Lois Strachan – Author

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Makhanda: And what About the Books?

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I was preparing for our first Blind Date Show when my phone pinged to let me know I had a voice message. It was from Paul, a Capetonian colleague, who told me he’d just seen my books in an art exhibition in Makhanda.

And yes, while all the excitement of the Blind Date Concert was happening, my books weren’t forgotten. They were having an adventure of their own!

I’ve mentioned before that the Blind Date Show was part of the 100th year celebration of the SA Library for the Blind. Apart from the show, they also decided to put on an exhibition of creative art works created by blind and visually impaired artists from South Africa. And I was honoured to have been asked to allow my books to be part of that exhibition.

Here’s a photo of the exhibit where my books were displayed – both A Different Way of Seeing and The Adventures of Missy Mouse.

With thanks to Craig Strachan for the photograph, and to Francois Hendrikz of SA Library for the Blind and Catherine Baron, of Inkanyezi Events, for inviting me to be part of both the show and the exhibition.
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At Long Last!

There have been times that it’s felt like the never-ending story, but I’ve finally finished the first draft of the update to my book, A Different Way of Seeing. In fact, I’ve even spell checked it.

So, what’s the next step towards getting it released as an audio book, you may ask?

Finishing the first draft may sound like a huge milestone, but the truth is that I still have quite a way to travel with this project.

After all, I haven’t even read the entire manuscript myself and know I’ll make considerable changes before I’m even vaguely happy with it. Then I want to get input from a few people, both those who have already read A Different Way of Seeing, and those who have not. And update the manuscript according to the feedback I receive from them. And only then will I take it to a professional editor.

Only then can I start the process of getting it converted into an audio format. Like I said, there’s still lots of work to be done. But at least I’ve completed this step…

For those of you who’ve been waiting for me to share some of my experiences at the National Arts Festival in Makhanda, I’ll be getting there soon, I promise…

It’s about Time I Updated You

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It’s an embarrassingly long time since I updated you on my project to convert my memoir, A Different Way of Seeing, into an audio book. Which isn’t to say there’s nothing to report. It’s just that I haven’t got around to blogging about it.

Till now.

Admittedly, when I started the project in December 2018 I expected it to be a quick task. But, what with one thing and another, I’m still working on it.

When I went to India, I found time to make notes on what needed to be updated. I honestly expected to have a page or so on each chapter. To my surprise, my notes were 22 pages!

Right now I’m creating the first draft of the content for the update. I’ve completed 8 chapters so far, with 3 to go. And I’m on about 25 000 words.

Once I’ve finished the first draft, I’ll do an initial edit myself and then pass it on to a professional editor for them to do their magic.

And then I’ll start looking at the recording of the updated manuscript – both the original content from A Different Way of Seeing, and the updates, which I’ve taken to calling Filling in the Blind Spots.

I promise I’ll try to be better about letting you know how the project’s coming along…

Smile FM Interview

Let’s take a short break from the heat of Kolkata and return briefly to Cape Town…

Here’s a recent interview I did with Andre du Toit, the Big Positive Guy on Smile FM. The interview was broadcast on the Honest Truth Show with Benito Vergotine shortly before I left for India.

Hope you enjoy it.

Next time we’ll be returning to India for a cricket match… or maybe a rock concert. You’ll have to join us next time to find out which it was.

I Know This Too Shall Pass…

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A few days ago I got a message from a friend who was concerned that she hadn’t seen any blog posts from me for a while. And it’s true – I haven’t blogged for the past two weeks. It’s not that there’s been nothing going on. Actually, I’ve been crazy busy with some exciting stuff. Rather I’ve been in a bit of a funk and haven’t been able to pull together the energy to write.

Sometimes life’s just like that.

Even now, as I write this, I can feel the difference – usually I can sit down and share a story or an experience with you and the words just flow from my fingers as they dance across the keyboard of my laptop. But not today. Today my fingers are sluggish and I find I’m having to contemplate every word, every sentence I write.

Some years ago, when I was going through a really tough time, a friend of mine reassured me by saying, “This too shall pass.”! and indeed it did. As I know it will this time.

I guess you could argue that by explaining this I’m already moving beyond the funk that’s stopped me writing. And maybe you’re right. I hope you are!
But if I’m a little quieter than normal, please know that everything’s okay and I’m just taking some time out to re-gather my energy.

Free Tickets to the Women in Publishing Summit

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It was an extraordinary experience for me to be part of an international panel discussing empowering others through sharing your personal story for the Women in Publishing Online Summit taking place from 4 – 8 March. It was both a pleasure and a privilege to share with the other women authors I met on the panel and whose stories blew me away!

The Summit includes more than 70 women from all areas of the publishing industry – authors, editors, designers, publishers and marketers – sharing some of their best thoughts and ideas on creating and publishing a book. Whether you’re an aspiring author wanting to publish your first book or an experienced author wanting to learn more tricks of the trade, the WIP Summit is a great resource.

Here’s a link to get a free ticket to the event, which allows you to access the interviews for a few days from the start of the Summit: https://loisstrachan–writepublishsell.thrivecart.com/free–registration/

I registered for the WIP Summit last year and chose to upgrade to the All Access Pass (AAP) because I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch all the interviews and gain maximum value from what was being shared in the time the free ticket gave me access. It took me almost 9 months to work through them all. But that’s entirely up to you.

PS Yes, the link is an affiliate link – but I only get commission if you decide to upgrade to the AAP. Still I’d appreciate your using the link above if you want to attend so the organisers know I’m sharing the news of this great event.

The Women in Publishing Summit

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In March last year I signed up to listen to the inaugural Women in Publishing Summit. The summit was a week of interviews with women sharing their insights into different parts of the publishing world – authors of different genres, designers, marketers and publishers. It took me almost a year to listen to the full five-day summit, but it was worth every second
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When the call for speakers for the 2019 WIP Summit was published by the organizer, Alexa Bigwarfe, I thought of putting my name forward to share my experiences of using writing as a medium to raise awareness that disability does not mean inability. The more I thought about it, the more I felt drawn to the idea.

So I put a proposal to the organizing team and was over the moon with joy when I was selected to speak as a panelist on telling difficult stories and the importance of using your personal story to empower others.

The WIP Summit is an online summit that will be published in March 2019. If you’re involved in the publishing industry in any way, are thinking of writing a book to share your story with the world or would just like to learn from some inspiring women in the publishing industry, I’d recommend you sign up for the Summit.

In the meantime, you can find out more about what’s on offer on either the website or the Facebook page – here’s the links to both:

Website: https://womeninpublishingsummit.com/?ck_subscriber_id=185618006

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WomenInPublishing/

What Would You Like to Know about Blindness?

Here’s my first update on my plan to convert my book, “A Different Way of Seeing: A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an ‘Ordinary’ Life in an Extraordinary Way” into an audio book.

When I first reread the book, I got the feeling that there was quite a bit that I could update. That, of course, would be the deciding factor of whether or not to try and find a way to update the content given in the audio version. It didn’t make sense to me to figure out how to do it before working out if there was enough material to make an update worthwhile.

When I started listening to each chapter and jotting down ideas of what could be added, what had changed and what I can do now that I couldn’t when I wrote Different Way of Seeing I found I actually had a wealth of new information – from looking at how apps have solved some of the challenges in the kitchen, right the way through to sharing a little of the wonderous adventures I’ve had since meeting Fiji.

Yes, some chapters have more updates than others. Ultimately very little’s changed in how I select clothing and make-up, but I have lots of new stories to share with you so, even where little’s changed, there’s still lots to share that I hope will both entertain and inform you as you listen.

I’m still in the phase of figuring out what needs to go into the update. If you’d like to know how I accomplish any specific task… and I really do mean any task… I’d love to hear from you – I may not use your question in the update, and I may already have answered it in Different Way of Seeing, but I’ll still get back to you with a response of some form.

Looking forward to hearing your input…

Now You See It… Well, Not Actually

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As I do on occasion, I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook and happened on a post about a magic show. I don’t recall the exact words of one of the comments, but the sense behind it was very clearly based on an assumption that magic shows aren’t for those without sight.

I know there are many things in the world that are highly visual – after all, we live in a world that’s dominated by the sense of sight. And sure, there are lots of things that are hard for those of us who don’t have the option of seeing.
But that doesn’t mean that an activity is totally meaningless to us.

I replied to the comment saying that I’d enjoyed the magic shows I’d been to despite the fact I’m totally blind.

And that was how I came to write an article for Marcel Oudejans, of Magic.Africa, sharing how I experience magic shows without sight.

Hopefully that’s teased your curiosity enough to make you want to find out more. So, here’s the link to the article so all can be revealed: https://www.magic.africa/stories/now-you-see-it-now-you-dont-my-experience-of-magic-as-a-blind-person/

Just to be clear, Marcel wasn’t the one who posted the comment I responded to – he happened to read it and was curious to learn more.

I love having the opportunity of sharing a little of my experiences with others to help them understand how I do things without sight and hope I’ll be able to write more for other websites and publications in the future. Now, that would be magic!

Can You Help Me Take Accessible Travel into the Mainstream?

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As some of you know, I’m getting more and more involved in accessible travel, both through my writing and the Accessible South Africa Travel Podcast.

I’ve now written seven articles on travel as a blind tourist for the Blind Perspective e-newsletter. These articles are written for a visually impaired audience to inspire them to go out and see the beautiful and diverse world we live in. I also try to answer some of the questions and concerns that blind and visually impaired travelers may have. But, my point is, I’m writing for a visually impaired audience.

A few months ago I spoke to a sighted audience and shared a little about how I use my other senses to experience travel and places I’ve never been before. I was completely amazed at how many people came up and spoke to me afterwards saying how fascinated they were to hear what I had to tell them.

Which makes me wonder if other sighted people might also be interested.

So I’m asking for your help – I’d like to find out the names of magazines, newspapers, websites, blogs, podcasts, and any other publications that have articles about travel. Obviously, if you can give me contact details of who at the publication I should approach, that’d be great, but it’s not a necessity – I can do that myself.

Can you help me take accessible travel into the mainstream? I really hope you can!

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