When children complain show them this…

Another good one from Mr. Ape.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Whoever said history was boring

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“They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot. Once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery.
If you had to do this to survive, you were ‘piss poor.’
But worse than that were the really poor folks who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot. They ‘didn’t have a pot to piss in’ and were considered the lowest of the low.”

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“Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June.
However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.”

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“Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water.
The man of the house had the privilege of the…

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Guest Post by Andrew Joyce

Nutsrok

I recently got acquainted with Andrew Joyce when he helped me on a project. He is an accomplished writer and fascinating personality. If this weren’t enough, he is incredibly knowledgeable about the writing and publishing field. His generosity in helping a novice was impressive. I am so grateful I got to know Andrew. If you haven’t been introduced to his work, this is your chance. I just finished Resolution, a novel about the adventures of the mature Huckleberry Finn. I enjoyed every word. It is fast-paced, well-developed, and true to the character of Mark Twain’s Huck Finn. Though this is the third of a series, the story stood on its own. I will be getting the first two.

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The Best Writing Advice You’ll Ever Get

There is one bit of advice that I have for aspiring authors. And that is, if you want to write well, you must read. Reading…

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On Radical Acceptance (& Not Fixing Your Kid)

If only we all could be this evolved. Reading this makes me ashamed of myself.

Star In Her Eye

There’s a small town in Belgium named Geel (pronounced hale with a throaty, Germanic H). By 1930, a quarter of its residents were mentally ill. If you know about Geel, you know this was not because something lurked in the water or food supply. It was because for 700 years families in Geel accepted mentally ill patients, or “boarders,” to live with them in their own homes. The town got a nickname: “Paradise for the Insane.”

I’ve never been to Geel, but I recently heard about it on NPR’s Invisibilia podcast. In the episode, reporter Lulu Miller interviews Ellen Baxter, a researcher who earned a grant to live in Geel for a year. Prior to this trip, Baxter had faked her way into a mental institution, wanting to find out about the therapeutic practices used. She saw virtually none. What she did see: people watching television, looking out the…

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An Interview on Smashwords with Andrew Joyce

Andrew ll

Interview with Andrew Joyce

What motivated you to start writing?
One morning, about five years ago, I went crazy. I got out of bed, went downstairs, and threw my TV out the window. Then I sat down at the computer and wrote my first short story. I threw it up on the Internet just for the hell of it, and a few months later I was notified that it was to be included in an anthology of the best short stories of 2011. I even got paid for it! I’ve been writing ever since.
Since your latest novel is a historical adventure featuring some infamous literary characters, have you always had an interest in history and/or classic American literature?
Yes, I have always loved to read about history, and I think I’ve read most of the classics—American and otherwise.
How many hours of research were involved in the writing of “Resolution: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure”.
I don’t measure research in hours. Depending on the book, it could be months or years. The book I am currently working on took about a year of research. Resolution took about three months.
I have not yet had the opportunity to read your novel, but from the description I see it is based in Canada’s Yukon Territory during the time of the gold rush. Yet… when reading some reviews of the novel many reviewers mention Alaska. Are they incorrect? Does this annoy you?
The novel starts off in Colorado, progresses to Alaska, then to the Yukon, and then back to Alaska. It ends up in Montana. But to answer your question: If someone is kind enough to buy the result of my labors and then take the time to leave a review, anything they say is fine with me.
Do you always have a full story mapped out from beginning to end before you start writing?
I usually sit down to write a book with no idea where my characters will lead me. I start out with (I hope) a killer first sentence and the last paragraph of the book. Then I set out to fill the in-between space with 100,000 words. I find that the easy part. Sometimes I will bring my characters to a certain place, only to have them rebel when we get there. They tell me they want to go somewhere else and take off on their own. I have no choice but to follow.
Writers are also avid readers. What type of book do you like to read for pleasure?
I love to read Steinbeck, Jack London, or Beryl Markham when I want to experience beautiful writing. When I just want to sit down with a book and read it in one sitting then Lee Child or Baldacci will do (I can’t put their stuff down).
Do you want your novels to simply entertain readers, or are they meant to didactic in nature?
My mission, first and foremost, is to entertain. I tend to be a bit didactic on occasion, but the message is always embedded between the lines. Some people pick up on it, some don’t. But my job is to keep people turning pages.
Have you got any advice for those budding writers out there?
Read, read . . . and then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on! Reading to a writer is as medical school is to a doctor, as physical training is to an athlete, as breathing is to life.

Published 2016-07-02.

Note: These questions were originally asked by Lynne over at https://fictionophile.wordpress.com/2016/07/02/guest-post-interview-with-novelist-andrew-joyce/

Check her out. Her blog is sensational.

Resolution: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure

Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 95,900. Language: English. Published: April 13, 2016. Categories:Fiction » Adventure » Action, Fiction » Historical » Canada
They had come to that neck of the woods seeking adventure. Someone should have warned them, “Be careful what you wish for.” When disaster strikes, Huck and Molly volunteer to save the day by making an arduous six hundred mile journey by dog sled in the depths of a Yukon winter. They cannot stop. They cannot turn back. They can only go on. Lives hang in the balance—including theirs.

A Conversation with a Friend

Jesus

I was hanging out the other night at the Tiki Hut, minding my own business, when a voice behind me said, “Hey man, what’s up?”

I should first explain that the Tiki Hut is an edifice here at the marina where I live. The denizens of said marina congregate there on occasion to commune with one another. I, on the other hand, avoid it like the plague. It’s not that I don’t like people, it’s just that I don’t like being around people, but that particular evening I had the place to myself.

I turned around, and standing there was this dude I had never seen before, although he did look kind of familiar.

“Hello,” I said in response. I was a little perturbed at having my solitude interrupted, but decided not to be rude. “Are you new here?” I asked in a friendly manner.

“Somewhat.”

I mentally shrugged. I didn’t care one way or the other, I was being polite. Well, I had done my part and started to head back to my boat. I had a six-pack of cold beers waiting for me and I thought it about time I paid it some attention.

“Want a beer?”

It was the dude. He was holding a plastic grocery bag that I had not noticed before. It definitely had the outline of a six-pack. Figuring the guy might be lonely, and thinking I might as well do my Christian duty, I said, “Sure, why not?” I would have a beer and we’d shoot the shit and then I’d get the hell out of there. I reckoned I could put up with him for the time it would take to drink one beer.

He reached into the bag and came out with two bottles of my favorite beer. Things were looking up. He did the honors of popping the caps and we both took a long pull of that cold, good-tasting beverage.

“So,” I said, “you moving in?”

“I’m thinking about it. I wanted to get a feel for the place first. Do you like living here?”

“It’s okay. As long as you pay your rent on time, they leave you alone.”

I’ll not bore you with the rest of the mundane conversation. That first beer led to a second and then a third. I was starting to warm up to the guy by the fourth. Then it dawned on me. We both had had four beers, but we started out with only one six-pack. When I mentioned that fact, he said, “No, you must be mistaken. There were two six-packs in the bag.”

Another mental shrug on my part.

As I popped the cap on my fifth beer, he asked me, “So, what do you think of the state the world is in?”

If I had been asked that question on the first or second or even the third beer, I would have bolted. I don’t get into conversations like that. Truth be known, I generally don’t get into conversations at all. I live alone and I like it that way. I don’t have to please anyone and I sure as hell don’t have to answer stupid questions. But . . . I was on my fifth beer and the guy was buying. So, what the hell?

“It depends on what world you are talking about. My little world is doing just fine. I eat every day. And when it rains, I’m dry. What more could a man ask for?”

He nodded, but said nothing. Fueled by Guinness Stout, I went on.

“Now, if you’re asking about the world in general, I would have to say that for the majority of the people in it, the place is a shit-hole. Wouldn’t you say so?”

“I would say that the vast majority of the people on this planet are living the lives that they want to live.”

Now the guy was pissing me off. Being of Irish descent and having four and a half Guinnesses in me got me up on my soap box.

“Do you believe in God?” I asked with a drunken sneer.

“I have heard of Him, but I don’t know if I believe in Him.”

“Well, if God is real, how can he let the suffering go on? How can he allow a baby to get cancer? How can the son-of-a-bitch let the world get into the mess that it is in today?”

“Good questions, my friend. Very good questions.”

“Don’t patronize me, and hand me another of those goddamn beers.”

I was in rare form.

When I had been placated with my sixth beer (but who’s counting?), my new-found friend went on.

“Many people feel as you do. They use the same argument. ‘If there is a God, how can He allow the suffering?’ I think the answer is that there is no God. There is only the Oneness. There is only us. Perhaps we are all God. And if we are God, how could we allow ourselves to suffer?”

That was it for me. Free beer or not, I was out of there. The guy was crazy. But first I would finish my beer . . . just to be polite.

Then he went on.

“It’s a shame that we don’t believe in reincarnation because that would explain many things. If reincarnation was for real that would mean souls exist before birth. It might even mean that we choose our lives. That life is not a crap shoot.”

I was thinking, “You’re a crap shoot!”

“Do you know that physicists have proven, mathematically at least, that there is no such thing as time and that we are living in a hologram? And if that is so, then what does anything matter? Look at it this way. We live in a dimension known as space-time. You cannot have one without the other. You cannot have time without space and you cannot have space without time. Right?”

“If you say so. How about another beer?” We were now into the third six-pack that wasn’t there. But what the fuck?

“Think of it this way. Space-time is a manifestation only of the physical plane. Off the physical plane, there is no space-time by definition. Correct?”

“Please stop asking me to confirm what you are saying. I’ll admit it makes sense . . . so far. So, I’ll sit here and listen to you as long as that magic bag keeps popping out Guinnesses.”

“Okay. Now visualize this. If you were to look into a dimension of time-space from a dimension of non-time-space, meaning a non-physical universe, what would you see?”

“Your momma!”

He smiled at me with such forbearance that I felt ashamed at having made such a flippant remark. And I sobered up instantly. “I’m sorry I said that. Please go on.”

“I take no offense and I assure you, ‘my momma’ takes no offense.”

I pushed my half-finished beer aside and waited. He didn’t seem drunk, yet he had had as many beers as I had. He took another deep swallow of his Guinness and continued.

“What you would see is all time happening at once. That is what you would see. Now, here’s my point. If all time happens at once and we are living in a hologram—a false reality if you will. And if we pre-exist before we are born, and if we know the lives we are going to live, and if there is no time, which means the duration of our lives are as one-millionth of the time it takes to blink an eye, then how are we harmed?”

A good question to which I had no answer. But I had to ask, “Who the hell are you?”

“I’ve been known by many names over many lives. My time on the space-time plane is over. I just come to visit once in a while because that’s what I do. I am a teacher. Sometimes to the multitudes, sometimes to just one lonely man thinking of drinking a beer by himself. In my last incarnation, I was known as Jesus Bar Joseph, or Jesus, Son of Joseph. In parting, let me say this. There is no God. There is only the Oneness and we are all fragments of that Oneness, playing out our existence. Working our way back to the Oneness where we will be reunited. There is no hell and there is no heaven. There is no loss, there is only us. Peace be with you, my friend.”

Then he glowed with such intensity that I had to cover my eyes. The brilliance was filled with love. I have never felt such love. I have never been so loved. It was all I could do not break down and cry right there on the spot.

Then he was gone.

Now I sit here pondering his words. If we are all One, then hiding from my neighbors might not be such a smart thing. I think I’ll invite that nice young couple who live a few boats over for a Sunday brunch. If I can make it through that, perhaps I’ll visit the Tiki Hut a little more often.

You never know who you might meet there.

Orlando, Please Understand.

the ramblings

In the days and months following my father’s 2014 murder I heard one phrase uttered time and time again: Please understand. The killer’s probation officer who failed to stamp a piece of paper  in time, a police force who let an active arrest warrant sit meaningless on a desk, a District Attorney who didn’t want to waste the money on a trial and a life sentence if he could get a quick plea deal, the Department of Corrections who relocated the killer to a low security facility right by my house, the friends and relatives nearby and far away who were uncomfortable being around us death-kissed daughters and so kept a safe, comfortable distance: “Please, understand.” They told us newly shattered to understand that justice is a business, and though faulty they followed protocol, and prison placement has to take into account the criminal’s rights and program needs, and…

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