Guest Post // Tips for Writing Disabled Characters in Your Stories

Penny Wood Guest Post 5-24-18

Today, I’m excited to introduce to you a guest blogger! Her pen-name is Penny Wood and below you can read her post about writing disabled characters into your book or story.

“Penny Wood is soon to be a homeschool graduate after being educated at home her entire life. She loves animals, writing, laughing with her sisters, and is a hopeless Pinterest addict. She blogs at A Southern Belle With Stories To Tell about movies, Christianity, writing, and anything else that pops into her mind. She lives in a tiny North Carolina town with her parents, two sisters, and her crazy dog, Buddy.”

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Have you ever wanted to put a disabled character in your novel but weren’t sure how? Maybe you were worried you’d “get it wrong”? In writing my novel, The Summer I Saw Blue Peak, I learned a lot about disability and how to execute it in writing form, and it’s something that’s been on my heart to write lately. It was a little nerve-wracking at first to me, too, but I’ve learned a few things over time and I’d like to share with you some tips on how to write them into your novel.

Research, research, research

Maybe some of you are groaning right now, but research really is the best way to learn how to correctly portray disabled people in your novel. You can find out about lifestyle, daily activities, hobbies, and technology through research. You’ll also discover that many stereotypes about disability are surprisingly not true. For instance, it is a common misconception that blind people touch people’s faces to figure out what they look like, but actual people who are blind will tell you over and over that this is not true. Every author’s worst nightmare is getting told that they don’t know anything about their writing topic. Don’t let that be you; do your research!

Ask them for yourself

This is probably one of my best tips. There are many disabled bloggers and vloggers out there who are very happy to talk to you about their disability if you ask. It will seem strange at first, but we authors are known to do weird things for our books, so you might as well get used to it. 😊 People are so kind and gracious when you ask. I love contacting real people because I get tailored answers to my questions and I end up with a new friend, too!

(Note: Please do not ask rude or private questions. It’s okay to be curious, but everyone knows that some boundaries should not be crossed. I am disgusted with some of the questions disabled people get asked that are really no one else’s business. Don’t go there, it’s just not nice.)

Remember that your character is a person first and disabled second

When writing a disabled character, it’s easy to get caught up in the “s/he is blind, deaf, et cetera” and forget to develop a personality for the character (this is even more important if the character is your protagonist.) The character still needs a rich personality, likes and dislikes, funny quirks, and not-so-nice flaws. They are a person just like everyone else and need to be treated that way as you develop them in your writing.

Don’t go with what you might have seen on a TV show or movie, or even another book about disability

Chances are, they probably don’t have it right. Disabled people are very much stereotyped, often by television and books. It is painfully obvious who has and hasn’t done their research when it comes to the disabled characters (if you’ve ever seen a western featuring a blind person, you know what I’m talking about). This goes back to research again, so no, watching your favorite TV show that has a disabled character in one episode does not count as researching it! 🙂

It’s probably not a good idea to actually pretend to be your character

If you walk around your house wearing a blindfold or earplugs for a year, you’ll probably end up in the hospital. Maybe, if you’re sitting still, you might close your eyes for a second to notice how amplified everything else becomes, or how it might frustrate you if you lived in a wheelchair and had to do everything sitting down (but don’t actually rent a wheelchair or walk around with your eyes closed). My friend Cheyenne Raphael made an interesting point when she said that when you do that, all you will be thinking about is how hard this is, and that’s not really how disabled people think.

I hope I have encouraged you to start using disabled characters in your stories or have helped you to continue writing about them. Keep up the good writing work and thank you to Megan Joy for letting me be a guest on her awesome blog!

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Thank you, Penny Wood, for being today’s guest poster!

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Have you ever written a disabled character into a book or story?

Have you checked out Penny’s blog yet?

Do you want to be a guest poster on Simply Megan Joy? Just contact me so we can talk!

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Megan Joy

Longing for Transformation

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There is always something that we wish to change in our lives. It was the transformation from winter to spring that I longed for this year. It seemed to take forever for nature to wake up and be alive again. Every time I felt the bitter cold in my face I asked: where are you spring? Why haven’t you come? For months, mother nature’s heart refused to be warmed.

In one of my favorite films, Little Women (1994), Jo March says that she is “longing for transformation.” I know precisely how she feels. Don’t you?

In each of our lives there are stages, some good and some bad. It’s the bad stages that seem to drone on forever. It feels like there is no end, for we cannot see it ahead.

With whatever someone is going through, a family member sick or in the hospital, financial burdens, continuous frustration, any trial that we may have, are we guaranteed an end? Are we handed a calendar with a big X on it, symbolizing the day of the transformation from bad to good? No. So how can we continue on with a smile? If there is something to bog down our happiness, why be happy?

As Christians, we “know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 KJV. Trials, loss, pain; it’s all temporary. Every moment we live longing for transformation is a moment of building hope and faith in God. The question is, can we push past our heavy burdens and finally reach that transformation? Only with God’s help, we can. The Lord may let trials fall in our path, but he is always there to help us, never forsaking us. He makes sure that we are equipped, so that we may walk through those trials and come out the other side with a smile.

Choose to look at each of your trials as a test. Can you keep faith that God knows best as you wait for that transformation? Can you keep a smile and uplifted heart as you wait for that change? Can you use your situation for Him? Can you trust in the Lord?

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” KJV

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What trials have been in your heart lately?

Do you have any prayer requests? Just let me know and I’ll be happy to pray for you.

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Megan Joy

Why We Shouldn’t Try to Be Popular

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Being popular sounds inviting, does it not? Isn’t it true that we all like to be liked? Whether we’re scrolling through Instagram, reading a blog, or talking to someone in person, do thoughts of jealousy silently creep in when we see their greater popularity? Do we not, even subconsciously, compare our own lives to what we are presented through social media, the internet, and conversations? That’s the key word here: presented.

For this post, I’m going to use Instagram as the main example, but it can be applied to any social media platform, the internet, or an in-person experience.

The countless Instagram accounts brimming with perfectly planned photos and striking filters may make it seem to any onlooker that those accounts represent the real lives of the Instagrammers. However, I can assure you, they do not. The Instagrammers don’t see the world through the Valencia filter or have lives compiled of only the most seemingly perfect photos they post. Life doesn’t work that way, not for anybody. Many people post content for the sole reason of becoming popular with their audiences. Their content may not even please themselves, and only be posted for sheer popularity/followers/likes.

Now that we’ve established that what some people choose to present to their audience does not necessarily reflect their true lives, let’s each ask ourselves a question. Do I do that?

When we post something either on social media or the internet, or even how we act and speak, are we doing it for popularity, to impress someone, and to seem a little different than we really are? Are we trying to get more likes or friends by presenting things that do not reflect our true selves? What if, by doing that, we are creating a fictional social front and not revealing what we truly enjoy, think, or find interesting?

Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this epidemic of trying to become popular: don’t try. Just completely drop everything that is dishonestly encouraging popularity and instead be yourself. Present content that truly makes you happy and interests you. Stop “trying” to be popular, because if you aren’t being yourself, then they don’t like you, they like the artificial life you have presented.

Also, this is a reminder that you do not have to agree with other people (on social media, the internet, or in real life) just to become popular in their eyes. Do not feel as though you must pretend to like or agree with something that a friend likes or agrees with to win their friendship or approval. Lying and being dishonest about what you believe or like to gain popularity is definitely not a good thing to practice. Being popular in the eyes of friends, peers, and strangers matters not a pittance if you aren’t popular in God’s eyes.

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When people look at what we present to the world, we should want them to see us, not a fake life that we’ve created for an audience. More importantly, when people look at us, they should see Jesus. We should always remember that what we present should be a reflection of our Lord above; things that are true, things that are pure, and things that are lovely. Be yourself, the daughter/son of The King and be sure to represent Him in everything we do.

As my final question: what are you presenting to the world: content created to gain popularity, or the real you, the child of The King?

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Do you find yourself presenting content for popularity that isn’t the real you?

Have you ever felt like you had to agree with someone to gain popularity in their eyes?

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Megan Joy

(P.S. There is nothing wrong with posting pretty or pre-planned pictures on social media, but make sure that it represents the true you, things that you like, enjoy, and wish to share with others, like the love of our Heavenly Father!)

7 Free Bible Verse Posters to Hang on Your Wall

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What’s a better place to hang some inspiring and uplifting verses other than your bedroom wall?  I’ve created 7 verse designs for you to print out and place where you will see them every day!

Proverbs 3:5-6

Proverbs 3 5-6

Joshua 1:9

Joshua 1-9

Matthew 11:28

Matthew 11-28

1st Peter 5:7

floral 5

Philippians 4:13

Philippians 4-13

Matthew 6:21

Matthew 6-21

Romans 8:28

Romans 8-28 2nd

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You can save these photos to your computer, print, and cut them out, and hang them wherever you like. You could give one to a friend who needs encouragement or fold one up and slip it into your sibling’s backpack with a note on the back saying how much you appreciate them! Be creative by printing them out on cardstock and give them as Valentine’s Day gifts (or save them for Easter)!

P.S. All verses above were taken from the King James Version Bible.

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Which verse speaks to you the most?

Shout out to “The Hungry JPEG” for the use of their free graphic designs!

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Megan Joy

My Crimson Christmas // Ft. Lindy Bop

Quick disclaimer: This is not a paid sponsorship nor am I in affiliation with Lindy Bop at this time.

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This wonderfully beautiful 1950s inspired dress called the “Marianne Red Swing Dress and Jacket Twin Set” came from Lindy Bop! It was the first time ordering from them and I can’t wait to order another dress in the future! I also bought the crinoline there which I’ve already wore this my last fashion post!

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The crimson color, the fullness of the skirt, the style of the jacket, and its perfect fit made this the best Christmas dress. I just love it! Incidentally, it also comes in dark blue, light blue, pink, burgundy, black, gray, and white, all of which I would love to have. Coming from London, it is of high quality and of wonderful craftsmanship. Unfortunately, the price matches the high quality, so I shall be content with this red one for a while. (P.S. I bought this particular dress on sale. Three cheers for Christmas sales!)

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If you love vintage fashion and classy clothes, you must head over to Lindy Bop! They have so many great finds, and coincidentally, they’re having a 60% off end of year sale, which includes the “Marianne Burgundy Swing Dress and Jacket Twin Set!” Go check it out and come back and tell me if you like it!

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The New Year will soon be upon us, so this will be the last fashion post of the year! Do you have any specific goals for 2018? Any fashion goals?

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dress and jacket // lindy bop

shoes // payless

crinoline // lindy bop

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Megan Joy

Retro With a Chance of Flurries

Snow flurries! What can be better than snow flurries? Hot chocolate and a book by a warm fire, actually! But before you sip your steamy cocoa topped with marshmallows, you have to get outside and frolic in the snow a bit! So that’s exactly what I did!

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I was very excited to finally wear the new crinoline I ordered from Lindy Bop! It works perfectly with this skirt that I made last year. They have so many color choices of crinoline, but I chose classic white. Lindy Bop has such a great vintage collection! If you love dressing vintage, wish to start, or just want to try it out, Lindy Bop is a great place to shop! I do suggest collecting all the things you want in your shopping cart, and then waiting for a sale because it can be on the pricey side.

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My sister did my hair and added the bows! The whole day I felt like Minnie Mouse!

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While you may see me smiling in these photos, what you are not seeing is: me shivering nearly to death, my feet frozen in the snow, my hands turning red and numb, and me yelling, “It doesn’t matter if it’s in focus! Just take the picture so we can go inside!

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To match all the colors of my outfit, I wore my “I Like Ike” pin! I once wore it to the voting polls and the people in front of me thought it was funny! Comment below if you know what my pin means!

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Besides liking Ike, I also like this little snowflake, resting on my sweater, all by itself. It reminds me of that well-known fact that no two snowflakes are alike. Out of all the times it snows, and all the millions of snowflakes that make up a storm, none are the same. Yes, this little snowflake is different, it doesn’t match another, and maybe it’s a little small among the countless other flakes, but it’s still beautiful. Just like us.

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skirt // made by me

sweater // target

shoes // old navy

crinoline // lindy bop

hair bows // (white) icing, red (christmas ornament)

pin // free

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How much snow did you get this week?

What do you think about snowflakes being different?

Do you know what my pin means?

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Megan Joy

Quote of the Week // 49th Week

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Benjamin Franklin, born in 1706, was one of the Founding Father of the U.S. During his lifetime, he was the 6th President of Pennsylvania, the United States Minister to both Sweden and France, and the 1st United States Post Master. Besides his many more well-known inventions and experiments, he also developed a version of the glass harmonica, and founded one of the first volunteer firehouses. He died in 1790 and today is buried in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Good ole’ Benjamin Franklin said many wise things. This quote is certainly one of them! Preparation and failure; two terms that seem to be non-coexistent. If you have one, you don’t have the other, and visa-versa.


Taking the time for preparation is a wonderful way of earning ourselves a better chance of being successful in our tasks. In a lifetime, there are so many things to prepare for, like practicing for a piano recital, studying for an exam, packing for and routing a trip, getting ready to take a driver’s test, memorizing answers for a job interview, rehearsing for a competition, or even hosting a party. All of these things require preparation, if we wish to succeed.


Not to say that good preparation will eliminate every chance of failure because of unforeseen occurrences, but the probabilities of failure will be significantly slimmer.
While I write this, I must confess that I’m not the best example of this! Lately, I tend to think ahead to the things I need to prepare, and then quickly forget about them like they’re flower petals, fallen in a stream and floating away with the swift current. So, I write this post mostly for myself, as an attempt to help remember what ole’ Ben once said about preparation. Do you have any thoughts on preparation, or how to make it easier?


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Do you have a story of when you forgot to prepare for something?
Was there a time when you prepared well for something and it was a success?
Are you excited for Christmas?
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Megan Joy

Sunday Bests // A Little Shabby Chic

Sunday Bests // A Little Shabby Chic

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Today, I ventured into “shabby chic” fashion! I’m not personally a big fan of the modern shabby chic styles, but with a more vintage twist, I don’t think I mind it! There’s something about a floppy hat and a baggy skirt that just has a homey feel about it, creating a comfortable yet stylish outfit for exploring the countryside!

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Last week, I made this necklace from a quartz rock and some copper wire. I think it turned out pretty well for my second try (I don’t think you even want to see my first try!). I asked my brother if he could make the stone into a heart shape. He whacked it with a hammer and it sort of ended up like a heart, maybe?

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I think autumn is the most photogenic season of them all. Just about anywhere you point your camera, you’re bound to capture the grand beauty of God’s nature through the lens!

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I really love this pair of sun glasses from Rue 21! The roundness is nicely balanced by the gold leaf design on the rims. When I wear them, it turns my world into a wild range of magical autumn hues! The photo below shows the difference. On the left half of the picture, is the view from the glasses and on the right what it looks like to the plain eye! It’s quite dramatic!

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So, that is my version of autumn shabby chic. Maybe I’ll visit it again someday soon?

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sweater // target

skirt // thrifted

hat // kohl’s

shoes // target (my sister’s)

necklace // made by me

sunglasses // rue 21

belt // thrifted

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Megan Joy