Posts Tagged ‘college life’

Remember when I blogged about being on the autism spectrum back in late January? Well, that post got a lot of positive feedback, both on the blogospphere and on other social media, particularly Facebook. One of the people who responded well to the post was my college disabilities counselor, Enjie Hall, who I became Facebook friends with…I think after graduation? I can’t remember. It’s been a while. Anyway, she reached out to me after that post came out, and asked if I wouldn’t mind doing a short audio and/or video presentation for a much longer presentation she was doing at the university she works at now. The subject was “Living in and Past College with a Disability,” and since I’m doing so well in that subject, she’d thought I’d be a natural at it.

I agreed to the project, and produced a short YouTube video about my experiences. Okay, maybe “short” isn’t the best term: I was asked to do a five-minute video, and somehow I ended up making it thirteen minutes! But hey, can you really put down all that experience and advice into a five-minute video? I’m not so sure.

It only occurred to me after I made, edited, and uploaded the video that I realized I’d just done my first vlog! Yeah, a vlog. Blogs I’m used to. Vlogs are entirely something new to me. I don’t regularly watch them, unless they’re full of unconventional humor (holler at my boy Thomas Sanders!). But me vlog? I never thought that would be something I’d do. I mean, I’ve considered doing a video of me reading from selected sections of my books, but I’ve never actually done it. Not sure why, maybe just because I’ve only used YouTube a couple of times to make and post videos, and they haven’t exactly gotten a lot of views.

But I made a vlog, and it was actually very nice. And it made me feel good that I made it. I put a positive message into the video, and from what Enjie tells me (her presentation was this morning), the portion of the video she used was received very positively by the people at her presentation. Because of all that, I thought I’d share the video with you guys, and see if maybe you find it as uplifting as others found it at the presentation. Enjoy:

How was that? Do you have any thoughts on what I had to say? Let me know in the comments below.

And as for whether I’ll actually try to make more videos in the future…I don”t know. Anything’s possible. At least I know I can and they can turn out half-decent. We’ll see what the future holds.

Well, I got another post scheduled for Saturday, so keep an eye out for it, folks. Until next time, my Followers of Fear.

Back in late 2012, I published a post about a guy who asked me point blank if I was autistic. It was a pretty irking episode for me, and I stewed over it for about a week before I posted about it.

Now, I do have autism spectrum disorder (though at that time, my condition was called PDD-NOS, and was considered an autism-related disorder. A couple years back they put out a new diagnostic manual for this sort of thing, and now PDD-NOS and Asperger’s are just plain autism. At least now it’s easier to say and remember). I contended then and I contend now that while I am on the spectrum, it does not define me or is the most definitive trait about me. I don’t say, “I’m on the spectrum, so I can’t do this or that.” Nor do I use it as an excuse to do things I know I shouldn’t. It’s just one facet in the many that make up my life.

But, as I grow older, I see more and more how my autism has affected my life, especially since graduating high school.

I honestly didn’t know I was even on the spectrum until I was in my late teens. Though honestly, spectrum is not the best term for autism. A spectrum makes you think of a long bar where whatever the bar signifies becomes more intense as you move further along it. Really, autism is a group of characteristics that present themselves in affected individuals, and differs from person to person. Perhaps a better name would be autism characteristics disorder, but I’m not on the board of whatever organization names these things. At any rate, I apparently displayed a lot of characteristics that typify autism from day one, according to my mother (and she’s pretty reliable on this kind of stuff). Of course, she and my dad didn’t realize what the problem was until I was in preschool or so. Up until that time, they just thought the stuff in the baby manuals didn’t apply for every baby. It wasn’t until a teacher told the I was having a hard time understanding what was being said to me that they realized I might be a bit more different than they imagined.

Thus started years of therapy, which I didn’t realize the purpose of until much later in life. I knew I was receiving one-on-one attention, and that I was the only person I knew doing so. I knew I had doctor’s appointments that other kids didn’t go to. I just didn’t question it or think about it too hard. It was part of life, like watching TV or sitting on the toilet. You can think about them pretty hard, but it’s not necessary.

I also didn’t think much about the repetitive behaviors I sometimes displayed, or how when certain things changed in my environment, it could upset me and totally ruin my day. And while I got along well with people, there were times where I would do something, someone would react badly, and I wouldn’t understand the big deal.

Understand, I’m high-functioning. I can get by in society pretty decently. I just see and interact with the world a bit differently. It’s like rearranging a puzzle piece to form a new picture, with the pieces being able to fit where they’re not supposed to go, and I don’t see the difference between the intended arrangement and my arrangement. And that’s probably why I didn’t realize until my late teens, when my mother clued me in that I was on the spectrum.

Autism is often like a weird arrangement of this.

Autism is often like a weird arrangement of this.

Of course, once I got to college, it became much more prevalent in my mental awareness. I met every week with a counselor at Ohio State’s Office of Disability Services, and partly through their intervention, I had my own dorm room with attached bathroom in one of the calmer dorms on the north end of campus for two whole years (among other benefits)! When I graduated, I got my internship in Germany through a program that helped people with disabilities get internships and jobs with the federal government, and a year later that same program helped me get my current position. In my job, I often help people with disabilities receive accommodations for their disabilities so they can continue in their jobs, and use my own disability to help me empathize with the people I’m working with.

So yeah, my ASD has had a huge effect on my life, whether I realized it or not.

But it does not define me. This blog isn’t Rami Ungar the Austistic, it’s Rami Ungar the Writer. I place a lot more emphasis on the writing aspect of my life to define who I am. Judaism as well: I think my religion has done quite a bit to shape me. Not to mention anime and manga, the many books I’ve read throughout the years, my relationships with people, the things I’ve learned in school, the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen. Those have had just as much effect on me as autism has. And that makes sense, because human beings (I admit, I am a human being, despite my best efforts to say otherwise) are multifaceted creatures. It’s rare when a single one is the defining quality.

And by the way, I don’t see my autism as a disability. I mean, it is a disability, but I don’t necessarily see it that way. Remember that puzzle metaphor? I see my ASD as an opportunity, an opportunity to see the world differently and use that viewpoint to make a difference. Whether that is through my writing, through work, or just by trying to be a decent person. And I wouldn’t give that up for anything.

Today has been one of the scariest days of my life.

A little before ten this morning, a man named Abdul Artan rammed his car into Ohio State students as they evacuated Watts Hall, a material engineering and science building. The students had evacuated because someone had pulled an alarm in the building over a gas leak (no word on if this leak was a coincidence or planned). Artan then stepped out of his car with a butcher knife and started slashing students. A police officer nearby responded immediately, shooting Artan and killing him. The gunshots triggered a campus-wide lockdown and reaction from law enforcement throughout and outside Central Ohio. Somewhere between 7 and 10 people (reports still vary) were rushed to hospitals in the area, with one person in critical condition.

I was notified by a friend while at work. Immediately a coworker who had been in my graduating class at Ohio State with me and I were glued to my phone as we checked for updates through Twitter. We both knew that Twitter news can be very inaccurate sometimes, but we were scared and we didn’t care. We’re not just alumni of the university, we still have friends and family there. My old roommate is still a student there. My sister works at a bakery near campus. I still have former coworkers from the Student Financial Aid office whom I consider very good friends. Not to mention the number of fellow students and professors whom I still care for and was worried sick about.

For the best part of an hour, my coworker and I devoured updates, my fingers refreshing the feed every three seconds or so. Rumors were flying throughout that hour. There was a shooter at Watts Hall. There were two shooters at Watts Hall. Someone got slashed by a machete. There was another assailant in the garage at Lane and Tuttle Ave, connected to the building I used to work part-time in. There was a body on campus. There were five injured students. Seven injured students. Nine. Ten. One assailant had a machete, the other a gun. An assailant had been caught. An assailant had been killed. Two people had been arrested and were being escorted off campus for interrogation.  Watts had been cleared, and the surrounding buildings were being searched.

It wasn’t until around one o’clock, where I caught a news conference on the TV in the breakroom, that I started getting facts. And even then it didn’t reduce my fear. It just left me exhausted and anxious.

Understand, none of my friends or family were hurt. In the case of a few, including my sister, they weren’t even near campus when they happened. And I was a few miles southeast of campus, so I was in no danger whatsoever But it was still terrifying. For all I knew, a Columbine-style attack was happening at my alma mater, and no one was safe. I thought for sure that there was a definite chance someone I knew was going to get hurt or even killed.

And unlike when I want to get scared, where there’s a bit of a thrill, this fear was all-consuming. It filled me like a balloon with air, only instead the air within the balloon was dark and corrosive and wanted me to panic and feel that the worst was inevitable. And it left me cold and empty and with the promise that the moment there was more bad news, my fear would come back in full force.

Even now, I’m still a little shaky just writing this. I’m hoping that writing it out helps me process this, and maybe helps others process what happened today. I know quite a few people are going to be coming back to classes or work tomorrow wondering if the normally-safe campus will be attacked again by someone with a knife, or even an actual gun. They’re not alone. Everyone is scared and hoping that nothing like this happens again.

I hope you’ll join me in praying that the injured students and staff come out of today stronger than what they were before, that nothing like this ever happens again, and that we can stand up to fear and walk on proudly.

Happy Birthday to the blog
Happy Birthday to the blog
Happy Birthday, Rami Ungar the Writer
Happy Birthday to the blog.

Five years. It’s been five years since I started this blog, feeling my way haphazardly through the process of writing and posting about my writing and my life (in order of priority), with the hopes of building an audience so that by the time of I published my first book (at eighteen, I figured it was only a matter of time before that happened), I might have some ready readers eager to buy my first book, and every one after.

That didn’t go exactly as planned. But I have gotten a lot out of Rami Ungar the Writer. For one things, I’ve made lots and lots of friends. Angela Misri, Matthew Williams, Kat Impossible, Ruth Ann Nordin, Pat Bertram, Joleene Naylor, Dellani Oakes, and so many more. I’ve had the chance to write for other blogs, including Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors, and, yes, I’ve met people who’ve picked up my books and read them.

I’m also this close to nine-hundred followers, as well as so very close to five-thousand likes (like, sixty away! Sixty!). That’s something I’m very excited to achieve, though I’m not sure when either of those will happen.

But it’s more than just stats or book sales. The fact is, you’ve all been with me through a lot. Four years of college, the highs and lows of that fun, crazy experience. Progress in my writing career, including my first three published books, and the creation of several more, which I hope to get out as soon as possible. My study abroad trip, and then my internship in Germany, and all those fun, cool experiences. The long period of unemployment that nearly drove me insane, and finally the beginning of my new job/internship, which I hope will someday become a full-time position (God willing!). All of you, my Followers of Fear, have been with me through these past five years, and I’m really grateful for all the love and encouragement and interaction you’ve had with me. I hope that in the next five years, we can continue with this awesome relationship of ours, and maybe grow to let more people into this awesome community we’ve constructed online.

And that’s what the blogosphere is, when you get down to it. It’s a community. Connections of thousands upon thousands of writers on a million different subjects, getting together to talk about whatever. It’s a beautiful thing, and I’m so happy to be part of this community, no matter the size of my following or what we talk about on this blog.

Though I am happy that some of you are into horror and that some of you also read my books. I appreciate that a lot!

Now, onto the other stuff I promised with this post. First, a reader-suggested Q&A, with questions from this blog and from Facebook, as well as a couple of things I wanted to unload off my chest, so I asked myself (yes, I ask myself questions. I just don’t usually answer back. That would be weird). So without further ado, let’s begin:

What is your earliest recollection of your love of writing? (Sherri Kauth, from Facebook)

I don’t think there was ever a time I didn’t love to write. Or rather, a time I didn’t like storytelling. I would draw for hours, pretending I was making a great fantasy story or the storyboards for the next Pokemon movie. When I started learning how to spell and write and read, my pictures were accompanied by words, and as I got older I used more and more words, until I was writing novels. It wasn’t until I was ten that I really set myself to writing (with the occasional flirtation of becoming a mad scientist or a rockstar), but all things come in good time, am I right?

If you had to write in a completely different genre from what you’ve done so far, which one would you choose? (Kat Impossible, from the blog)

Easy, I’d go with erotica! I’ve read erotica before, and there’s definitely an art to it. It’s more than just simple porn, it’s a story revolving around sex. And I’ve written a sex scene or two in my time, one of which ended up in the final draft of Snake (of which someone close to me said, “He nailed it!”). I even have an erotic pen name I’d use if I ever got into the genre, along with some ideas for stories.

Of course, I’m not so sure my current employers would enjoy having an erotica writer on staff. Then again, they’re okay with me writing horror stories, so long as I don’t talk about them at work, so…

What is a favorite hobby besides reading, writing, or watching horror movies/TV? (Joleene Naylor, from the blog)

Oh goodness, that’s most of what I do when I’m not at work or eating or sleeping. Hmm…I guess rocking out to music or reading too much manga. And hanging out with friends, and family too (when I feel like I can retain my sanity).

Who is the favorite character you have created? (Tammy Whaley, from Faceebok)

Ooh, another tough one. In a way, I love all my characters. They’re like my children. Even the psychopathic ones. But if I had to choose, I’d have to go with Laura Horn, from the novel of the same name that I’m working on. In a way, she’s the character that I’ve made go through the hardest trials, and for whom her growth as a character is especially dramatic. For all of that, I want to give her a hug and tell her that she’ll be okay, even though I’m the source of her suffering (like I’ve said before, Writers are Cruel Gods). So I guess her suffering makes her my favorite character. What does that say about me?

What’s something from the past year you regret?

This is one I’m asking myself. Yes, I do have something: back in winter, I said I was going to do a series of posts about mental illness and its portrayal in horror stories. However, since then I’ve been so busy with so many different things, I haven’t had a moment to really work on this series, let alone do a post about attitudes about mental illness in general. So that’s been a problem for me. I felt guilty about it, since a lot of you were enthusiastic about me doing the project. And if I ever have actual time for it in the future, I will try my hardest to do the project. For now though, it’s on a far back burner until I can actually do something about it.

Well, I’m getting to the point where I’m really worrying about length, so I’ll wrap up the Q&A there (too bad, because I wanted to include more questions). Thanks to everyone who submitted questions, and I hope you liked the answers.

And finally, the giveaway. If you are interested in getting an autographed copy of one of my books, here are the rules. Below in the comments, you have to submit the following:

  1. Your name, as it would be listed on your mail (if you have a nickname you’d prefer, we can talk about that later).
  2. Which book you’d like from me (the choices are The Quiet Game, Reborn City, Snake, or Video Rage).
  3. What you find scary personally.
  4. The hashtag #RUscared? (See what I did there?)

Include all that below, and I’ll pick a winner a week from today, on August 9th. I’ll contact the winner, and send them the book, no matter where they live. Excited? Good. Ready? GO!

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll let you know if anything comes up before Friday. In the meantime, thanks again for sticking with me through all this time. I really appreciate it.

Big news, my Followers of Fear! On August 2nd, I will have reached five years of blogging! Yeah, five years. This blog (and the wonderful people who follow it, thank you very much for sticking with me through thick and thin) has been with me through four years of college, numerous articles on Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors, two visits to Europe, one-and-a-half internships, a very long period of unemployment, four published books (plus three at various stages of the editing/compilation process), too many short stories to count, a couple of which were published in some magazines and two anthologies, and a weird period of my life where I hunted down a serial killer while consulting with and developing an unusual relationship with another serial killer.

Oh wait, that’s the plot of Silence of the Lambs. Never mind.

Anyway, in honor of the big day, I will be doing a few things differently (and I don’t mean buying myself a cake in honor of the day, though that might happen as well). For one, I will be doing a Q&A, with questions provided by you, the readers. If there are any burning questions you’ve wanted to ask me, you can ask those in the comments up until July 31st, and I will answer them.

However, if you ask me to tell you where I live, or if I will marry you, I will have to decline on both counts. Sorry obsessives, I don’t want to end up in a real life version of Misery or Yandere Simulator.

Also, if you want to know what scares me, I’ll tell you right now: the Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoon from the 1980’s. I’m pretty sure the chipmunks from that show are actually the result of a strange genetic mutation, either from nuclear fallout or genetic engineering, and the males in that species all have some deformity in their middles that prevent them from wearing anything but long muumuus. Why else do the Chipettes get actual clothes but the title characters don’t?

I’m also terrified of large spiders. Tiny ones, I can deal with. However, if I can make out individual features on its face or it looks like it could easily stretch across the palm of my hand, I will scream like a little girl. It’s happened before.

I also want to hear feedback from you, dear readers. What do you think I’m doing right as a writer and a blogger? Anything I can improve upon? What posts do you prefer from me? Tell me in the comments below, so I can make Rami Ungar the Writer an even better blog.

Another reason to look forward to the big day, I’m going to be doing a giveaway on August 2nd in honor of the big occasion. I will be giving away an autographed copy one of my books (your choice of which one), that I will send to the winner after winning. I’ll give the full details on the day of the anniversary, so if you want to participate, check in on August 2nd. I’ll announce the winner in a subsequent blog post.

Oh, and one more note: I’ve got a couple of interviews coming up. One is with a blog I discovered through my friend Joleene Naylor, who will be releasing an interview soon. The other is actually a podcast. I’ll be rejoining my friend and colleague Dellani Oakes on her podcast, Red River Online Radio (links to follow soon) to talk books, authors, and maybe reading an excerpt from Video Rage. Get excited!

Alright, gotta go. I’m looking forward to hearing your questions and feedback, and I’m especially looking forward to celebrating this big milestone with you. Let’s have a good time on the second, shall we?

Until next time, my Followers of Fear!

So I finished that outline for that new novel I plan to write for NaNoWriMo later this year. First draft of the outline, anyway. I probably will revisit it again before November, make some more tweaks and possibly add a scene or two. It’s a ghost story, and since ghost stories tend to involve the protagonist or protagonists being affected on a very personal level by the spirits involved, often by exacerbating personal problems as well as actually haunting the people involved (ghosts and ghost stories are very intimate that way, I’ve noticed), I’ll want to make sure that that’s done right in this story before I write it.

Now that that’s taken care of, I’m finally getting around to working on Rose, the novel I wrote as a thesis for my senior year of college. If you’re unfamiliar with that novel, it’s about a woman with amnesia who finds herself trapped in the home of a man who says he’s her boyfriend, her body going through astounding changes which this man says was to save her life. I started writing it in September 2014, went back a couple weeks later to rework the entire story because the direction I was going in at first just wasn’t right for the story I wanted to tell, and finished the first draft in January 2015. Not too long afterwards I did a second draft that I finished around April, and I haven’t touched it since.

So yeah, it’s been nearly a year since I worked on that novel. But between working and living in Germany, writing some original short stories and editing Video Rage twice and giving Laura Horn a much-needed second draft, can you blame me?

Okay, I might have also been a bit hesitant to approach Rose again. During my thesis defense at the end of my senior year, my advisor told me that if I were to get Rose up to the level worthy of getting it published, I would have to do quite a lot of work on it. And not just grammar and spelling, though that was mostly okay. I had to work in new scenes, space out some others, rework a couple of characters, and change a bunch of stuff in the beginning of the book. Add to that the normal work of editing, and I’ve got one hell of a third draft ahead of me. It’s a bit intimidating, almost like starting a new novel and facing a blank page asking for sixty-thousand plus words.

Yeah, the horror writer’s scared of his own creation. Make fun of him and the irony. Go ahead, get it out of your system.

But you know what? I think I’m up for the task. I took Laura Horn, which I was sure would need an entire rewrite, and the worst that it came to was a few tossed chapters and one major plot point subtly changed to better reflect actual circumstances. If I can tackle that (and LH was a much longer book, by the way), I think I can tackle Rose.

And not only that, but with this being the third draft, I think once this is one I can send it to n editor for a final look-over before I get ready to publish the book. So if we’re lucky, I could have Rose ready for publication by the end of the year. Wouldn’t that be great?

So I’m going to get two articles out of the way, and then I’m going to get straight onto Rose (unless I get the notes back on VR, in which case editing that takes precedence). Wish me luck, my Followers of Fear. I’m going to be very busy these next couple of months (though that is kind of my life in general).

As you know, I’ve got a billion different projects going on all at one time. I mean, I’ve got four books at various stages of the editing/compilation process, and I know that some of you are very interested in getting your hands on at least one of these books. So here are some updates on a few of the projects I’m working on getting out to you, the Followers of Fear.

Video Rage

I already mentioned this on my Facebook page and Twitter feed (which, if you are not on, I suggest you check out), but as of last night the third draft of Video Rage, the follow-up to my debut novel Reborn City. As many of you know, I had an editor, Britney Mills, help me look for any problems that I’d missed while working on the second draft. I’m pleased to say that after all the work on this draft, VR looks even better than before and may soon be ready for publication.

But first, I’m sending the manuscript back to Britney for another look over. Together we’ll catch any other problems we might’ve missed, and after all that’s been taken care of I can start working on getting this book out to you guys.

In the meantime, why not check out the first book, Reborn City? It’s the story of a Muslim teenager forced to join a street gang in a dystopian city-state, and the strange connection between the gang’s leaders and a shadowy organization that rules over the city. It’s also currently my most popular book. which I guess means I did a good job writing it. Anyway, if you’d like to check out Reborn City, it’s available in paperback and e-book from Amazon, Createspace and Smashwords. Happy reading, and let me know what you think when you’ve finished reading it.

Teenage Wasteland

No, that’s not a song by the Who. The title might be similar, but it’s not the same thing. It’s also not about teenagers high on acid at Woodstock, but my upcoming collection of short stories revolving around teenagers. And I’m happy to say that I’m making good progress on the collection.

As I’ve stated in previous posts, I’d like for TW to have at least thirteen short stories. So far, there are seven confirmed to be in the collection. Some, like Buried Alive or Travelers of the Loneliest Roads, have already been published and are just getting touch-ups. Others are originals that haven’t been published anywhere else (yet), such as Cult of the Raven God and A Project in Western Ideals. Some of those are getting touch-ups as well, but others, such as Project, will require more extensive editing.

Anyway, I plan to get through the last two short stories of those seven, and then I’ll take a break to get through another big project that needs some work. And after that, I plan to work on the other stories in TW until it’s time to prep for National Novel Writing Month (more on that when we get closer to November).

Rose

That big project I just mentioned? This is it. And if you don’t know what Rose is, it’s a novel I wrote as my thesis project during my senior year of college. The story follows a woman with amnesia whose body is undergoing some strange changes and her relationship with a strange young man who says he loves her. The story is pretty dark and strange, and I’m quite proud of what’s been done with it so far. However, there’s a bit more work to be done, so I’ve got at least one or two more drafts to go on this, and I plan to get started on the next draft after I finish with the stories from TW. Hopefully I’ll be done with it by the summer.

 

That’s all for now. If I have any more updates, I’ll make sure to let you know. Have a good rest of your day, my Followers of Fear. I know I will.