Episode 12 – Powerful Writing: Helping Others Share Their Stories with Keri Wyatt Kent
This week’s Unstoppable Mindset episode is especially exciting not only because of our guest, Keri Wyatt Kent and her story of writing and author endeavors, but Keri also brings us a special announcement. Keri has been an author for many years writing a number of Christian oriented books. While she will discuss her work in the writing world she also announces a special new project. If you listen to this week’s episode you will be the first to learn about a new project Keri has begun, a project in which you may want to directly participate. Listen in to hear all the news.
Some directories do not show full show notes. For the complete transcription please visit https://michaelhingson.com/podcast
About our Guest:
Keri Wyatt Kent has been writing since childhood, and made a living at it since she graduated from college. She began her career as a newspaper reporter, then started her own writing and editing business at age 30. She had her first book published five years later. She’s since had 11 books traditionally published, has self-published several of her own books, and has co-written more than a dozen titles as well. She recently self-published an Advent devotional, The Gift of Christmas Present. She and her husband Scot have been married for 30 years and have two grown children.
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Michael Hingson 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:24
Well, hello again, this is Mike Hingson. Welcome to another Unstoppable Mindset episode. Thanks for dropping in and being with us, and we hope that you will enjoy this one. I have an interesting guest today. I think she’s interesting. I’m a little bit prejudiced. And you will learn why as we go through the episode. But let’s just say at the outset, it has a little bit to do with a new book that we’re beginning to write. Keri Wyatt Kent has been an author for a long time, she has a very interesting career. I met her earlier this year, and felt that she would be a very interesting person to have on our podcast for you to get to meet and to get to know. And you may find her story fascinating and want to reach out to her if you have ideas of writing a book or want to learn something more about being an author Kerri, welcome to unstoppable mindset.
Keri Wyatt Kent 02:16
Mike, it is so good to be with you.
Michael Hingson 02:20
So tell me just a little bit about your life in general. I mean, obviously, you grew up and so on. But tell me just a little bit about you.
Keri Wyatt Kent 02:29
Well, I’ve been a writer since college, I graduated college and began writing right away as a newspaper reporter. I’m, I live in the Chicago area. And I have two grown kids and a husband that I’ve been married to for 30 years, I’ve written 11 books, traditionally published and done a bunch of other collaborative books and self published titles. So my work is writing to do it. I’ve been doing it for years and raising a family and some.
Michael Hingson 03:02
So that’s what I do. What got you started in writing.
Keri Wyatt Kent 03:05
So as I said, when I was in college, I was a part of the student newspaper, and then right away got a job out of college, working as a newspaper reporter. And it is, it’s a great training ground. For learning how to write you have to learn how to write quickly, you have to summarize sort of complicated things in a in a short amount of space. As far as the amount of number of paragraphs, you have to tell a story. But I think one of the things I learned from that beginning, Mike was that knowing which details you need to leave in, but also what you need to leave out. A lot of people want to write, but they don’t know what to leave out. You don’t have to tell everything you know, in whatever you’re writing, whether it’s an article, blog posts a book, you have to be focused and being a newspaper reporter really helped me learn that.
Michael Hingson 04:10
What is it that people like? In the writing of a newspaper reporter? What do they want to see? And what do they not want to see? What makes a good reporter in a newspaper environment, a good reporter?
Keri Wyatt Kent 04:22
You know, one of the things that I learned was to be a bold interviewer, to ask hard questions probe a little deeper. And today, you know, interviewing is one of my strengths. And it’s a key part of my work as a collaborative writer. People want to know the facts, and they want to know how it impacts them. And that’s true, not only in newspapers, I think that’s true everywhere. When a lot of people write a book and they want to write this is my thoughts and this is my stuff and my story. But a good book will tell the writer story, but then connect it with the reader. And I think Being in, in newspapers for quite a while before, at the beginning, my career really helps me to remember why. What’s the so what of what I’m writing? Why does it matter to my reader?
Michael Hingson 05:15
What was your favorite newspaper interview, something that you really liked that stands out in your mind that you did where you were really successful.
Keri Wyatt Kent 05:25
You know, I remember doing a story about a group at my church that and I was able to write about them. In the newspaper, they went on a mission trip, and they met a family and a little boy who needed heart surgery of some kind, and he couldn’t get it in the, you know, rural area of a developing country where he lived. And they were able to bring him to Chicago to Children’s Hospital to get the surgery, and, you know, changed his life. And, you know, went back to his family, of course, but, but the story of how this woman decided to get involved and help this child, it was, it was really a cool story. And I remember, you know, talking to her about her decision to help somebody else, you know, and to, you know, she didn’t just go down and like, you know, help out in this community for a week or so she got involved with this kid and his family, and, and they, you know, a lot about trust, you know, because the boy’s mother had to let him, you know, go with these people to get the surgery he needed. It was a pretty cool story. I thought that was one of my favorites.
Michael Hingson 06:39
Well, so do you do any writing for newspapers today?
Keri Wyatt Kent 06:45
I do not write for newspapers today. But I’ve over the years, because newspapers have kind of changed, you know, it’s the publishing industry has changed dramatically over the last several decades. So I do write for magazines, I write for websites, I, I have other writing avenues that I that I write for now, most of my work these days is, is in books, because I have that opportunity. But I often am asked to write for a magazine or a website. And so I do a lot of that. So you know, it’s interesting, because I think one of the, one of the things that has allowed me to keep on to have a career over several decades of writing is adapting to change. And that is, I think, a lot of times people have trouble adapting to change because they get scared. Their fear keeps them from, they want things to stay the same. And they’re, they’re scared of doing something new. And I’ve just tried to adapt, you know, I’ve written magazine articles I, you know, written social media stuff, all kinds of different things. And you just have to see the change as opportunity, rather than being afraid of it. And so, when we see change as opportunity, then we have are motivated to innovate,
Michael Hingson 08:23
motivated to innovate, interesting way to put it in makes a lot of sense. We certainly live in a world right now, where there is a lot of demand to adapt to change for all of us.
Keri Wyatt Kent 08:33
For sure, right? Everything has turned upside down with the pandemic. And just there’s a lot that’s changed. And my industry keeps changing the publishing industry. You know, when I was a reporter, that Job had lots of promise and possibility today, that small newspapers that, you know, used to serve small towns are just thought, and it’s a lot harder to become a reporter, and there’s less. It’s more competitive to make it in that industry. When I first published my first book, there were a lot less emphasis on authors needing a platform or a huge audience in order to get a publishing contract. And that industry is continually changing. And so writing requires sort of ongoing reinvention. And I think in in these times, everybody is having to sort of be willing to adapt to change the way kids go to school these days, the way people go to work these days, you know, the economic opportunities, everything has changed. And so when we are willing to adapt, we can thrive. It’s it’s just, we can’t thrive when we expect things to stay the same.
Michael Hingson 09:53
How did you transition from being a newspaper reporter to writing books? Why Why did you switch How’d that all come about? There must be a story there.
Keri Wyatt Kent 10:03
Yes, yes. So I was a newspaper reporter, it’s a demanding job, a lot of times you are working late you’re covering, I was at a paper with it covered local government meetings, which are, you know, at eight o’clock at night, and. And in fact, you know, if something happens, like, you know, go to war, or there’s a, at one point, I remember, as a newspaper reporter, there was a shooting in our quiet little suburb, which was big news. And on the Sunday, when I was having some people over to my house, my editor was calling me saying, You got to come in and help us with this story. It’s a big story. So it’s an all consuming sort of, sort of job. And when I decided my husband, and I decided we wanted to start a family, I thought I want to have I want to have a little more control over my schedule than newspaper reporting gives me so I started doing freelance writing. And at first I was doing kind of a lot of magazine articles. I wrote for places where I had connections, including construction marketing today, and roads and bridges magazine. Because I knew that there were opportunity, I knew that some people who worked in those particular magazines, I had connections there. But eventually I decided to write a book because I had questions. My first book was called God’s whisper in a mother’s chaos. And I wrote it when my kids were one and three, which didn’t give me a lot of writing time, because more than three year olds are demanding, and time consuming. But I wrote about my experiences as a mom. And the question was, what happened to my life, I had it all figured out on the all my ducks in a row, everything was great. And then these two little people invaded my life, and I couldn’t even you know, get anything done. And where was God in the midst of that? Because I had said, Well, my relationship with God should look like this, it should get up and heavy, you know, quiet time and do certain things and volunteer a lot of my time at church, all these things that I were harder to do. And I tried to address the questions that I was wrestling with, because I thought again, with my reader, other people might be asking those same questions. And so that is, that was kind of the beginning of the journey of writing books.
Michael Hingson 12:51
So what kind of books primarily have you been writing from the beginning, and how it’s evolved?
Keri Wyatt Kent 12:58
So that first book was published by University Press, and then I did another book with them. A lot of my books are that, about that intersection of, of living our faith, and real life, not being idealistic, or, you know, fluffy about it, you know, really talking about the struggle and the the challenges of everyday life and how our faith fits into that. So in the publishers category is they call it Christian living. But I think my particular focus was integrating your faith with real life. A, several of my books talk about the importance of taking a Sabbath slowing down living at a pace that allows us to consider things of faith, as sometimes we get so rushed, and we get so busy, that we miss out on being able to really experience God’s love and God’s presence. And so that’s been a big part of the stuff that I write about. I write about pace of life, I write about slowing down, I write about kind of choosing to take your time to really connect with God in a deeper way. And so that’s been the main focus of my writing of my own books. I also started helping pastors and a couple pastors who had content they wanted to write a book about and they needed a collaborative writer, they needed somebody to help them. From there. I started helping not only pastors, but like business people, and other people who had booked ideas, but didn’t, couldn’t do it on their own. Really. They needed a writer. They had great ideas. They did not I have writing skills. And so we brought their ideas and, and my writing skills together and so that I could collaborate with them and help them to write a book. So that’s been in the past several years that’s been my focus is helping other people tell their story.
Michael Hingson 15:16
I have to ask, what was your first book called?
Keri Wyatt Kent 15:20
My first book that I wrote? Hmm, God’s whisper in a mother’s chaos.
Michael Hingson 15:26
Wow. And so was that more of? Well, not necessarily a memoir, but was I would assume there’s some biographical parts to that.
Keri Wyatt Kent 15:38
Absolutely. One of my writing colleagues called memoir ish. It’s not it, it offered people some teaching, I would say, but it was mostly the story of my me and my kids, and the things I was learning in the midst of that. So yeah, talk about my kids. And my life as a mom, my, my own thoughts and struggles with my faith. And at the time, Mike, there were books for Christian moms, but most of them were written by people who were sort of past the stage of parenting, right. But they were, you know, maybe their kids had gone off to college. And they thought, now I’ll write my book. I wrote it when my kids were little. And so and I was, like, I wrote about the fact, you know, I wrote telling people, yeah, my daughter’s crying, my son’s crying, I sit down on the stairs and just start crying. And because we’re all crying, because it’s just so stressful, you know, I can’t figure out how to help them. Not try. And, and that at the time, like these days, people, blog people, you know, do podcasts, and they’re extremely honest about their own struggles. At the time, especially within Christian publishing, that was not what most people did. And so my book was a little bit unusual, in that it was written in the midst, like from the trenches of, you know, parenting preschoolers, but also, in its honesty, of the struggles that I went through, as a young mom, and all young moms do, it wasn’t like I was my experience was unusual. Talking about it at that time was unusual. And so um, yeah, I think that book, it’s, it’s been out there for years. And it’s still, you know, continues to sell. It’s still in print. So I think that’s because it resonates with people.
Michael Hingson 17:52
Well, speaking of things changing, you said that publishing Christian publishing wasn’t like that so much back then. But it sounds like it’s reinvented itself. Why is that? And how has it changed?
Keri Wyatt Kent 18:07
There’s a couple things. It has changed dramatically. It’s not only Christian publishing, but all publishing. publishers want to know that you’re going to bring an audience with you, when you put when you approached them. So a big part of being able to get a publishing contract, for example, is you have to have what what is referred to as a platform, you have to have a big mailing list or a big following on social media. Although it’s interesting, I was reading an article today that even though publishers make decisions based on an author, social media, and how many followers they have, and that sort of thing, that doesn’t necessarily translate directly to book sales. But when I first started writing, that was not as big a deal. The other thing that’s really changed is, I do quite a bit of self publishing, I help other people write books and then help them self publish them. Or I’ve self published, taking some of my books, some of my books, I’ve, you know, done 11 traditionally published books, some of them have gone out of print, that means they’re the publishers no longer selling it, and I can have the rights revert back to me. I’ve sometimes taken those books and re published them as a self published title. And this just recently, I, I self published a Christmas Devotional, an Advent devotional and just did it myself. The way I was able to do that is is self publishing. Used to be just what was called vanity publishing. You’d pay somebody to print your books and you had to buy a bunch of them and they sat in your garage and you maybe tried to sell them to friends and family. These days. Amazon has a A platform called Kindle Direct Publishing, that allows you to upload a manuscript, upload a cover, and put your book on Amazon. And as long as it’s not, you know, plagiarized from somewhere else, or, you know, as long as it makes sense, you can do it. And so that has really opened up. The ability to self publish for a lot of people. That was one of the things that I did to sort of, you know, reinvent myself is, I realized about 10 years ago that everybody was starting to talk about self publishing and this change and the technology called Print on Demand, where when someone orders a book from Amazon or other places, they have the technology to print a single copy, instead of a press run of, you know, 1000 or 10,000 books, you can print a single copy, and mail it out to whoever’s ordered it. And that changed the publishing game, because anybody could publish their own book. And I decided back a while ago, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the self publishing and how to do it. And I was a little intimidated, I was a little scared at first, I’m like, I don’t know how to do this. But I just, I’m a learner, and I learned it. And that enabled me then to begin to help other people, not only with collaborative writing, sometimes, in collaborative writing, you’re working on something that you’re going to present to a traditional publisher. But sometimes people want to self publish, I recently finished a project for a business woman who runs, she runs a national organization. And she came to me with just an idea and said, I want to write a book, and I all I know is the title. And I said, Okay, you know. And so I helped her shape her idea into a book outline, I collaborated with her to write the book. And then I guided her through the self publishing process. And that book is now her calling card, it establishes her as a credible authority, it opens doors for new business opportunities or speaking opportunities. And that would not have been possible 20 years ago, because I mean, she, she could have done it through like a vanity press. But this allows her then, to sell her book on Amazon. And that’s a great a great way for people, they may not want to be an author per se, they want to be an authority. And so book establishes them as an authority.
Michael Hingson 22:37
My impression from something that you said a little while ago, though, is that content has changed. You said that when you were first writing your original book, there wasn’t as much of an interest or people didn’t necessarily publish a lot of books being honest about themselves. And I gather that, that whole focus on life and life experience and, and self analysis has changed.
Keri Wyatt Kent 23:06
I think people were doing that maybe outside of the Christian publishing industry. But in the Christian publishing industry, there was more emphasis on, you know, here’s the best way to live your life kind of thing. But that’s changed. Now. That’s changed. Now. I think there are a lot of authors who are very honest about their, their struggles, their, their challenges, their fears, and, you know, people, Christian authors talk about their, their own struggles with depression, or, you know, people will talk about their eating disorder or their, you know, their marital problems or their divorce or whatever, things that were kind of just not talked about, you know, back back in the day, so, I think people are more honest. Because also social media gives readers a chance to connect with authors in a different way. I remember as a kid, I love Madeline L’Engle. She wrote A Wrinkle in Time, and she wrote a bunch of other books, and she, she was my favorite author. And I remember like writing her a letter, like, telling her how much I loved her book and that kind of thing. And I was so excited when she like, wrote back and, but at the that was like, the only way to connect with an author was to write them like basically a fan letter or something. And today, you can look up your favorite author and you can listen to their podcast or you can, you know, see a picture of them with their kids on social media or whatever you we have a lot more access to writers. So it’s kind of harder to like pretend everything’s great. If you Are you know, I mean, obviously people curate and you know, kind of make sure that they present a certain image on social media or whatever. But it’s, it seems to be more okay. To be honest with who you are. And
Michael Hingson 25:16
so I think the publishing industry has accepted that reinvention? I think so
Keri Wyatt Kent 25:20
yeah, I think so because they want, they want something that people can relate to. Right? Again, it comes back to the reader, you know, when you’re a writer, you got to think of your reader and your reader needs to be able to know, just see themselves in your story. And so I think when we’re honest about, you know, our struggles or our fears, then the reader can relate.
Michael Hingson 25:47
Do you think that the demands of readers and the interests that readers have in books has evolved and maybe reinvented? Or is it just that authors in the publishing industry are catching up? Or recognizing what readers really want?
Keri Wyatt Kent 26:05
That’s an interesting question. I think people have gotten used to, you know, I mean, even, you know, look at some of the other media that we consume, like television, or, you know, shows that we stream or whatever, however, we receive sort of, that sort of thing. You think about, like, Father Knows Best, or Leave It to Beaver back in the 50s, you know, where it presented, or even like the Brady Bunch, right, it presented, like, this sort of idealistic look at a family. And, you know, there may be some small problem, but what gets worked out in the 30 minutes of the sitcom or whatever, um, and I think you look at, like, some of the shows today, and they’ve gone almost to the opposite extreme, but of, you know, reality TV or whatever, but they, they are dealing with deeper issues, they’re dealing with struggle, in a way that, you know, we didn’t before so I think our society has just evolved in in that we’re willing to talk about, and want to take a look at you know, deeper issues. Maybe sometimes too much. Like goes to television.
Michael Hingson 27:30
Yeah, television has certainly made a big difference in, in all of our lives and social media has, we, we now seem to be a society that absolutely has to have instant gratification, we want to know this now. And the other part of it, it seems to me is that as society has made these kinds of demands, as society has shifted, it also expects the information just to be put right in front of it, and it doesn’t tend to do a lot of research anymore. So it doesn’t go beyond the story.
Keri Wyatt Kent 28:10
Yeah. And people will accept as true. Things that might not be true. You know, everybody, you know, I read it on the internet. So it must be true. Or they, you know, hear a story and they hear, right, they don’t redo research. They don’t, you know, wonder is this actually what’s the case? And so that makes it harder sometimes, I think, for people to discern, I think discernment is, you know, kind of wish it was more highly valued in our current culture than it is.
Michael Hingson 28:48
I know I have. Oftentimes, when I speak, I’ve been asked about the World Trade Center and my experiences and people say, What do you think about the conspiracy theorists? Or isn’t it true that this really happened and of course, the, the most common one for me, is the story that keeps floating around the internet, about the dog that was with its blind person up on the 100 and 12th story of one of the towers. And the person told the dog to just go down the stairs and the the dog got wouldn’t leave and got them up. But then the dog ran back in and went back up and saved hundreds of people and did that two or three times and then was finally killed when the tower collapsed. And there’s just a drop of truth in the story. Right, in that there is one person who was blind with their dog. Not me, but who who felt that he wasn’t going to get out and he told his dog to go when the dog wouldn’t go, which is what the dog should do that dog stays with its person. Right? And that’s it. But that whole story has just made it around the internet and continues to be there. And I keep getting asked, isn’t that a true story? And the answer is no, it’s not, you know, people don’t take the time to learn what a guide dog is about, for example.
Keri Wyatt Kent 30:19
And they don’t tend to take the time to realize that the tower was hit on the 93rd floor or whatever. And so the dog couldn’t get down from the 112 floors.
Michael Hingson 30:29
And how and how many stories are in the World Trade Center? How many floors? I don’t know, 110. The other part about the story. But yeah, exactly what you say is true. There was one person, according to a police officer who I met, there was one person in Tower two, who was on the 90th floor, the 91st floor, and got down past the fire after tower two was hit. He was just in the right place at the right time, and he made it past the fires. But otherwise, no one made it out from above where the aircraft hidden both towers, of course. Right,
Keri Wyatt Kent 31:13
right. Well, you know, it’s interesting, I remember back when, when email was first starting, people would forward. Oh, here’s something, you know, they have some story. I’m like, that’s not true. Was before Facebook. So I’m showing my age. But before Facebook, people would email you, you know, these sort of urban myths and, you know, telling you different things. And I would email back I was like, I was fighting for truth. I’m like, this is false. It is not a true story. You shouldn’t forward things, because you just heard it or somebody sent it to you do your research. It’s not true. And social media has taken that to the nth degree, you know, of more and more stories that are not true. And I feel, especially as part of my faith, Mike, I feel like if truth matters, it really matters. And a lot of times I find people of faith are the ones who are forwarding the, you know, conspiracy theories or the you know, template urban myth or even that’s one about the dog right. It’s a feel good story. Oh, that sounds like Lassie, you know, kept running into the burning building to save the people. And you want it to be true, but it’s, it’s not and it’s, it’s not good to even a heartwarming story like that. It’s not good to just forward things that aren’t true. And I think our our culture has lost its grip on what is true, you know, if you try to counter people’s argument about all sorts of things, you know, politics or the pandemic or whatever with truth, they accuse you of like believing the lies on both sides. So it’s, it’s a challenging time to, to tell stories, because truth does matter. But it seems to be a value that’s sort of eroding in our culture.
Michael Hingson 33:09
I have to do this speaking of Lassie, he never she never did save Timmy from the well. But she did save Timmy from from bear and from this attack and all sorts of things and the this was in this brief article I read in the end of the article was did a pretty anybody ever tell Timmy and his parents maybe it was time to move?
Keri Wyatt Kent 33:37
Yeah, we should just like be a little more careful about all of this he was unsupervised. When he preps he shouldn’t
Michael Hingson 33:49
share a parenting discussion there that. Oh, gosh. But yeah, but But blasey never did save Timmy from the well. But anyway, there are urban myths, right? It’s another urban myth of sort of like Fibber McGee and Molly now I’m dating me, but I never did listen to Fibber McGee and Molly growing up. I collect old radio shows. And so I listened to that show now. And anyone who knows anything about Fibber McGee and Molly knows that they have a closet that whenever Fibber opens the closet, everything comes falling out. And that’s what they remember about Fibber McGee and Molly, but it only happened a couple or three or four times a year. It didn’t happen in every episode, but it’s what people remember. And it is a pretty funny skit whenever it does happen. Yeah, but but we we do glom on to these myths, and these these thoughts and they take over our memory, whether they’re true or not, and I’m sorry, I’ve never bought into the concept of alternative facts. Because you it is a fact or it’s not and there isn’t an alternative if it’s an alternative. It’s not a fact. Yeah, and that It could be a different argument, but it’s not a fact. People have forgotten that. Right.
Keri Wyatt Kent 35:05
And that’s I think the nature of, of sort of insidious lies is that they have a little element of truth, like the story about the dog that you mentioned, or, you know, there’s, there’s certain facts can be twisted, to tell to change the narrative, right. So again, you have to have discernment and try to not let your fear get the better of you, I think that’s part of it is people hear something, they don’t understand it, and they misinterpret it. And then their fear takes over.
Michael Hingson 35:43
And some of them misinterpret it deliberately. But it is, it is part of society. Today, there is a whole set of theories about how the government really took down the towers, the twin towers of the World Trade Center using microwaves and other things, and some physics arguments are used and so on. But there, there’s a lot that’s left out of those theories. And the bottom line is that when it all comes down to it, the experiences of the people who were there ought to count for something. But the conspiracy theorists ignore that. And so they, they choose to put these things forward. And one person’s written books, and others have told stories on speeches and so on. But the reality is, what happened is what happened aircraft crashed into the buildings. The resulting fuel explosions further damaged the infrastructures. And the buildings eventually collapsed. And there’s no getting around that. Yeah, but people like to try to create mountains out of molehills
Keri Wyatt Kent 36:54
or change the narrative in some way to make it not wanting to deal with the fact that I think we for for years, the United States kind of felt like we were immune, or we would never get attacked on our own soil. It was, you know, wars were fought somewhere else, not on our land. And so wanting to believe that means people would come up with outlandish ideas to you know, sort of explain away the idea that, that we were being attacked, you know, that somehow it was some sort of sleight of hand that the government was doing or something and, you know, so that, that I just when I think about what motivates people to like, come up with something like that. I think a lot of times people didn’t want to believe that, that we would be attacked on our own would be attacked. Yeah. Yeah. Well, you’re
Michael Hingson 37:54
working on a number of projects now. And I’m Chris, that brings us a little bit to what, what brought us together. On an earlier podcast, we had a chance to meet Susie Florrie who wrote thunder dog with me. And it was a very collaborative venture was a lot of fun. And then this past summer, I began looking at writing another book. And Susie didn’t have time to work on it. She’s finishing a master’s program. And I assume she’s still planning on going on to the Ph. D. program, isn’t she? Yeah, she is. She is she’s, she’s got lots to do right now. Scholar is, and she introduced us.
Keri Wyatt Kent 38:38
Yes, yes. He’s a longtime friend. And we have, I was delighted that she introduced us, Mike.
Michael Hingson 38:45
So we started writing a book proposal. And the idea was that as I have traveled the world and talk about the World Trade Center, and talk about my experiences, and what I did, I did not ever spend time really developing in a program to teach other people how to accomplish the same sorts of things that I did, which in a nutshell, is basically saying, I haven’t taught people how to learn to control their fears. And, and somebody suggested to me to call the program and so on blinded by fear, because that’s exactly what really happens. We get confronted by unexpected life changes. All of us with the pandemic today. The World Trade Center, 20 years ago, the Pentagon, any number of things that have happened and we become blinded, we become paralyzed. We don’t know how to make decisions. We can’t make decisions, because we’re confronted by this thing that seems overwhelming to us, whatever it is. And it doesn’t need to be that way. than the fact is that I think some people believe we’re wired to be this way, we’re wired. But but in a sense, we’re not. We’ve been taught by our parents, our peers, everyone around us about fear, but we’ve never really collectively been taught how to control it or not be totally blinded by it. So we, you and I started writing this book. And now of course, we’ve submitted a proposal. And we have a great working title, I like the title you came up with, which is a guide dogs Guide to Being brave, which is more positive anyway. But tell me what what you think about this book, or what it can do, and kind of your thoughts about the whole process that we’re going through.
Keri Wyatt Kent 40:42
Mike, I was so excited when, you know, Suzy introduced us. And we started talking about this idea, because I do think people are, they want to live a courageous life, they want to not let their fear control them or blind them. But they need help. And so I feel like this book is going to give them some very positive, doable, suggestions and guidance on overcoming what fear does to us, we’re gonna feel fear, it’s a human emotion, it’s a response, and it’s a part of life, it’s there to protect us, right? You know, we, if we didn’t have fear, we drive on the wrong side of the road, or, you know, we do things that take unnecessary risks, so, but we, a lot of people, let their fear paralyze them, or blind them, or whatever they don’t, they don’t want to take unnecessary risks, but then sometimes they don’t want to take any risk at all, or they tell themselves stories, oh, you know, the government took down the buildings or, you know, they’re trying to control you, they’re gonna microchip you with the vaccine, or whatever, they make up stories that, that keep them from living a full life. And when we live a brave life, it’s a more meaningful life. And so I feel like that’s what we want to give people with this book is, is how can people live courageously, not just to say they did it, but because it makes for a better life. So I’m excited to you know, find the right publisher for this book and to the process of writing, I think, will be just a learning experience for both of us and a lot of fun. So and I think the book will help people when we get it finished.
Michael Hingson 42:33
Bravery does not mean that you take unnecessary risks. Bravery, means, to me, at least in part, that you don’t live a risk free life, but you live a life where you do move forward, and you don’t let what occurs to you, panic you and keep you from moving forward, and that you also are brave, if you step back from time to time, and look at what you did and say, did I make the right choice there? Or should I have done something different? Or what did I learn from the choices that I make? And we are, as a society rarely, self analyzing?
Keri Wyatt Kent 43:16
Yeah, to take us, I love that to take a step back and learn. Because otherwise, we’re going to repeat our mistakes, right? And living your right Living Courageously doesn’t mean haphazardly risking things without thinking them through. But taking the time for some self examination for some reflection on our life. And that’s a lot of what I’ve written about my whole career is, you know, taking time to slow down and to reflect. And in those moments, we can decide to be to be brave, because we can go Oh, right now I’m feeling scared. But I can look back at, oh, I’ve done this before, and I managed to just fine, you know, and as a result I can I can move forward with with courage and confidence. And so I think that’s part of what we’re, you know, as we’ve talked about the outline, and we’ve been working on that, you know, the whole idea of, of mindfulness and reflection and taking time for just examining our own fears. And I think a lot of times you can when you’re feeling scared, notice your own thinking, Oh, look at me, I’m feeling nervous, like what’s going on? What am i What’s the worst case scenario? If this happens, then what you know, but if, if it doesn’t turn out badly, then I could have a lot of positive results. So I think this book will help people to do those things.
Michael Hingson 44:47
I hope so I’m looking forward to moving on with the book and and what it will bring. It’s going to be a great adventure and I regard life as an adventure anyway, so This is just another part of it. And I’m looking forward to the fun that we will have with it. And I hope that we, indeed will be able to help others recognize that you can control your fears, you can be in very tenuous and very dangerous, if you will situations, at least to you. They seem dangerous, and they might very well be. But the reality is that you can control your fear. And you can use it to help you make better decisions and be able to focus.
Keri Wyatt Kent 45:36
Right, right, exactly. So it
Michael Hingson 45:39
will be a lot of, it’ll be a lot of fun to see how all this goes. And neither of us knows what the ending of this book is gonna be yet, but it’s gonna be a lot of fun.
Keri Wyatt Kent 45:49
That’s what I love about writing, Mike, you know, when I write, every time I’ve written a book, I’ve had an outline of how to plan. But as the project unfolds, even as you’re writing about something, you gain new insights, I think God gives you a you know, ideas, but also, as you explore what you think about something, you’re thinking evolves, and it does go in directions, it’s an adventure, publishing, writing is an adventure. And it’s fun, because you’re learning as you’re doing it, I think that’s why I love my job is I learn I learning is one of my like, on strengths finders, it’s one of my top strengths, because I love to learn. And I writing allows me to learn about all sorts of people about all sorts of topics. And so, and when we take the mindset of a learner, and we stick open and curious, I think that also is a way of addressing our fear, we are less afraid. If we let go of feeling like we have to have everything in control, we have to know everything, we’re just learning. And that’s, that makes life more interesting and less scary.
Michael Hingson 47:06
One of my favorite sayings that that I’ve adopted, and I don’t think that I probably was the original creator of it, but I don’t know where it came from, is don’t worry about what you can control focus on the things you can and the rest will take care of itself. I know that that’s what I heard, said to me, when I was running away from tower to collapsing. And then of course, we talked about that in Thunder dog, which is, which is my book. And and I tell the story of how I believe very firmly that God said to me, don’t worry about what you can’t control focus on running with Roselle and the rest will take care of itself. Because that was probably the time that I came closest to panic. But even then, I focused. And I did hear that voice saying that. And the reality is that following that advice was what kept us going on Tuesday, as we ran from the tower, went into a subway station and came out and so on. But ever since I keep hearing people say we should get back to normal. And even today, talking about the pandemic we we hear people talking about, and the news media says we’ve got to get back to normal, normal will never be the same again.
Keri Wyatt Kent 48:28
Every day, that’s true, whether we’re in a pandemic, whether we’re being attacked, whether or it will never be the same because life unfolds that way. And we have to just constantly adapt to change. And I think when we realize that, and I think you know, we’re going to talk about this in our book, our upcoming book, when we are willing to go Oh, Today’s a new day and there’s things to adapt to and change then we can there’s less angst you know, we’re not going Why isn’t like it used to be because it used to be is not today’s today, like it’s it’s not used to be so yeah, I agree. We were not going to go back to normal. There never was a normal, it’s each day brings us new adventures. And if we embrace those, then we live a better life.
Michael Hingson 49:18
So you have other projects that you’re that you’re working on. And I know you and Susie worked on one, didn’t you?
Keri Wyatt Kent 49:25
Yeah, um, Susie and I have have done some things together. And I’m also I just I think I told you about the book with the business woman that just came out. It’s called trust your voice. And my Christmas Devotional just came out. I’m also I’m also editing a book for another friend of yours. And we’re working on a book proposal for him. So I’m constantly you know, working in writing on different projects, but um, but I’m looking forward to, you know, helping you right ears. And it’s it’s fun to be able to have all these people who I help them write their stories and help them. Share them with the world. It’s it’s, it’s a fun career.
Michael Hingson 50:11
Susie told us a little bit about going to Ireland and and she talked about the story of the donkey whisperer and so on. And you you went with her on that trip, didn’t you?
Keri Wyatt Kent 50:23
That was so fun. Like it like you, Mike. I’m an adventurer. So Susie called me and said, Hey, I’m going to Ireland in two weeks Do you want to come with? And I said, Yes. So I got a you know, and then I got to meet she’s, um, she’s got a book coming out called sanctuary, right. And it’s about a Donkey Sanctuary in Ireland, and the man who started that in his son’s story of falling away and coming back. And it’s a wonderful story. And I got to meet Patrick, the man who is the book is about, we went exploring, driving around Ireland, it’s, they drive on the other side of the road from where we live. And Suzie was great. Driver, I was the navigator, which, you know, but we, we just had such a wonderful time. And we stayed in this little cottage where we both like, did some writing work, but also we were exploring castles and little towns, and it was absolutely great. So we had a fun time doing that. But
Michael Hingson 51:28
yeah, and never saw a single leprechaun.
Keri Wyatt Kent 51:32
We didn’t however. So there’s a funny story. So they, they don’t talk about leprechauns as much in Ireland as they talk about fairies. And fairies are not like Tinkerbell they’re more mischievous, they’re, they’re more of a, they can maybe wreak a little bit of havoc, if you’re not if you’re, if you get on their bad side, or whatever. And so I had been taking some pictures with my iPhone. And one of the things if you’re shooting into the sun with an iPhone, there’s a little.of light that it looks like a little green dot that sometimes shows up in your pictures. And with the, the iPhone also has this thing called Live where you can hold your finger on the photo and it moves a little bit, it’s actually shot a short video for your still picture. And so in one of the pictures that I had taken, I think at a graveyard because in for some reason we were looking at old cemeteries because they’re, you know, the graves are like, hundreds of years old. This little dot was in the picture. And I showed it to some of our friends in Ireland. And they’re like, I’m like, what is that? It’s weird. There’s this little dot moving around, like, what is it? They’re like, Oh, it’s a fairy. Okay, might be, who am I to say? So
Michael Hingson 52:54
it was a real question is do you see? The real question is do you see the dot whenever you take pictures over here? Yeah, well, I
Keri Wyatt Kent 53:01
I looked it up. And apparently there’s some trick of the the lens on a on an iPhone that if you’re shooting into or at a certain angle to the light, it’s going to the.is there and I have seen it other places. But I, I kind of like the idea that that in those pictures, there’s a fairy
Michael Hingson 53:18
fairy and no matter where I am, right, so the fairies are all over. They’re not just in Ireland. And it’s just that people don’t recognize them. And on our way to me,
Keri Wyatt Kent 53:28
yeah, I think you know, there’s powers that be maybe, but maybe perhaps the fairies are everywhere. And only in Ireland, do they? Do they acknowledge
Michael Hingson 53:37
and really acknowledge them? Yes. Well, I was in Ireland, back in 2003. To do some speaking and work with the Irish guy dog school. I never did encounter fairies. And I never did encounter leprechauns. People said don’t go out at night. The leprechauns are there and they’re not necessarily nice. And I figured, well, but I don’t need any wishes. So I could make peace with leprechauns. I never met any.
Keri Wyatt Kent 54:04
Oh, that’s too bad, you know, but maybe they were there, but you just didn’t get to encounter them? Well,
Michael Hingson 54:10
I’m sure you know, I’m sure they were there. But they are they, they chose not to make their presence known. So that’s okay. Yeah, so you have but you have lots of projects you’re working on. Now, as you said, you’re working on one with a person that I know. That’s is that a memoir or biography or what
Keri Wyatt Kent 54:29
it’s um, it’s a memoir,
Michael Hingson 54:30
it’s what’s the difference?
Keri Wyatt Kent 54:33
Um, well, a biography can be written by by somebody else. But an autobiography is written by yourself but a autobiography tends to kind of go chronologically you know, I was born here and then this happened and it’s kind of a catalogue of your life whereas memoir focuses typically on a season or a specific event like your dog, your book, Thunder dog was a member More of a specific event that days 911. And what happened there, but then it wove in parts of your story of, of growing up and how your family handled your blindness and some of the it also woven information about the abilities of blind people and how they, they don’t sometimes get the opportunities they should, in the discrimination they face and that sort of thing. But the hook or focus was on that particular day. Some people do what’s called a stunt memoir, I think of there was a book called by a Jewish man written called The Year of Living biblically. And he went through the, the, the Bible, especially the Old Testament says he was Jewish. And he tried to do all the laws that were written in the Bible. And, you know, wearing a prayer shawl and you know, doing sacrifice, sacrificing an ox or something like you went and did all the old, you know, all law things in the Torah. And he wrote about, and he’s very funny guy, so he tells his own story, but he set himself up to do a stunt, so to speak. So a memoir focuses on a season, or sometimes a stunt, sometimes in a specific event. Whereas autobiography is basically like a catalogue of your whole life.
Michael Hingson 56:31
Got it? So this book that you’re working on is a little bit more memoir ish.
Keri Wyatt Kent 56:37
Yeah, for sure, it tells his whole story. But, um, if we can, I guess we could just tell you, you, you referred me actually to this man, who is also he lost his sight in, in a in an accident, as a soldier. And it’s so it’s a story of his overcoming the challenges, you know, and a change, he had big dreams of being a part of the, you know, police force in his native country, and then, you know, kind of had to change his direction. And just the things that he overcame. So it’s, it’s, it’s his life story, for sure. But it’s a memoir, because we also want to try and like, connect his story. I think my more focus, you know, we talked about, we’ve been talking a lot in this conversation about connecting with the reader and having the reader see themselves in your story. And so I think his overcoming of a lot volunteered to learn, learn braille, learn to walk with a cane and learn English all at the same time in a culture that he was unfamiliar with. And, and so I think that, you know, sort of that overcoming obstacles in your life theme is one that readers will relate to, even if they’re not somebody who’s blind and having to learn English.
Michael Hingson 58:05
So and he has accomplished all those tasks. Yes, yeah.
Keri Wyatt Kent 58:08
He’s, he’s got a great job out in Nebraska now working with, with helping other blind people. And yeah, he’s an amazing, he’s an amazing person. So it’s been fun to talk with him and learn more about him as I’m working on that proposal.
Michael Hingson 58:25
Well, anxious to see how all that comes out and see the book when it’s published. Well, I want to thank, I want to thank you for being on the unstoppable mindset, clearly an unstoppable person. And I appreciate all of your stories and the time that you spent with us. If people want to learn more about you, if they want to reach out to you and maybe talk to you about helping them with a book project of some sort. How do they do that?
Keri Wyatt Kent 58:52
You know, I help people. I’m a publishing adventure guide, and I help people tell their powerful stories. So my website is a powerful story.com a powerful story calm, they can also find me at Carey Wyatt can’t calm that’s a little harder to spell so. So a powerful story.com is where you can connect with me I have a blog and information about my projects and a way to contact me there. So I would love to hear from, from our listeners about if they’re interested in writing a book, if they’re interested in writing at all. I try to mentor other writers where I can I’m going to be speaking at a writers conference out in California in February on self publishing, so that’s another way west coast Christian writers you can find out more about that by going to West Coast Christian writers.com. So lots of ways to connect with me.
Michael Hingson 59:49
Well, I hope people will and I want to thank you for being with us today and spending an hour with us talking about what you do in your life and your insights and I am looking forward To see how we are able to progress with a guide dogs Guide to Being brave, and I hope that we’ll get some good news on that soon and we will start to really get serious about writing it. Right?
Keri Wyatt Kent 1:00:11
That’s a thank you anything to write it in my plan for 2022 is to write the guide dog help you write the guide dogs Guide to Being brave. So we’re hoping that we’ll find a publishing home for that that would be, that’d be great.
Michael Hingson 1:00:27
Well, thanks again. And as always, for those of you who are listening, if you have any thoughts or want to ask questions, or reach out to me feel free to do so. You can reach me at Michael H I M I C H A E L H I at accessiBe A C C E S S I B E.com. MichaelHi@accessiBe.com. We hope that you enjoyed this podcast to the point where you will give it a nice five star rating wherever you listen to podcasts. If you’d like to subscribe or learn more about the unstoppable mindset, please visit Michael Hingson M I C H A E L H I N G S O N.com/podcast. And we thank you all for listening. And we hope that she’ll be back with us again next week. We’re getting close to Christmas. And we’ll do some adventurous things around that as well. So thanks very much, Keri, and thanks very much everyone for coming to unstoppable mindset today.
Michael Hingson 1:01:31
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.