Important Announcement!

I just discovered that some of the information I relied on for research while writing my book Docia’s Diary is false! Because I want to publish the best book possible I have made the difficult decision to un-publish the ebook and to halt publication of the paperback until this can be rectified.

I am working with an amazing Ingalls family researcher, John Bass. John has the best records of accurate information in this field and has spent over 30 years collecting, researching and sharing his amazing work. I am so grateful to be working with John in this endeavor. Thank you John!!!!

Please keep following this blog for updates, I promise the book will get done and out there eventually!

Thank you for your patience and understanding!

Brigid 🙂

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Publishing Can Be a Drag

I’ve just been feeling “off” lately. Life is busy and it’s sad right now and fraught with lots of bad news and crappy vibes and people doing horrible things. And that is definitely part of it. But that’s not what’s really had me down.

Lately I’ve had to do my “chores”. My Publishing chores. If you’re a self published writer, then you know all about these “chores”. This is the stuff you gotta do, the business stuff, the letters and the queries and the promoting of your work. And I’m not gonna lie. It’s a drag.

I’m not a business person, not one bit. I don’t enjoy this part but I know it comes hand in hand with self publishing. I’d rather be writing. That’s the reason for my current funk. I’ve spent very little time writing and a whole lot of time promoting my book “Docia’s Diary”. I want it to get seen and read and shared, so I have to do these little things that traditionally published authors take for granted. There is no team editing my books or proof reading or playing around with layouts. There is no media department writing press releases and a sales department getting book sellers to stock my books. That’s all me. And I pretty much suck at it but I do the best I can.

Today I’d finally had enough of the business side of things and I WROTE. I finished a manuscript I’ve been struggling with for months and I felt so GOOD! Like a jolt of creative electricity had shot right through my heart and my mind. I realized THIS is what’s important. The writing. All that other stuff can get done or not done, whatever. But the writing, for me, HAS to happen. Whether it gets published or not, read by many or read by only me, it must happen. Because I could no longer stop writing than I could stop breathing.

So thank you, my creative subconscious, for reminding this girl why she still exists in this crazy world and just what her purpose is. I’ll try not to forget it!

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

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?

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.

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 🙂