Page Number.

     c.   Some people like to put the chapter title in the header instead of their name. No problem. By doing PAGE LAYOUT - BREAKS - NEXT PAGE you are breaking your chapters into sections. You can type the chapter name in the header at the beginning of each chapter and it will show on that section only. Just be sure you have Link to Previous grayed out.

Kill the Widows and Orphans

  • A paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page/column, thus separated from the rest of the text.
  • A paragraph-opening line that appears by itself at the bottom of a page/column.
  • A word, part of a word, or very short line that appears by itself at the end of a paragraph. Orphans result in too much white space between paragraphs or at the bottom of a page.
Word kills your widows and orphans by default, but the result makes a ragged bottom margin. I’m one of those persnickety people who feel that when you open a book, the bottom margin on both pages should match up. So I kill them manually.

1.       Click the corner box of PARAGRAPH.

2.      Click the LINE AND PAGE BREAKS Tab.

3.      Uncheck Widow/Orphan Control.

4.      Go through each page of your 500 page book and look for Widows and Orphans, adding or deleting words until the page looks right.

Easy Peasy

When all looks good, you need to save the book as a PDF. Word can do this for you. FILE - SAVE AS - PDF Now you are ready to upload the .pdf to CreateSpace.

See? It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3… 4, 5, 6… Oh, you get the picture.

<![CDATA[About Your Writer's Block]]>Sun, 31 Aug 2014 02:46:58 GMThttp://roxannesmolen.weebly.com/facts--fiction/about-your-writers-blockPicture
Writing Advice from Authors to Authors is a series of books (four so far) with essays written by writers about writerly things. The advice given is as varied as the authors who wrote it. I was honored to be asked to contribute.

So without further ado, here is an excerpt of About Your Writer's Block, my portion of the book.

4 Unusual Ways to Thwart Writer’s Block

By Roxanne Smolen

Writer’s Block is the debilitating fear of the first line. It can occur before you even begin a new project. But as writers we are often exhilarated by our ideas and start writing with ease. More often, writer’s block hits with the first line of the dreaded middle after our enthusiasm has faded.

That’s when self-doubt raises its curly head. I’m no good. My ideas are no good. What am I doing here anyway?

The enemy of creativity is self-doubt. You need to re-ignite your belief in yourself and excitement for your project. How do you do that?


Never give up. Never say I can’t. Take a few moments off to completely relax. Try adopting a positive mantra. Something like I always write quickly or Writing is easy. Say it over and over until it becomes ingrained. Soon you’ll be writing with a new attitude.

Talk to Your Dog

Don’t laugh! Verbalizing your ideas will set them in your mind. By telling your story to your dog, you will hear how exciting it sounds. Most dogs will listen attentively. Never try this with a cat.

Turn Off Your Computer Screen

Perfectionism keeps writers from finishing a first draft more often than death. You need to silence your internal editor. Turn off your computer screen (or throw a shirt over it if you write on a laptop) so you can’t see what you write and can’t self-edit. Just start typing. Try to keep your fingers moving for an hour and see what happens.

Change Your Passwords

Set up your computer so that you need a password to wake it up. Change your passwords on your social networks, your email, and your bank accounts. And make sure your computer doesn’t remember them so that you have to type them in each time. Make your passwords something like actuallyIcan or writerswrite. This tip also works for things like losing weight (iamnothungry) or quitting smoking (nosmoke4me.) By repeating the password phrase countless times over the course of a day, you teach your subconscious something new.

Writing is a solitary endeavor, and it doesn’t always provide the positive reinforcement we all need. If you can find that reinforcement within yourself, you can beat writer’s block. I know you have it in you.

<![CDATA[About Your Book Title]]>Sat, 26 Jul 2014 11:18:59 GMThttp://roxannesmolen.weebly.com/facts--fiction/about-your-book-titlePicture
I was honored to be included in this book of writer’s tips written by authors. About Your Book Title addresses the issues all writers face when naming the thing they hold most dear — their book. The advice within is as varied as the authors who wrote it and applies not only to novels but to blog posts and non-fiction books as well. Here is an excerpt:

Where’d You Get That Title?

by Roxanne Smolen

Titles are what make a reader pick up your book. But that’s what the cover graphics are for, you say? True. But what if the reader doesn’t have access to the book cover? What if all they have is a list? In that case, the title must be descriptive enough to let the potential reader know what it’s generally about. And it must be eye-catching enough to draw their attention in the first place.

Take my latest book, Wolfsbane Brew, for instance. I initially titled it The Witch from Blue Ridge. I thought that had a nice ring. But it was misleading. The book isn’t about a witch. Certainly, the witch from Blue Ridge is one of the characters. But the book is about a werewolf. It needed wolf in the title. I chose Wolfsbane Brew, a play on witches brew, trying to give the impression that there are both witches and werewolves involved. Now the person who can’t see the wolf on the book’s cover will still have an idea of what the book is about.

It’s important to keep genre in mind when you title your book. If you write romance, consider using words like love or kiss. A mystery might use words like clue or murder. If your book is about vampires, consider blood or fang. In the case of a werewolf book, wolf or pack are good choices.

My family members, friends, and acquaintances know the titles of my books and can go right to them on Amazon. But imagine a potential reader who doesn’t know me and never heard of my books. Imagine they are werewolf fans and that they simply type werewolf or wolf into Amazon’s search engine when they look for a good read. Because my books have wolf in both the title and the keywords, my books have a better chance of reaching that reader.

Pick up About Your Book Title to see what the other authors have to say. Available for your Kindle.

<![CDATA[New Release - Wolfsbane Brew]]>Thu, 24 Jul 2014 18:27:23 GMThttp://roxannesmolen.weebly.com/facts--fiction/new-release-wolfsbane-brewPicture
Cody Forester is a sixteen-year-old werewolf. He only found out six months ago, and already he is showing powers that Uncle Bob, his mentor, cannot match. His closest friends begin to think he is dangerous. Even Brittany, the girl he loves, says he is scary. Cody learns to keep his new abilities under wraps. Until another super-werewolf comes to South Florida. 

Vilk Bodark owns Georgia. He has a hand in a variety of illegal ventures: loan sharking, money laundering, gambling. He has police chiefs, judges, and even sorcerers in his employ. He conscripts werewolves by force—join or die. He wants to expand his operations to Florida—and he decides Brittany, a fledgling witch, would make a fine addition to his staff. 

Cody can’t defeat Bodark in a straight-up fight. He must take his new powers in a different direction—in ways that scare even him. If he doesn’t succeed, Brittany will be lost forever. Will his hidden superpowers be enough to save her?

WOLFSBANE BREW is the third book of my Wolf Boy series, but don't let that keep you from buying it. Each book can be enjoyed separately. The book is getting good reviews on Goodreads. It is said that the series just keeps getting better.

I hope I can continue to wow the readers with book four. 

<![CDATA[Wolfsbane Brew - Book Giveaway]]>Thu, 26 Jun 2014 03:29:33 GMThttp://roxannesmolen.weebly.com/facts--fiction/wolfsbane-brew-book-giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Wolfsbane Brew by Roxanne Smolen

Wolfsbane Brew

by Roxanne Smolen

Giveaway ends July 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win
Be the first to read Wolfsbane Brew. It's book three of The Amazing Wolf Boy series. But don't let that stop you. Each book stands alone--you don't need to read the previous two to enjoy book three.

In Wolfsbane Brew, Cody Forester is a sixteen-year-old werewolf. He only found out six months ago, and already he is showing powers that Uncle Bob, his mentor, cannot match. His closest friends begin to think he is dangerous. Even Brittany, the girl he loves, says he is scary. Cody learns to keep his new abilities under wraps. Until another super-werewolf comes to South Florida. 

Vilk Bodark owns Georgia. He has a hand in a variety of illegal ventures: loan sharking, money laundering, gambling. He has police chiefs, judges, and even sorcerers in his employ. He conscripts werewolves by force—join or die. He wants to expand his operations to Florida—and he decides Brittany, a fledgling witch, would make a fine addition to his staff. 

Cody can’t defeat Bodark in a straight-up fight. He must take his new powers in a different direction—in ways that scare even him. If he doesn’t succeed, Brittany will be lost forever. Will his hidden superpowers be enough to save her?

Wolfsbane Brew will have you laughing, groaning, and cheering. Edge-of-your-seat fun! Sign up to win today! Good luck!
<![CDATA[Steamy Windows]]>Mon, 24 Dec 2012 00:08:11 GMThttp://roxannesmolen.weebly.com/facts--fiction/steamy-windowsChristmas is about family, gratitude, and giving. It's also about cookies. As a child, I would come home from school on a snowy day to a house full of sweet and spicy smells. I remember my mother's infinite patience as I drew smiles and scarfs on the snowmen with icing. Some of my favorite memories of my mom involve her cookies.

When I had children of my own, I wanted to share those memories with them. Every Christmas, I went overboard. I'd bake countless varieties of cookies. The windows would steam, and the house would fill with the wonderful smell of gingerbread. My kids would come home, wet and tired from snowball fights, to find a cup of hot chocolate and a warm cookie waiting for them.

The little crumbs don't remember any of that.

But I still like to bake. The problem blind people have with baking is measuring the ingredients. I use individual measuring cups--1/4 cup, 1/2 cup, 1 cup. That way I can feel if the cup is filled to the rim. There are many such measuring cups on the market. I use a set from Maxi Aids

Whenever possible, however, I use pre-measured ingredients. For example, here is my recipe for:

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

1 can of pumpkin
1 box spice cake

Mix everything in a bowl (use a big bowl to give yourself some room) then drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Try to get the cookies all the same size--that's the hardest part. Then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for ten minutes.

Perfect for the holidays. You also might want to try my:

Cranberry Nut Cookies

1 egg
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of dried cranberries
1 cup of crunchy peanut butter

Crack the egg into a big bowl. Again, use a big bowl so you have room to work. Stir the egg a little with a fork. Measure 1 cup of sugar in your 1 cup measuring cup and dump it on the egg. Stir it a little. Using the same cup, add a cup of dried cranberries. Alternately, you can buy the cranberries in snack packs and use two or three packs. Then measure one cup of crunchy peanut butter--keep packing it in until it reaches the top. Add it to the ingredients in the bowl and combine by hand until it feels pretty well incorporated. Then drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet, trying to keep each cookie the same size. Sometimes it helps to roll them in balls. Bake for 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.

I hope your Christmas is as sweet as your childhood memories. And may all your windows be steamy.
<![CDATA[Getting Caned]]>Mon, 06 Feb 2012 13:30:34 GMThttp://roxannesmolen.weebly.com/facts--fiction/getting-canedBack in the day, all us kids were taught about white canes in school. On White Cane Safety Day, we wore white cane lapel pins given to us by the Lions Clubs to show solidarity. They don't seem to make such a big deal about it anymore; at least, not where I live.

As a result, not as many people understand what a white cane means. You'd be surprised at how many people ask me for directions as I stand with my white cane trying to hear if the traffic has cleared. Some people become indignant if I clip their ankle as I pass, or hysterical if I touch the wheel of their baby carriage.

Others don't want me in public at all. I remember strolling through my local shopping mall with a woman walking ahead of me yelling, "Look out! There's a blind lady coming. You never know what she'll do with her stick."

Yet I persevere. My white cane has become an extension of my hand, feeling the path before me so I know what to expect. There are different methods for using a cane. If I have somebody's arm to hold, I just carry the cane as a sort of notification that I am sight impaired. If I expect a long day, I attach a ball tip to the end of my cane and swish it ahead as I walk.

Normally, I'm a tapper. I tap my cane from side to side about a shoulder length apart. That way I can hear the difference between sidewalk and grass, tile floor and wooden stairs. It keeps me on the straight and narrow. But I've found that tapping rhythmically sounds like a woman in high heels to the people ahead. They don't realize I'm coming up on them. So I've added a third tap, making me sound like a woman in high heels who is tripping. That gets their attention so they can move out of my way.

At night, it is even more important that people see me coming. The cane flash light attaches to my cane and blinks red as my cane taps the ground. That way I can walk around without risk of bumping into anyone.

If you're new to vision loss and don't know where to get started, I suggest you contact your local Lighthouse of the Blind. They will give you your first cane and tell you where to buy more. I buy mine online. Just search for blind canes; there are many sites that carry them. Two of my favorites are MaxiAids and ILA.

There are many different types of canes to fit tastes or circumstances. Some are rigid, some fold or telescope outward. Some have the aforementioned balls at the end, and some have a shoehorn shaped tip to make it easier to walk at the beach.

Believe it or not, some white canes glow in the dark. I enjoy nighttime activities, so these are a good match for me. Several companies make such canes, but the best I've found is by Reizen. These canes absorb the sunlight during the day and glow bright green for hours into the night. They definitely attract attention. At times, I've heard kids cry out, "Wow, that is so cool. I want one of those." I want to tell them they really don't.

October 15 is National White Cane Safety Day. Please observe this tradition by explaining to your children what a white cane is all about.]]>
<![CDATA[What is Disabled?]]>Sat, 24 Sep 2011 13:27:51 GMThttp://roxannesmolen.weebly.com/facts--fiction/first-post        What is disabled?  What is it like to be a disabled person?  I used to ask myself that question daily, run scenarios through my mind as I fell asleep at night.  Disabled meant unable.  Disability was inability.  Was that how I would spend my life—unable to fend for myself?

        About thirteen years ago, I was diagnosed with Pigmentary Glaucoma.  Traditional treatments for glaucoma didn't work on me, and my eyesight deteriorated rapidly.  Desperate and despondent, I went from specialist to specialist, none of whom could help.  It wasn't until I received the additional diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa that they got a handle on my case.

        During that period, sitting in countless waiting rooms, I had the opportunity to meet many sight-impaired and blind people.  Some were good humored.  Some were bitter.  All were completely dependant on a companion seated next to them.  They'd tell me how frustrated they were at not being able to drive or cook or play cards.  Things they once enjoyed doing—everyday things like reading or gardening—were no longer possible.  They spent their days waiting in darkness until someone had time to take care of them.

        I'd go home in tears.  I wasn't ready for my life to be over.  There were still things I'd planned to do.  I had wanted to grow a bonsai garden, always wanted to write a book.  I didn't want to be disabled.  But the doctors gave me no hope.

        Friends began to shy away—I couldn't participate, couldn't do the things I used to do with them.  My family felt sorry for me.  My husband began doing more and more around the house until when I was forced to quit my job, I had nothing left to do.  At first, I cried a lot.  I felt like I was mourning my own death.  After a while, I settled down and just sat waiting for someone to take care of me.

        It was around then that my husband heard about the program at the Broward Lighthouse.  He mentioned it to me every few days.  I was offended and defiant.  Hadn't I sat through enough waiting room conversations with blind people?  I didn't want anyone to think I was one of them.  Anger turned to dismay, and then to fear.  If the Lighthouse asked me to do something I couldn't do, I would be admitting I was disabled.  In a moment of weakness, I agreed to an exploratory visit.

        I was greeted by Fred, a blind man who never once bemoaned debility, and given a tour of the building.  After that, I was interviewed by Eunice.  She asked me a question I wasn't expecting—what did I want to do with the rest of my life?  I was surprised even more by my answer—I wanted to write novels.  I hadn't realized I still harbored that dream.  Eunice merely smiled and said she would keep that in mind when she set up my curriculum.  I was in the program.

        It was grueling—both emotionally and physically.  I had done nothing for so long, it was hard to suddenly do something three times a week.  I learned nifty little tricks, such as wearing an apron with pockets so I always had a phone, a flashlight, and a timer with me.  But each day, I'd go home exhausted, threatening never to go back.  And each time, my husband would encourage me to try just one more day.

        Then I had an epiphany.  True to her promise of tailoring my curriculum, Eunice had enrolled me in computer class so I could learn how to write my books.  My teacher, Connie, asked what programs I wanted to learn, and I told her I was planning to use Dragon Naturally Speaking, a voice recognition program, so I could speak into the computer instead of type.

        She said, "Why?  You aren't disabled.  You can still use your hands."

        My mouth fell open.  Not disabled?  I was blind.  How could I not be disabled?

        The rest of that day, I studied my other instructors.  Did they also think I wasn't disabled?  Sure enough, Pat was encouraging me to cook my own Thanksgiving dinner, and Nicole was telling me to take my white cane to the shopping mall and do some early Christmas shopping.  Did they really think I could do these things?

        I looked around at my fellow students.  A few were still locked in "I can't do that" mode, but many seemed transformed.  They were more talkative, more vibrant, laughing about how they'd tried this tip or that tip at home.  And I could tell which of them were disabled and which were not.

        That was my epiphany.  It is not blindness that disables us—it is the belief that we are disabled.  And it is belief that makes us enabled.  That night, I sat at my computer and began writing my first novel.  It isn't easy, but I'm up to the challenge.