Wired for Story

My latest book to read is called “Wired for Story.” It is a writer’s guide to using the science of how the brain science helps hook readers in the first sentence.

We humans are wired for story, and there are countless authors out there, including myself, who are working on selling stories to others. We hope others love our stories as much as we do, and eventually see some income from selling our books. The book began with this quote from Flannery O’Connor:

“I find that most people know what a story is until they sit down to write one.”

In the second or so it took to read the sentence above, your senses had 11,000,000 bits of information to process. We miss most of it. We can only register about 40 of them, and what we process is only about seven of them. On a good day, under perfect conditions. On a bad day? Maybe five. We think in story. It’s how we envision the future. Isn’t that remarkable?

Most writers talk about things like writer’s block (usually procrastination) and other reasons (excuses) why they cannot write. I had no problem getting over 50K words down before I knew anything about writing. That’s a lot of words when you don’t know what you’re doing.

My book coach (I worked with Sam Tyler for about six months during the pandemic) really put me to thinking about the scope of the story I was trying to tell. I stripped away a lot of the story. And settled on writing one part of the story. In great detail. I’m not sure where it will end in it’s current form. That is the project I’m picking back up come November 1, 2022, for NaNoWriMo. I’m looking forward to making progress on it.

Fictional stories are best liked by the brain; they’re more interesting. That’s the best reason. A story is about our changing. That’s it. It’s not plot, setting, the protagonist, or the goal. It’s how the protagonist changes. Universal appeal is how it would feel to navigate the plot. It’s not the external journey, it’s the internal one.

This kind of book is hard for me to read anymore. Yes, I need to learn this information, but I have a time keeping my interest on the facts, ma’am, just the facts. Yawn! If I can’t figure out what’s happening in a story, I lose interest and put it in my pile I started and didn’t finish. There are a bunch of those on my Goodreads list. Probably 20 books of all kinds I just can’t get into. I feel guilty for buying books I’m not going to read. I did pick one back up and realized it was a series of short stories, not one long book about dogs. Oops! That makes a little difference.

Many folks think good writing is flowery words, adverbs and adjectives all over the place, and beautiful writing. WRONG! Great storytelling trumps everything. Make people want to keep reading, into the wee hours of the morning. Telling a great story is not equal to great writing. They’re two very separate things.

What do you do with details? They should all be on a need to know basis. If they’re not critical to the story, I need to leave them out. No one will notice them anyway. A story is interesting, highlighting key points. Maybe they don’t all happen in two hours chronologically; but they should in the story, or the action will grind to a halt and your book/story will be in the “I can’t make it through this book” pile.

If you can’t tell what’s going on, your story needs help.

If you can’t tell who the protagonist is, your story needs help.

And so on. Your story may need help in a lot of places. That’s why, I hear, the first book an author writes never sees the light of day. It never sees a beta reader, an editor, a printer, a cover designer, etc. I have one, I’d like to salvage it someday. If that is possible.

I suppose my writing coach would tell me focus was missing in this literary folly of mine. The maiden voyage, if you will. It had a point and a cast of colorful characters. Fleshing out the story, focus, and all the adventures the protagonist has will be a good way to see if this story can go anywhere. But later. Not now.

So I’ll read some more tomorrow, and share what I’m learning with you. It may help explain why you start a book, and just can’t get into it. We all have that happen. It’s tortureous to keep going when your journey is doomed, when your dopamine dries up and can’t be replenished. Get over feeling bad, and put yourself out of your misery. Have a great evening and tomorrow. We’ll see each other then.

Wacky Wednesday

Here we are, at about 8:10 p.m. We have had a whirlwind of a day. The Babe had some Post stuff to handle, so he did, and I had a doc appointment. As I said yesterday, I had a procedure done to alleviate the bad circulation in my lower legs; the valves in my veins were bad, and I had them taken care of. This forces the veins in the middle region of the leg take over, so the circulation is improved, the legs get a better blood flow, and the pain stops! All is good, the veins that are supposed to be closed off are, and the veins that are supposed to be open are working. Awesome! God has modern miracles all over the place. Grateful!

Did a couple more quilt squares today, and am hoping to get more done tomorrow. I’m getting pretty excited about it, and cannot wait to share it with you. I waited my whole life to be a grandma, and although I had step grandkids first, (and I love them to death!), I was purely happy with the Babe’s grandkids as mine, and still am. When my daughter told me she was pregnant, WOW! Now we have two more, and love all five of these kiddos.

When I think of my dad and how much he loved Becky, his only granddaughter, I get teary eyed. I want this quilt to be the best, and have it be from not only me, but also my dad. He would be so thrilled! Mom would be, too, but Dad was so enamored by Rebecca. He always called her his “Dolly.” And he meant it.

At any rate, there are many times I think “What would Dad think about . . . ” and just wish I could talk with him about things. He would love computers (and I’m sure know much more than I do about them, just reading books), and would be fascinated with communicating with them.

As much as Mom hates them, Dad would love them. And I’m sure he would master them. I’d love to see all that. He would love the Babe. He was gone for nearly 10 years when we met, but I know he would love the Babe. They would be fast friends, talking about work stuff, managing a bunch of blue collared workers, a fleet of drivers, and all the other things they both did at their jobs.

Got a lot of stuff to do tomorrow. I will share a story with all of you about an event we’re having at the VFW Post 2503 in Omaha, Nebraska. We are offering free training about PTSD and Suicide Prevention. It’s vital info in today’s world. And we are offering it for free.

I hope you have a good evening, and we’ll visit again tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

September 11, 2022

Everyone still remembers where we were that awful day in 2001. We were still enjoying the happy vibe of a family wedding on September 8, and everyone headed back to work/life on that Tuesday. Until.

Fast forward 20 + 1 years and here we are. Still at war, against an enemy that morphs itself into other forms of disguise and renames itself. It still remains the pure evil the devil himself is. It will always be with us. Always.

We attended a dinner tonight for the 50 Mile March Foundation. The money raised was distributed to Guitars for Vets, Operation 22 Until Freedom, and Moving Veterans Forward. It is inspiring to be a small part of the effort these incredible humans put forth to meet their goals of helping Veterans that are experiencing homelessness, mental illness, and other issues. We have an obligation to help these men and women assimilate back to civilian life after serving our country. We owe it to them for defending freedom.

It is late, and WordPress wouldn’t load on my Chromebook. I could only access it on my iPhone. Rather than miss a day, I typed it on the phone. Hard to do. With that, I’m going to end for the night. I hope you have a good evening. I will see you tomorrow!

The Queen.

The header photo is the cover of the next book I will read. I’ve had it for awhile, and wanted to read it. Sometimes, I think events correspond to the timing of our picking a book from our personal libraries to read. I have heard things about this incredible woman I didn’t know before. Her dedication to public service has spanned my entire lifetime. In those terms, what a very long time.

I love she did not allow for Charles to reign as king beyond his 80th birthday. I applaud Prince William will succeed his father, hopefully in my lifetime. I believe Kate will make a perfect Queen to his King.

This little meme below struck me. If it is not true, it should be. I could so see her saying this or praying this. During her incredible reign and experiences I believe she always kept God close to her heart and hand. This is how everyone used to be, back in the day.

If not true, it should be.

This tiny woman, a powerhouse of faith, believed in service above all. We should all take a lesson from her playbook. We need to be more aware of how we can serve to make the world a better place for all of us. A good lesson. We should all be so humble.

I’m going to read a little now, and just think. Sometimes that’s way better than writing more words when I’m not in the mental place to do so. Then the next day is more fruitful. You’ve probably never thought about Queens and Kings, and their impact on the world. I have a feeling this little woman, respected by many, will continue to have an influence on the world long after she is gone.

Have a nice evening, and we’ll see each other again tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

Building Bridges

Yesterday’s answers to problems is not the one to use today. Many of us tried over and over only to have the same result. Here’s an idea! How about we try a different route, a different answer, a bridge far away from the last one. Learn how to build a new one.

Get outside of yourself and make connections with like minded people. Do what it takes to get through the day. Get through a week. Get through a month of weeks with a new attitude. The people you surround yourselves with makes a difference. And guess what? They’re building a bridge, too. Maybe you can use each other’s. Sharing with new people is a great way to build new bridges. And find new ways to solve problems of today and tomorrow.

As you get through difficult stages and learn the new skills to do what you’ve never done and go where you’ve never been, you’ll gain momentum with all aspects of your life. New skills, old hobbies, things you can enjoy right now, today, in this life. Sweet, isn’t it? The air is fresher, the view is vast, the possibilities are endless.

I have met a lot of great people in the past five years or so. We’re blessed with new possibilities ahead and the new connections we make. Many of us have done nothing but disconnect from each other to be safe. The best of everything, success, growth, love, and connection happen on the bridges we build between people. Be a connector. Be a bridge builder. You just might find your calling yet. I did.

We cannot do everything we need to do at once. We can do one thing first. And another second. It’s how we build a bridge to each other. It’s hard when we’re not used to it, or if we only believe we’ll fail. But, my dear, what if you succeed! Try more new things, and see what happens. If it doesn’t work this way try that way. Pretty soon, you’ll be an old pro.

It’s dark outside already, and it’s only a little after 8 p.m. Time to wrap it up for the evening. Hope you have a pleasant evening and we’ll see you tomorrow.

Hump Day Rolling Around Again!

With no Monday this week, it’s going pretty fast, isn’t it? The week there is a holiday, we have no Hamburger Night at the VFW Post 2503 on Wednesday. Sometimes we meet for drinks anyway, but we have a meeting tomorrow, so we’ll just skip tonight and meet tomorrow. We’re less involved every day and I’m finding good things to do with my time. Still working slowly on the quilt blocks, and finishing a couple of smaller reading projects.

We had a nice visit this morning on the deck, with our morning coffee. I swear, I cannot say enough how beautiful this spot is, how serene the surroundings are, and how mood altering it all is. It helps shake the aches and pains of early morning for two folks in their early seventies. It puts hope in my soul, and a spring in my step.

The other thing that amazes me is how fast the time goes and how far away my imagination and thoughts go while I’m gluing the edges of the fabric down to the shapes. I listen to music (how funny!), and today the lyrics of some old Glen Campbell songs struck me as odd.

All of the love song were really break-up songs. Many of the man being “just a man” who is unable to stay with a woman. Women were still considered to be part of a man’s possessions, and many times, the man just didn’t want to take responsibility for this particular possession. I found this disturbing. That, and when the woman would leave him waiting days on end and never coming home. No wonder some of us grew up with totally wrong ideas about relationships. Thinking breaking up and making up was expected or usual is a bit off how it should be. And never, ever, should boys hurting girls when they’re young be interpreted as “he likes you!” Love doesn’t hurt. If it does, leave. Immediately!

Thank goodness things have changed for the better. Women are no longer possessions, as a couch would be. Women can take care of themselves, and don’t really need a man for financial gains. No longer do women need to “marry well.” The Babe and I married to grow old together with a companion we could trust. We’re knocking that out of the park.

Thank goodness the world has changed from when those lyrics were written and sung. There was one song I never cared for at all. You Tube it and you’ll see what I mean. It’s horrible. “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife.” Gosh, I’m so blessed to have not lived like this for my whole life. It could have happened. Blessed. Grateful.

Tomorrow will be another day of therapy for Mom. Hoping it’s a great evening for you and an inspiring morning for you. See you tomorrow!

Experience the Reality of Life

Do you know anyone who believes life is one problem after another, with little time for enjoyment? I believe we all do. “Born under a bad sign,” is one way to put it. There is a lot of good in the world whether we see it or not.

Struggle is a huge part of life. It is not the only thing, though. Yes, we’ve all hard very hard periods of time, and then good comes to stay. It’s relative. As I’ve said before, we need to remain positive to be positive, and concentrate on that instead of the negative things that occur once in awhile. I believe good outweighs evil, and I believe it will win in the end.

This morning, I was gluing my quilt block pieces, and Goldie wanted to play catch. She gave me a sad look with those big brown eyes, and I was powerless to deny her. As soon as I stepped on the deck, the beautiful day smacked me awake and I was in awe of the pure, blue sky. Goldie knew what she was doing. It was just the break I needed. The sky was a glorious sight; it was easy to go back to working on my quilt blocks after that sight.

Today still had many, many errands, the Babe had an eye doctor appointment, and we met for pizza. Groceries, then dropping some donations for Moving Veterans Forward. The day seems over before it was started, really. Tomorrow will see more quilt block gluing and deciding how to begin sewing those pieces down. I’m getting excited about sewing on my new sewing machine for the first time, finally.

We have another day at home tomorrow, and hope to see our friends at the VFW in the late afternoon. The rest of the week will be filled with planning how to finish up the 2022 yard work and cleanup of the shed/garage/patio/basement storage. There is so much to be grateful for, making us positive in this life. I hope the same for my friends and this family of followers. See you tomorrow!

Happy Birthday, Part 2

Here is a photo of Mom yesterday, last evening to be specific, enjoying the spoils of the day. It was really neat, many of our childhood neighbor kids commented on my post and wished her happy birthday. Thank you all, that was cool!

Today was very busy, I cut and glued two more quilt blocks, hope to do another two tomorrow. I need to step it up to make sure those darling grandkids of mine have their quilts for Christmas. Lots of time, and we’ll get that book laid out, too. I’ll be so glad for fall to arrive. I’m ready for it.

I’m deeper into the Gary Sinise novel “Grateful American.” I think he is a good story teller. He describes the feelings surrounding September 11, 2001, the uncertainty, and the appreciation most had for First Responders and the Military. He actually called the USO many times to see if he could go on a show tour. Finally, they agreed, and there he went.

He describes the sounds, the smell, the feeling of sand pelting you from every direction, and what it was like to see the troops, the lines of men and women surrounding them when they walked from the cargo plane or helicopter to the building where they would meet and greet or perform. It was truly heart warming. It was full of respect, honor, and gratitude. I would suggest we all read this sooner than later.

In addition to the usual juggling of two careers, three kids, and traveling actors, Sinise also discussed his wife’s alcoholism and what it did to their family. He described the in and out of treatments centers dance they did, and the broken promises, the peaks and valleys of the relationship, and finally, the plea of the oldest little girl to “please, just let me be a kid.” It took every bit of tough love he could muster, and finally, finally it began a new life for them. Every day is still up for grabs, there are no guaranteed once a person quits drinking.

Much of life is unpredictable. From day to day, no one really knows what they may face ball tomorrow. We all have to try our best, be good citizens, and hold on to our convictions. We have to be resilient, should our situations change through no fault of our own, we need to be able to execute Plan B. Sometimes in my life, I’ve been down to Plan ZZ! It becomes laughable when I recall some of the outlandish things the kids and I worked through. And that’s a whole different blog.

I hope you all have a good rest of the evening, maybe with a dish or bowl of ice cream. It’s a favorite dessert, perfect for a humid summer night. Tomorrow is another Saturday but a special one – a Nebraska Cornhusker football game in Ireland, against Northwestern. It should make for some good TV. A lot of fans from Nebraska traveled to the Emerald Isle. I bet it’s beautiful.

Read a book this weekend, watch a Netflix series with a good storyline. Make sure you pay attention to character development and plot twists. It’s fun to have a different way to look at a movie, tv show, or Netflix series. I will see you tomorrow.

Being Called Sensitive for Reacting

to Disrespect is Manipulation. You bet it is!

I have learned a new strength in the last couple of years. If someone is disrespecting me, I let them know I will not accept that behavior again. I may not raise a fuss and yell in a crowd, but I will let it be known their bad behavior is not acceptable to me. And I will not tolerate it again.

It may not sound like a big deal to someone who has always stood up for themselves, but for me, the quintessential people-pleaser good girl, it’s huge. Really. I’m just glad I learned before it’s too late.

I have found my voice, and it’s strong. “You will not do this to me again.” I’m perfectly even tempered, even though they try to put words in my mouth, “you said this in anger.” Nope. I didn’t. I don’t need to be told what I was feeling or anything. I mean what I say. Once it’s out, it’s part of my truth. Don’t insult me by telling me I don’t mean it. It’s a boundary. Don’t cross it again.

Today was a personal connection day. The Babe had a rare day off, and we languished over coffee and breakfast, barely got ready for the day and it was time to meet our friend Don for lunch. It was good. His wife passed from ALS and he lost a favorite brother-in-law the following week. How hard! All we can do is listen, and we recalled some fun things. He recounted all the things you have to change legally when you lose your spouse. There are a lot of things, and it might be a good idea if there was a hit list for surviving spouses. I feel badly for the women and men who don’t have a clue how to do all these things. Believe it or not, there are a lot, of both women and men.

As I get further into Gary Sinise’s book, “Grateful American,” I am more amazed at his path in his career and his personal growth than I was before. As he tries directing, acting, producing, stage acting, more directing, and finally lands in movie acting, he is cast as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump. What a perfect part. He describes the training the actors had for the war scenes. It was pretty in-depth. I’m approaching the part I’m most interested in, and that’s how he started to help Veterans. It is a good book.

Speaking of helping Veterans, the 50 Mile March raised over $240,000 last count I saw. That is incredible. The people of Nebraska are so generous, especially when it comes to Veterans and First Responders. Thank you, folks. Your money will support Veterans with needs that are not being met. Until now.

Thank you for reading. We are holding at 958 subscribers who receive an email each time we publish a blog. I’m shooting for 1,000 followers as we are now over 1,100 blogs published. I appreciate you following so much. We’ll be having more adventures in the coming months. Thanks for going on this journey with me! See you tomorrow.

The Smartest Word We Can Say

Are “Help Me!”

It definitely doesn’t mean we’re needy. I was raised in a “Do it yourself, you can’t rely on anyone!” kind of environment. When I was a single Mom, I did a lot on my own. At that point in my life, I was angry and didn’t trust anyone to stick around. I was looking for love in the wrong places as the song goes. Nothing was permanent. My kids and I were a great family, we were close, and had a lot of wonderful times. We also had hard times. When the car broke down or we needed a plumber, it was tight. Back then, the local plumber my folks used billed you 30 days later. A Godsend!

The kids and I learned a lot about dry walling, privacy fence installation, and a lot of other things. I was lucky the boys did the lawn without being shamed into doing it; they actually enjoyed it. One time, they tried to make a mowing pattern like they saw at Wrigley Field during the televised Cubs games. Great memories.

If I were to be honest with myself, I was devastated the person I thought would love me forever didn’t understand anything about me, the kids, or the life I thought we were building. It just didn’t matter to him. A lot of relationships end when one person refuses to grow and the other is held down. Sometimes you need to end something in order to become who you were meant to be.

It was the discomfort I felt during that time that urged me to change my life. I had to. I asked for help from professionals who knew what they were doing. It was the biggest risk I’d taken. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about creating opportunities and being honest with myself. I do know enough to lead my life, make my decisions, and enjoy the consequences or learn from my failures.

Honesty is what you learn when you ask for help. I had to be honest, Ken and Barbie were not happy as everyone thought. I’d also grown up in a house where we don’t tell people our business, and we especially don’t tell our father. As I’ve watched a close friend of mine bare her soul of her struggle with PTSDc, I’ve felt challenged to tell the truths I have, the ones that are close to my heart. I’m amazed at how people relate, and say, “I felt that way, too.” Or “I never realized how miserable you were.”

Many times we’re the guy or gal at the end of the rope being pulled to safety in the Coast Guard helicopter. Sometimes, we’re the pilot, helping someone else. I believe this is what we’re here for.

The Babe and I saw this action yesterday, at the end of the 50 Mile March. It got us in the feels for sure. Our friends from 50 Mile March, (Jay Miralles), Moving Veterans Forward, (Ron Hernandez), and Guitars for Vets (Taylor Frye Ullom), were feeling the effects of walking 50 miles in 22 hours. They are battered, beyond tired, blistered, and beginning to plan next year already.

Being part of the ones who battle the 22 a Day statistic humbles us. All we can do is gain information about suicide and learn it is not shameful. People are often at the point of no return and they’re afraid for whatever reason to ask for help. In September, the VFW Post 2503 in Omaha is hosting an afternoon of discussion and training on “Talk Saves Lives.” I’ll share the information soon. If you will be in Omaha on Sunday, September 25 from Noon – 4 p.m., you may be interested.

Today is a warmer day, and in the sun it’s hot. It’s supposed to do that all week, then cool again. Such is early fall in Nebraska. Take care today. Offer to help someone without them asking. Simply holding the door is fine. It all helps. See you tomorrow!