Susan's Blog

Monday, December 23, 2019

More About GHOST

While on my bike ride the other day, I had a revelation about how to begin implementing GHOST, which I first described in Psychology Today. First I came up with what the acronym means: G.H.O.S.T: Group Home Oversight & Support Team. The way it would work is, the parents and guardians of group home residents swear an alliance of the soul with each other and vow to check in on the others’ child in the parent’s absence/death. Weekly visits. And if you can’t, you must get someone else who gives a shit to do it in your place. I don’t know what the incentive would be since we don’t all have trust funds for our guys. Is saving/enriching a life enough motivation? In effect our group home peer families become “Ghosts” for us?

G.H.O.S.T. FORM (Group Home Oversight and Support Team)


Loved One’s Name____________________________________________________

Ghost’s Name________________________________________________________


Date of Last Visit____________________________


  • What was the overall demeanor of _________________________________?
  • If you looked in his room, what was its condition?
  • What was your interaction with the loved one like?
Friday, December 13, 2019

Change Vs. Accept? Read My Latest For Psychology Today

How much should we autism parents struggle to “change” our children’s behavior, to channel it to more “normal” pursuits? Are we stifling the real person by doing so? You can read the piece here.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

I’m Offering A Writing Workshop Online

The process for producing a publishable piece: Nailing the essay-length work

This two-part class will give you the basic tools for crafting opeds, personal narrative, book proposals, pitch letters, beginning memoirs. You will also have opportunity for peer review and one free session of my editing. 2 Saturday mornings in January, TBD


  1. Overview: The essay, what it is used for:
  • Pitch letters
  • Opeds
  • Summary of book for an agent
  • Persuasion


  1. The three most important goals for an essay
  • To catch the reader’s eye
  • To get the reader to keep reading
  • To “win,” i.e., to fully convey your point and persuade


  1. The nutshell: how do you create perfect essay-length works?
  • Structure
  • Tools, techniques, and strategies
  • Tone
  • Understanding your reader


  1. The bricks and mortar: structuring your piece
  • Lede
  • Background
  • Active story
  • Falling action
  • Kicker


  1. Let’s talk about tools, techniques, and strategies


  1. Learning from others: read and write the type of essay you are aiming for.
  • Best ledes:
  • B. White
  • Brent Staples
  • Maya Angelou
  • Opening of Glass Castle
  • Best kickers:
  • Joyful Noise
  • NY Times pieces


  • Assignment#1: Read the essays. Analyze two of these essays for next time: structure & techniques, with examples. Critique the pair: are there problems?
  • Assignment #2: Write out your idea(s) for next time.


The process for producing a publishable piece: Nailing the essay-length work



  1. What is your idea?
  • Sometimes there is more than one essay within your essay
  • Current topics
  • Evergreen topics


  1. What is your angle? Is it special and new, shocking, revelatory, solution-oriented?


  1. Finding your own process: Outlines, free-writes and brain dumps





  1. What techniques will you use?
  • Your favorite techniques
  • Less familiar techniques
  1. Give your work its due
  • Never ever believe your first draft is THE ONE
  • Put it away, print it out, try not to edit online
  • Get a reliable reader


  1. Read-around/peer review


  1. Wrap-up


  1. Feedback

Cost is $150 for both days, or $100 for one day.

January 4 9am-12pm EST and January 11 9am-12pm EST

Contact me for registration details.