Re-opening Schools Is A BAD Idea

When this craziness with Covid-19 first started and I learned I would be homeschooling my ten year old twins I will admit, I went a little crazy. I don’t understand their stupid math. It makes no sense, no matter how many times teachers tell you it does, it does not. Not to us who learned the “old fashioned” way. But it turned out not to be that big of a deal. Most of what they do is online and the teacher is able to check it from her end and then we do some independent reading and take nature walks and make crafts. I now kind of enjoy it to be honest, and so do they.

This isn’t my first homeschool rodeo. When our oldest daughter was a Freshman in high school she had a breakdown. My over achiever burnt herself out and one day the girl just walked out of school, into town and called me to pick her up from a cafe. She told me, “I just can’t do it, Mom.” And that was that. What choice did we have? Make her go to school and possibly find her dead from an overdose? No thank you! So we made the choice to homeschool her that year. I found an online program that had low monthly payments and everything she needed from online teachers. We used Khan Academy to help with the math because she only knew how to do the “new” math and the homeschool program taught the old stuff. She loved it! She zipped through her freshman year and part of her sophomore year with plans to graduate early.

She ended up deciding to go back to school because she missed her friends and wanted to graduate in 2020 with her class. (Little did we know how that would pan out!) And when she returned she did so with straight A’s, 4.0 GPA (higher actually) and graduated tenth in her class. Homeschool did not harm this child one bit. Instead, it gave her a huge advantage she would not have had otherwise.

More importantly, it kept my kid alive and for that I am eternally grateful.

So when the CDC released their guidelines for returning to school in the Fall I flipped my lid. Number one, I think it’s a mistake to go back before this thing is completely under control without the need to wear masks. My children cannot wear a mask for very long, if at all. My son has breathing issues and severe anxiety, my daughter has sensory processing disorder. I can hardly get her to wear clothes let alone a mask!

But still, the government and schools are pushing to reopen. Why? Well in a nutshell – money. Yep. I am convinced it comes down to the dollars. Teachers want to go back to work, even though the majority are still being paid their normal salaries to work from home. Parents want to go back to work to support their families, and many use schools as babysitting services. So I get that, people want to work, people need child care. And I also understand some parents are perfectly willing to send their kids back to school wearing a mask, gloves, Hasnat suit if necessary. These are the parents who will do whatever their school says because they have “SCHOOL SPIRIT!”

I find the school spirit parents the most disturbing. These are the ones on the PTA, the sports parents, the cheerleaders, the ones who are always shouting “I stand behind my school!” Well guess what? I stand behind my children. I will do whatever I need to do to keep them safe and comfortable and if that means homeschooling till this is over, then so be it.

People will argue that our children need socialization. Well how much socialization are they going to get in school when they have to remain six feet apart, in a mask, are not allowed to share toys, books, and can’t have recess, gym, etc? Not much! Here at home they’ll have each other and me and their sister and dad, pets. Plus I plan to take them for walks and they’ll see people then. Not the same as real socialization, but better than nothing.

Reopening the schools in the fall, not only in my opinion, but based on models from health officials, will do this: START THE WHOLE DAMN THING OVER AGAIN! You send the kids to school in their little masks, you tell them to stay away from each other and wash their hands, etc. And you know what is going to happen? They aren’t going to listen. Because they are freaking kids. You are not going to be able to keep eyes on them at all times. You going to follow them into the bathroom? Those masks are going to come off, there will be huddling to whisper so they don’t get caught, laughing, talking, sneezing, coughing, nose picking, touching of faces.

And those miracle masks everyone loves? Well, once the little ones sneak them off then put them back on, they are now chock full of germs, right up against your kids mouth and nose, going right into their systems. Then they will bring those germs home to you, but not before sharing them with all their friends.

That’s the reality of what is going to happen if you re-open schools. People are going to get sick again, your child is going to get sick and they are going to spread that sickness to vulnerable people who are going to die. Plus we will still don’t know just how this effects children. I’m not willing to let my child be used as a guinea pig while they sort this shit out.

I know there are some people who simply cannot continue to homeschool because of their situations. I wish everyone had the option to keep their kids at home. But unfortunately the government has been and always will be pro public school no matter what evidence there is to back up the benefits of homeschool.

If schools insist on reopening, then at least give parents an option of whether to continue at home or go back to face to face learning with the teacher. I can do it on my own but it would be easier for my children to be able to remain with their class until they are able to go back to school normally and safely.

I sincerely hope all schools will consider this option. Parents have a right to keep their children safe and no child should be used as a pawn for our ridiculous government.

Some Great Tools For Your Writing Needs

We never stop learning, whether we are writers or someone else, the learning (hopefully) continues. I did not go to college for writing. Instead I did the “practical” thing and took business classes and became a secretary. So I don’t have the formal education that people with a degree in writing have.

But, I have tried to educate myself throughout all these years and I’ve found some great material. For many years I collected and read every single Writer’s Digest book available. And I do recommend these, they are awesome!

The other day I discovered the Self-Editing Master Class by Jerry Jenkins. I’ve been struggling with editing my manuscripts for a while now so this came along at just the right time. The course is only $27 and you get some great info. Check it out here at Jerry’s website (he has many other classes as well!) https://jerryjenkins.com/

One of the instructor’s in Jerry’s class is author K.M. Weiland. She was fascinating to listen to and has some amazing tips for editing your manuscript. And, she also has a very cool program you can purchase and use to help with your editing. I purchased it yesterday and got it up and running on my computer and away I went. You will not be sorry if you buy it, I kid you not guys! *I’m not being paid or rewarded in any way for endorsing these programs, I’m just sharing the good news!* You can see for yourself just what Weiland has to offer by going here: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/

Finally, I made the plunge to Scrivener a few days ago. I’ve been wanting a better program than Word for working on my novels and Scrivener allows you to have all your material in one place so you don’t have to keep hopping from screen to screen. It is a little hard to learn so I am not to the point where I can use it properly but I am watching numerous online videos and it’s helping. I think Scrivener is a very good tool for writers, even with the high learning curve. Check it out here: https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener/overview

I hope you find a program you like, I have all three of these and they work together, so that’s cool, right?

Keep on learning, guys, and don’t stop!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Do You Give Consent?

Last night while browsing the internet, I read the most ridiculous comment on writing romance that I think I have ever read. I didn’t pay much attention to who actually made the comment or where it came from. Mostly because I immediately saw red.

The comment went something like this: “Romance writers, please make sure when you’re writing romance novels that you have your characters give consent.” It probably went on about why this is important, but by then, I was done reading.

For years there’s been this backlash against the strong, aggressive usually male character, throwing the heroine over his shoulder and taking her to his bed to make wild, passionate love. Because who would want that after all. Only a zillion housewives and other females. But I digress.

Consent in romance. Okay. I get it. We certainly don’t want to be writing novels where we glorify a guy (or girl for that matter) taking someone by force. There’s the word we need to focus on: “glorify.” I don’t think there are any (sane) writers out there who would “glorify” rape in the first place. Does it get mentioned? Yes. In the context of a scene, it definitely would be. If it were warranted. If I have a book where the villain is a rapist, well guess what? He’s gonna rape! Why he even might rape my main character. Or if I’m writing about an abusive husband, he is likewise going to act like a douche. Because that’s FICTION! Bad things happen; bad guys and girls exist in fiction. And, depending on your genre, time period, etc., sometimes even the GOOD guy or girl does terrible things.

Let’s take a for instance here: In my book, The Whisper of a Rose (which is currently being edited and will be republished in a second edition soon!!) my main male lead is Joe Larson. Joe is a rough, tough basic jerk at the beginning of the book. He is not a guy that goes looking for the good girl. He looks for a good time. And he drinks and gets drunk and carouses like the cad he is. He is also drop-dead gorgeous and suave and slick, he’s used to getting what he wants from any female he drops his baby blues on.

Now, some rather uptight people might think that Joe is “bad” because he has all these traits. In today’s world, he’d be your classic douche. But this is a historical novel set in the early 1920s. So Joe’s character traits, while not super great, are also not super bad. They’re expected and completely normal.

A guy like Joe Larson doesn’t politely ask a girl for a kiss. He doesn’t court her or gently hold her hand and act like Prince Charming. Because he’s not Prince Charming. He’s douche bag Joe. If he wants a kiss, he takes it. And the girls he kisses melt into a mushy puddle and can barely breathe when the kiss ends. They give consent with their bodies, not their words. Trust me, that consent comes, just during the act, not prior.

Is that bad? Well, if some guy walked up to you today and grabbed you and kissed you, probably yes (unless you knew him intimately already). Because that’s real life. In real life, that would be considered assault. But we’re not talking about real life in fiction. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume most people read books to escape, and they kind of get that this is a fantasy world. It’s a story, that’s all.

I am not saying there isn’t a problem with consent in real life. There is. We’ve seen it in Hollywood and other places. But unless you are writing a book set in modern times, then please keep your consent out of your fiction. (Even in modern fiction there might be times when the guy kisses a girl aggressively. If it fits the character and the plot, once again, it’s okay. Remember it’s YOUR story!)

How people saw things in the past is entirely different from how they see them now. I know the “PC” thing is to take an apologetic stance to the past, but I say bullshit! I won’t apologize for the history in my writing. I will write it as it happened, as my characters would see and react to it and behave in it. Anything else would be a farce.

Do not compromise your characters or your story just for the “political correctness.” Your readers will thank you for sticking to your guns.

Photo by Dimitri Kuliuk on Pexels.com

Childhood Bullies

I don’t know what has me thinking about childhood bullies tonight. But that’s where my mind is going for some odd reason. Kids today have bullies of course, but I’m not sure they are the same kind we had when I was growing up.

I was a kid in the 70’s, a teen in the 80’s. I lived in a small rural Mid-West community, a village actually, too tiny to even be called a town. We lived on roads, not streets and those roads were dirt and rutted with deep potholes and washboard bumps that rattled your teeth when you rode your bike over them.

In our neighborhood, which I guess could very loosely be called a “suburb” we had our own gang of jackasses who made the lives of shy little kids like myself miserable. These boys were older, probably in their early to mid teens. I was around ten and I hung around with the other kids my age and younger. I steered clear of the bad boys. They scared the shit out of me.

There were probably around eight of them all together, all tough guys, with feathered long hair or crew cuts. They wore jeans with chains hanging out of their back pockets and white tee shirts and did stuff like smoke cigarettes and swear and sneer and crack their knuckles at us younger kids. One look from one of these morons and you nearly peed yourself.

One particular day, that is burned into my memory, I was out riding my bike with one of my friends. I had her on my handle bars, such as you did in those days, and we were pedaling along down the dirt road behind my house, perfectly happy, when what did we come upon? Four members of the bully brigade, all on their bikes, parked in the middle of the road.

I should mention here that although I was a shy kid, I was also a little mouthy and very stupid. Because when I pedaled past these ogres, they made some comment and brilliant me came back with, “Shut up!”

You did not tell these boys to shut up. Especially if you were a scrawny ten year old girl.

The road dead ended so I had no choice but to turn around and ride back and they were waiting for us.

No, scratch that. There were two of us on the bike but those bastards were waiting for ME!

This time there was no going around them, they had their bikes and bodies smack dab in the middle of the road so I had no choice but to stop my bike and my friend got down from the handlebars.

The biggest, Jamie, looked at me with cool, dark eyes. “Did you just tell us to shut up?”

I don’t remember if I even said anything. I think my tongue was paralyzed and my eyeballs had gotten so big they now took up most of my face.

My friend didn’t say anything either. She just stood there, frozen, mute. She was younger than I was and was probably even closer to pissing than I was.

One of the other guys now spoke up, looking at me with a smirk. “That wasn’t very nice, now was it, boys?” This one scared me the most. For the life of me I can’t remember his name, but he had a pretty bad reputation in our neighborhood for beating the shit out of people on a regular basis. He was actually kind of cute, but at that moment I wasn’t crushing on him, that was for sure!

They wouldn’t let us go past. They sat there on their bikes and talked about how they were going to knock the shit out of us. They said all this to each other very casually, like they were making dinner plans. I don’t know how long we stood there or exactly what all they said. I just remember how I felt. I was freaking terrified. They probably would not have touched us but we didn’t understand that they were just messing with us. It didn’t matter. I was literally in fear for my life, figuring they’d find my battered and bruised body afterwards in one of the deep ditches that lined the roads.

Finally I started to cry, which seemed to give them the twisted satisfaction they wanted. With a subtle motion of his head, Jamie let me pass and I booked it out of there. I’m ashamed to say I left my friend in the dust as I rode like the wind home. (don’t worry, she made it out unscathed!)

I can’t remember if I ever told my parents about what had happened. I don’t think I did, I was embarrassed that they had turned me into a blubbering little idiot. It was not one of my finest moments but it’s also a moment I have been unable to forget.

Those boys all grew up to be middle aged men now. I’m sure they are all married with children and possibly grandchildren of their own. I think a few of them are actually dead. When I was in high school I was reacquainted with the cute bully, who then was perfectly nice to me. WTF? It was all I could do not to ask him if he remembered scaring the shit out of me when I was ten. But I didn’t. I guess I was too entranced with his looks to care.

They weren’t the first bullies I’d ever encountered and they also weren’t the last. Even as an adult you run into bullies, in the form of bosses or other people. It’s sad, but it still happens. But I no longer allow jerks like that to take away my power. I almost feel sorry for them, because I’ve come to realize a person has to really hate something within themselves to be so hateful to another human being.

So I can’t forget my bullies and I’m not real sure I can forgive them either. The question is, can they forgive themselves?

Book Trailers!!!

Hi everyone! This is just a quick post to let you know I now have book trailers for my two published works, The Whisper of a Rose, and Docia’s Diary. After messing around for a ridiculous amount of time trying out paid programs to make trailers I finally ended up getting the best results just by using the Video Editor that comes in Windows! Totally free, totally easy. Why didn’t I do this earlier????

The trailers can be found under the new page “Book Trailers” above. As I add more trailers that’s where you’ll be able to find them. They will also be featured on my Facebook and new Youtube channel!

Let me know what you think of them, but be kind, I am a novice with no clue of what I am doing!

PS I’ll also post the trailers here for your viewing pleasure!

How Dare You Write About That? Tackling Historical Fiction Fearlessly

When I first got the idea to write about a sister of THE Charles Ingalls, I didn’t realize exactly just what I was taking on. I didn’t think it would be that much of a big deal, really. After all, there are a ton of books out there about various members of the Ingalls and Quiner, etc. families, plus the things you find based on the television show and OF COURSE the original Little House novels themselves.

However, I soon discovered that daring to delve into the lore of Little House has its risks. People are a little bit funny when you start talking about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her legacy. Now I’m a fan. A big one. I lived and breathed the Little House on the Prairie that Michael Landon created, and I lived and breathed the books LIW wrote. I got my hands on every biography that came out on LIW and her family. Then I tried reading the new fiction books for juveniles that came out but didn’t get very far with those. (Sorry, they just weren’t my cup of tea!)

I even, in the 1990s, got to visit Laura and Almanzo’s home in Missouri, Rocky Ridge. I love this stuff, I honestly do. I just don’t worship it. Yes, I said worship. As I researched material for my book, I found that some people aren’t just fans, they are FANS! It was a little scary, actually. It made me second guess myself, more than once. Suddenly the entire outline I’d planned seemed in jeopardy. Because I kept thinking, well crap, if I write this, the FANS are gonna freak! And that made writing this book a lot harder than it should have been.

On doing further research into Historical Fiction writing, I’ve discovered that, unfortunately, this is not an uncommon thing. No matter what subject you pick, there is going to be a little league of devotees who feel some ownership of the historical material, and it’s use. Let’s say you write an historical fiction about Martha Washington, and you mention that she liked to regularly jump George’s bones. (I have no idea if this is true, but it would be if I wrote the book!) Or a book about Abe Lincoln where you take on those gay rumors and run with them. Can you imagine the FUSS??!!

I’ve already seen it happen in the Little House world. The book, Caroline, by Sarah Miller, mentions the “S” word (here, I’ll whisper it so as not to offend anyone “Sex!”) between Caroline and Charles Ingalls. A married couple who were in love and yes, did have sex since they did have five children. Well, did the prairie sod hit the fan over that one! I read the book; it’s not porn, it’s handled in a classy, poetic way, but people freaked. Why? Because you can’t say that anyone in the Ingalls family had (sex) (whispering again!) It’s just not to be mentioned. Like “He Who Will Not Be Named.” It’s “The Act That Will Not Be Named.”

Give me a break. People have sex. They have always had sex. I’m sorry to break it the FANS, but every single person in that esteemed family probably had sex. (Maybe not Blind Mary, but I bet she thought about it!) And sometimes they said bad words. And drank alcohol and smoked and stole cows and ran around with women or men and got into fights and even killed people. Holy Crap!

They did all those things because they were as human as you or me today. And there is nothing wrong with writing about it, whether it be non-fiction or fiction.

People have this vision in their heads of historical figures; they put them on such high pedestals that if anyone dares to write a FICTIONAL tale about them, offering a different view, everyone loses their biscuits. Over what?? It’s a STORY. Unless you were a witness to the lives of these historical figures and heard and saw all the conversations they had, all their private moments, etc., you have no idea what actually happened. That’s what makes historical fiction so magical. We get to run in and say, “Hey, what if it was like this?” And I think that’s super cool!

I don’t know why some people are so afraid of this! What do they think will happen if someone writes that Abe Lincoln liked guys?? Or that Emily Dickinson had a secret lover? It doesn’t change this person’s accomplishments one iota. It’s merely telling a tale for entertainment. And, if someone reads said tale and decides to learn more about the real person, then it’s a win-win for everyone.

So here is what I beg of the super loyal FANS of historical figures: Be open to the possibilities. Don’t be threatened when someone wants to show a different view or a view that’s not even been looked at before. There is a story for everyone in this world. Let them be read and enjoyed! Don’t use history as an excuse to try to censor anyone. And read those books yourself, you might even like them!

You Don’t Always Need a Happy Ending

When I was little, I loved fairy tales. From the “Once upon a time” to the “And they lived happily ever after” and every bit in between. I loved that all so much that when I got married, Cinderella was our “theme”!

But in my writing, I’m not always content with the happy endings. I don’t know what it is really, maybe that little sadistic bent I have buried deep inside of me, but some stories scream out at me, “no, no happy ending for this one.”

Sometimes I just don’t want to let that evil go. Depending on the story, the characters, plot, feeling, I will either let everyone off at the end of the day or off everyone at the end of the day! (hee hee, see what I did there?)

It used to be in writing there were all these “rules” (gag). One rule seemed to be that you just could not end a book without a happy ending. Everything had to be wrapped up nice and pretty and tied with a bow. Then Alfred Hitchcock came along, and the rules changed, thank heaven! Hitchcock would let you think all was well at the end, then smack! Not so fast! The killer was still alive, or the main character discovers he’s now in a zoo for humans on another planet or some such thing. (okay, that one is the Twilight Zone, but you get my drift!)

I can remember watching that stuff as a kid, and my mom would get so pissed! She read mostly romance, where you do, of course, want a happy ending. She didn’t get my fascination with this creepy horror/mystery/suspense stuff, and when the show didn’t end up in that neat package, she’d go nuts. “That stupid Hitchcock! I hate that man!” she’d scream, then she’d stomp off to her room to read her latest happy ending book.

But I loved it! I will admit, there is this little moment of “noooooooo!” at the end of these things when the main character is not only on that cliff but pushed off to his death. But then it’s like, hmmm, interesting. Because it’s different. It’s not predictable. And it’s brave, and I sure do like writing with guts.

So the next time you sit in front of your computer to start that new story, ask yourself. Are you going to give your readers a tidy ending, or are you going to send your characters off that cliff?

Let your gut decide. It won’t steer you wrong.

Strong Women on the Prairie

My latest novel, Docia’s Diary, revolves around a very strong, independent woman. Laura Ladocia Ingalls Waldvogel Forbes, better known to Little House on the Prairie fans, as “Aunt Docia,” was one gutsy chick. Docia was the younger sister of “Pa” Charles Ingalls. Seventh of ten children, she was featured in Little House in the Big Woods and later By the Shores of Silver Lake.

She married twice, divorced once, widowed once, and bore nine children. During this time she dealt with husband number one being imprisoned for manslaughter, husband number two and his chronic alcoholism, and traveling all over the American Mid-West with her children in tow, often pregnant at the time, PLUS working at back-breaking jobs such as cooking for the men in various railroad camps.

Docia was no shrinking violet, and she wasn’t prim and proper like her sister in law, Caroline Ingalls. She didn’t spout little words of wisdom from the Bible or insist on proper manners from her children, and I am willing to bet she cussed. I know I would have! This was no easy life for anyone, but Docia not only survived, she thrived and carried on working her butt off and taking care of her family until she finally died at age 72.


But unlike her famous sister in law, Docia has been unfairly maligned by history. She does get some good press in Little House in the Big Woods, where she is described as one of the pretty aunts dressing up for the dance at Grandpa’s. (The other being sister Ruby, the youngest Ingalls girl). In reality, at the time Docia appears in the Big Woods book, she was already a divorced woman with two children, living at home with her parents while her husband wallowed away in the state prison.


Divorce in those days was taboo, for real. It was hard to even get a divorce back then, and most courts sided with the husband, painting the wife in a bad light, even in cases of extreme abuse. And it wasn’t cheap either. Many couples simply stayed married but separated, each doing whatever they wanted to avoid the high cost. Apparently, in Docia’s case, the judge must have decided that she’d gone through enough, and a divorce was granted with her estranged husband ordered to pay support for their two children.


But in society’s eyes, Docia must have been a pariah. It couldn’t have been easy for this woman to have to go back to her parent’s home with her children and start all over again. We know from family letters that Docia didn’t just sit on her laurels and let her parents pay her way. She went out “nursing,” which in the 1870s was one of the few ways a woman could make a living. Nursing consisted of traveling around the area and helping with midwife type of work, tending to the sick, elderly, etc.


The best way for Docia to get by though was to marry again. She did just that in 1874 when she married Hiram “Hi” Forbes, a trader with two former wives of his own and two children he never saw. In fact, Hi was actually still married to his second wife when he met Docia.


I’m not sure just what Hi Forbes had going for him, to be honest. He was a notorious alcoholic, he was sort of fat, with red hair and a ruddy face. But he must have had something enticing because Docia fell, and she fell hard. She fell so hard she was willing to enter into an affair with him while he was still married (though we don’t actually know if she had knowledge of the wife, to be fair) with two children he apparently abandoned. Even though she didn’t realize just HOW much he drank before the marriage, she had to have known he drank. And he wasn’t a wealthy man, he lived a nomadic lifestyle traveling around setting traps for a living.


It could only have been love that tethered Docia to Hi. That and the fact that she was constantly pregnant (they went on to have seven girls, adding to Docia’s son and daughter from her first marriage). And the fact that I’m sure Docia could not bear the thought of another divorce, another failure. She dug her heels in, straightened her back, and carried on. Just like Caroline Ingalls herself would have done.


When Docia later appears in By the Shores of Silver Lake, she is, unfortunately, painted as somewhat of a harridan. A shrill, angry, excitable wife, who berates her husband for not standing up to the railroad bosses when she thinks he should. Later in life, in letters between her niece, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, we learn that LIW “didn’t much care for Aunt Docia.” In family remembrances from Docia’s daughter and grand-daughter, we hear the family lore of how Docia and Hi tried to abandon their children two different times during their travels. Unfortunately, people have taken these few remembrances and branded them as fact.


Let’s look at this more closely, though, and try to see things in a different way.

#1 Docia, the horrible, bitchy wife: So picture this – you’re a woman in your mid-thirties. You’ve been divorced once, humiliated in society, you have two children who you worked your ass off to support as best you could in the only ways you were able to in those times. You had dreams for a perfect life with your first husband, and he shot them (literally) to hell. You finally meet another guy, and he seems great, and you fall in love, probably more in love with him than you were with your first husband. And then…you find out he’s a drunk. And that you now have to STILL work your ass off to support everyone because half the time he’s passed out. Plus, you’re pregnant, again, and again and again. Add to this that you don’t actually have a real home! No cute little house on the prairie or a stable home life like your idolized brother Charles. Nope. You live in a wagon traveling around following railroad camps, where you work your butt off, even more, to make ends meet. So you tell me, would you be a happy hausfrau? Or would you sometimes get fed up and throw a tantrum? That doesn’t make you a bitch. That makes you human.

#2 Laura Ingalls didn’t “care” for Aunt Docia. Well, Laura knew Aunt Docia when she was young, first as a child, then as a teenager. When she was a child, Aunt Docia was a “pretty aunt” at a dance, wearing a beautiful dress and plaiting her hair. That’s how Laura remembers her. She probably knew nothing at that time about Docia’s trials and tribulations. Docia was at a dance, she was pretty, she was happy, and she was looking for a husband. Fast forward to Silver Lake. Docia’s a lot older, a lot wiser, she’s probably pretty damn cynical by that time, and she’s got issues. She’s not all rosy and sunny because she’s busy dammit! She doesn’t have time to be that cuddly pretty aunt from the Big Woods; she’s not had the family life that Caroline Ingalls had with a supportive hardworking husband. She doesn’t have time for a sunny disposition. So Laura doesn’t get to see the best side of Aunt Docia, because maybe by that time, that side doesn’t exist anymore. That’s what Laura sees when she’s a teen, and that’s the memory she records many years later. Chances are she never saw Aunt Docia after Silver Lake. She barely knew her. Yet these are the impressions that we are left with, and because LIW said it, well, it must be gospel, right? Wrong. I think most people know by now that Rose Wilder Lane edited these books heavily and added her own impressions, and those impressions were heavily influenced by her mother. This is LIW and RWL’s Aunt Docia, not the real woman.

#3 Docia and Hi wanted to abandon her daughter, Lena, and son Gene so they could have their support money. Oy Vey! This is probably the hardest one to defend, and trust me I’ve thought long and hard on it. Because how can any mother do that to her children? Under what circumstances would a mother even dare think about abandoning her children? These “memories” come from Lena herself and were recorded by Lena’s daughter. As such, they are taken as gospel. And I don’t doubt that Lena told the truth as she remembered it. That at some point, twice, talk of putting Gene and Lena into a children But the problem here is not the memory. The problem is hearing only one side of it. Where is Docia’s side? My novel is fiction, as far as I know, Docia didn’t keep a journal or a diary, we have nothing of her thoughts on the matter. But we can conjecture. At the time this supposedly occurred, the family was in dire straights.

Hi was drinking, they’d had little to no work, Docia was, of course, pregnant yet again. They had no money, no food, they were starving. What mother wants to watch her children starve? Would what you do in that situation, in those times? There was no welfare in those days, no soup kitchens or homeless shelters. You had no food, you died. Period. So, it is my belief, that if Docia and Hi actually contemplated such a move, it was only to ensure the children’s survival. I don’t think they considered leaving the children permanently, I think it was always going to be a temporary thing just until they could get on their feet.

As for them doing it to get the support money – I’m not sure that would have happened. The support money was most likely ordered by the court, and the court would have overseen any distribution of funds. Had the children been put into a home, that money would have gone there, not to the parents. At some point, the court would have discovered where the support payments were going. And so what if the money had gone to Docia and Hi? I highly doubt that was their motivation for trying to give up the children as the money could not have been substantial. This was a newly married couple, with no money, a baby on the way, and two kids they couldn’t feed. They were out of options. At any rate, the children were not given up, and they went on to spend many years with their parents. If they weren’t really wanted, don’t you think they would have been dumped eventually?

Docia was a strong woman who stood up for herself and her family and did what she had to do to survive. She didn’t go about it in the same gentle way as Caroline Ingalls, but she’s no less a person for it.

I think in Laura Ladocia Ingalls Waldvogel Forbes, you can find one of the strongest women on the prairie, despite what the lore may say.

Purchase my new book Docia’s Diary, A Novel at Amazon.com for Kindle e-book. Paperback will be available soon!

The First Book I Ever Wrote

Everyone remembers the first time they wrote a book. I’m not talking about writing you publish, I’m talking about the first time you put words to paper and dared to call it a “book.” My first book was written when I was in third grade.

The assignment was, quite simply, to write a book. If I remember correctly, the entire school was taking part, and it was some kind of a contest, with each grade having a winner. I used to regularly get sick back in those days; I was a shy, nervous kid who would later be diagnosed with an ulcer at age eleven. So for some reason, I missed like a week of school right around the time the books were being finished and judged, and by the time I got back, it was over. But the teacher wanted me to complete the assignment because it was also being graded. So I set about to write my “book.”

Now here’s where I should explain how dodgy I could be as a child. I was one of those “what’s the easiest way to do this and get it over with” kind of kids. And I already knew that the winner in our grade, a red-headed boy with freckles named Patrick who I had a crush on, had written a book about a horse. So that settled it. My first book was titled, “I Want a Horse.” Pretty much to the point. The whole thing was maybe five pages long, and the “plot” was about how I wanted a horse. Period. I don’t even remember if I got the horse in the end. We had to illustrate it too, so I drew some pretty horrible pictures of what was supposed to be a horse on every page.

I didn’t win, and I can’t remember what grade I got, but it was probably my usual C-.

The book obviously sucked and wasn’t my best effort (because I put no effort into it after all), and worse, I basically plagiarized the idea from another writer. I didn’t attempt another “book” until I was eleven, which is when my “career” truly began. The book I wrote at eleven was actually my own idea, and I was excited to write it, and my friends read it and loved it. I was hooked.

I think too many times we feel like we have to write what everyone else is writing. Because those people are getting reads. But when we do that, we forget to listen to the most important person – ourselves! Trust me, if YOU are not happy with what you are writing, if you are not super passionate about the idea and especially the characters, you will end up like everyone else. And where’s the fun in that?? I don’t want to write like Danielle Steele or Jackie Collins (as if I could!) Or write that romance about that perfect girl who meets this hunky guy and does whatever they do in nearly every other book I’ve read. Or write that horror story where in the end it all works out and everyone’s happy and safe. No, I want to write the book that sounds good to ME, with an idea that speaks to me and wasn’t taken from anyone else. I want to write the story differently, show the character’s flaws, and make them HUMAN.

Don’t be afraid to take chances with your writing. Don’t just copy that boring horse story or idea from another writer because it’s been DONE a zillion times. Make your main character a bitch who likes to swear and sleep around. Make her love interest a complete jerk with a lovable side that he only shows to her. Give your married couple’s relationship FLAWS – have one of them sleep around and then be forgiven. Write about sex – yes, it does happen after all. Let your characters feel lust and anger and jealousy and sometimes let them be great big douches. It’s OKAY!

I failed big time with that first story in third grade. I didn’t try, I just wanted to get it over with, and I stole another kid’s idea. It wasn’t fun for me. The fun came later when I discovered you could write and have fun while doing it, so long as you let yourself be YOU. It’s probably one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned.

Brigid 🙂

Dealing With the Downers

**In my previous post I talked about Wattpad. For me that is not the success I would like. However, if WP is your thing and you want to succeed there, I wish you luck! This post is in regards to publishing outside of non compensated apps.***

Don’t you just love those people who like to continually tell you just how hard it is to be a successful author? I know I do! (that’s some sarcasm for you). I don’t honestly know why the first thing you hear from “successful” authors is how “hard” it is. I know many of them to want to share their tips for reaching your goal, which is awesome. What is not awesome is throwing water on someone’s dreams, along with your dose of reality.

Yes, we get it. It’s hard. It takes a lot of work and dedication, effort, and of course, good writing to make it happen. But too many times, I see phrases like, “the chance of being successful is very low” or “your book will most likely not be noticed on Amazon if you self publish.” Wow. You’re a ray of sunshine, sweetheart! I’d like to share some “reality” for those successful nay-sayers.

Here is the reality for most who self-publish:

#1 We don’t always write for phenomenal success. Gasp! Yeah, that’s right. Some of us write because we love it so much, and it’s so ingrained into our very being that if we don’t get those stories down, we can barely function. We want to publish because we LOVE our stories and want to share them. And if only one person ends up seeing that book and enjoying it aside from ourselves, well honey, then we’ve had the kind of success that really means something.

#2 Money and fame ain’t everything. Sure, who doesn’t want some cold hard cash in their pockets and for people to like and admire them? People want that, I get it. And I am not telling you I don’t want to sell books. I sure do! But personally, I am happy to be making anything. If I sell one book, I’m good. I’m being compensated for my work. That makes me happy. And when I hold that paperback in my hands, that makes me happy too. And happy is good!

#3 Don’t assume if your book isn’t selling that your writing sucks. I recently read a piece by someone who complained about all the “crap” books by self-published writers on Amazon. This from an “established” writer. Wow. Really? Let’s define “crap,” shall we? I’ve read plenty of Best Selling books that I, personally, could not finish because they didn’t do it for me. Not saying the book was crap. I’m saying that it just wasn’t my thing. The writing was not my style. We all have different styles, we all have different ways of writing. And yes, sometimes a person doesn’t have the skills to write a readable book. But crap? I don’t think anything anyone writes with a sincere effort should be called “crap.” As writers, we put our heart and soul into our stories and characters. We try our best (or should at least) to deliver the best story we can. And there will be people who don’t like it. Fine, I get it. But the question is, do YOU like it? Do you get the warm fuzzies when reading your own book? If the answer is yes, then you’ve written a decent book. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Look, we get it. No one works harder at delivering a completed book than a self-published author. Everything the traditionally published author has done for them, we do ourselves. It’s tough, no doubt about it. But don’t dash someone’s hopes and dreams just to bring attention to yourself. Self-published writers, especially, need to support one another and their efforts. Encourage, don’t discourage. There are enough critics in this world, don’t add your voice to the noise. Be a cheerleader, not a Debbie Downer.

And now I’m going to work on my next book. I happen to like it! 🙂