Friday – From the Author

I know that I’ve been absent for a while, since last year in fact. I bet that a lot of you thought that I’d fallen off the planet. Truth is, life got crazy busy for a while there. Hopefully now I’ll be able to return more regularly. I’ve missed all of you and look forward to getting reacquainted!

Here’s my jam for the week, what was yours?

Happy Friday!

Thursday Reads – Bunnicula

Here is where I shall share my favorite books.

Summary according to the Library of Congress: Though scoffed at by Harold the dog, Chester the cat tries to warn his human family that their foundling baby bunny must be a vampire.

I have never been able to accurately pin down what genre it is I write. Is it mystery, fantasy, science fiction? All I can say for certain is that I write fiction. I write what I want to, what my characters tell me to write. In a very real sense, I am only the narrator or the scribe for the stories that they tell. But I think that this broad type of writing can trace it’s roots back to my reading. I was a voracious reader that read everything I could get my hands on. So I thought that it would be fun to start sharing the books that mean a lot to me.

I’m starting off with one of my all time favs, Bunnicula. It is told from the viewpoint of Harold, a very patient dog and it is a joy to read.

When the family brings home a baby bunny after going to see the movie Dracula, it’s up to the family pets to determine whether or not this new pet is a threat to the family or not. It combines mystery, vegetables are turning white and being drained of juice, and humor, with the snarky and paranoid actions of Chester the cat.

It is an entertaining read and one that I return to again and again. What is a childhood favorite read for you?


Here is where I’ll be sharing a new word every week. I will always be sourcing the definitions from Merriam-Webster Dictionary. So without further ado:

Definition of etymology

1 : the history of a linguistic form (such as a word) shown by tracing its development since its earliest recorded occurrence in the language where it is found, by tracing its transmission from one language to another, by analyzing it into its component parts, by identifying its cognates in other languages, or by tracing it and its cognates to a common ancestral form in an ancestral language

Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Déjà Vu – Did I already say that?

I love to write, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. However, it was only recently that I became brave enough to publish my writing for other people to read. Thanks to a very dear friend who helped me successfully run the gauntlet of editing my manuscript, my books are now in print with more on the way.

During the editing process, something became apparently clear to me. I overuse several words. My editor friend reassured me that this was normal, that all writers have words that they gravitate too. Mine in this case was slightly. With her help and minute changes throughout the manuscript, I was able to whittle the amount of slightly’s down to the appropriate number. There were several places where the word slightly was indeed the correct choice, but the majority were misplaced.

So my Tuesday tip to you is this. With an open mind, go back through your writing and see if there are any words that you gravitate to. If you don’t find them, congratulations. If you do, as you most likely will, don’t be frustrated. Think of this as an opportunity to expand both your vocabulary and your characters. Does this one word always appear with a certain character? For example, in “Princess Bride”, Vizzini was always using the word “Inconceivable”

With a little bit of time and patience, you can usually work these overused words out and come up with a stronger story for it.

So what is a word that you find yourself overusing?

Something New

If you learn just one thing every day, you’ll have learned 365 things in a year. Learning 365 things all at once is daunting, but one a day is doable, right? So what are you learning/want to learn?

Envision – Book Review

When you set off on a journey, you never know what you will discover along the way. When I first started writing the Seeker Files, I had no idea where my journey would take me or the wonderful people that I would meet along the way. One of these people turned out to be Jennifer Benson, my amazing editor. Although I was originally just looking for beta readers, she saw the promise in my stories and helped me to polish them, for which I am truly grateful.

But during this process, we became close friends and she shared with me a story that she had been working on. It was stunningly beautiful and tempted me to read it over and over again. One thing I cannot do is write short stories, I simply don’t have the knack for it (In other words, I talk too much, lol). But the sheer amount of imagery and feeling tucked into the story will leave you craving more stories from her. I am so proud of her following her dreams and publishing it and hope that she will continue to grace us with more stories in the future!



When two sisters receive their mysterious inheritance, their lives are changed forever. Mara rejects her heritage and disappears while Anastasia accepts it and flourishes. Then rumors about the missing sister begin to swirl. Anastasia swears she didn’t kill Mara, but her story is too fantastic to be believable…or is it?


So, will you read it? Happy Thursday!

Being Real

The internet has given us freedom that we could’ve never imagined. It has opened worlds to us that would’ve been impossible even a few decades ago. Behind the safety of a computer screen, we can become anyone or anything. It gives us a degree of separation that helps buffer us from the reality of the situation. But in doing this, we’ve lost a bit of ourselves. In our rush to show the world our amazingness, we try to hide our flaws away. But in my opinion, our weaknesses and flaws are part of what makes the sum of us. We are not complete without our scars. So I’ve decided to be totally honest with you guys today.

I’ve been absent from my blog for a while. That is because there has been a lot going on in my life. Now, I am not trying to excuse myself, but I thought that I would share what has been going on.

  1. I published the second book in my series in May. After publishing it, I was hit was major anxiety and depression. Who was I to be a writer? What if everyone hated it? Was I just kidding myself that I was cut out to be a writer?

These and many other questions assailed me during this time. With some time and sleep, I was able to work through it, but the biggest help that pulled me through this time was my reason WHY I write. I write because I love my characters and stories and want to share them with others who will hopefully love them as much as I do. While it would be nice to reach J.K. Rowling fame, if my stories resonate with even one other person, I’m happy.

2. I was working with an editor on reworking my first novel “In Search of Justice”. Now, there are two things to realize for this. One, I wrote my first novel in just under a month. After hiding my writing for years, I decided that I was sick and tired of hiding my writing and challenged myself to write a mystery AND publish it in time for Halloween. After all, I’d seen much worse on Amazon. When I sat down, I was fortunate enough to have the plot for a six book series pop into my head. I did as I challenged myself and managed to write and publish a mystery in just under a month in time for Halloween. I was so wiped out after it happened. So after recouping and writing the second book, I decided that it was time to go back and polish up the first book. Second, I absolutely hate grammar. It has been my arch-nemesis since 7th grade. I would have meltdowns about it. I love to write, but grammar is a struggle for me. So the rewriting/polishing part really took it out of me.

3. During the last part of June, first part of July, we discovered that my aunt, my father’s sister, had lung cancer. We were unsure what stage it was, but we were worried that it was quite advanced and maybe had even settled in her bones. After several weeks of uncertainty and testing, we were relieved to discover that it was only stage one and only on one spot in one lung. We were very thankful for that.

4. Since December 2016, I have been learning American Kenpo Karate Jiu-Jitsu or Kenpo for short. We test every two months to advanced rank. This month, I tested for Advanced Blue, which is about halfway to Black Belt. I find testing extremely stressful, even though I love the art itself, so I’m always wiped after a test. On a positive note, I did pass the test 🙂

5. I have started on Book Three of the Seeker Files, In Search of High Society. After fighting with Aletta and Lirim for several weeks, I went back and wrote a prologue before returning to where I was. Apparently they just wanted me to properly set the stage, because it’s been going swimmingly since.

6. And finally, two days ago, my smartphone died after it threw itself off of a table. Because of a low paycheck, it will be a few weeks until I can get a new one. I am in technology withdrawal, lol.


So where am I going with this? I honestly don’t know. I try to be upbeat and positive in my posts. I try to wear a happy mask for the world and honestly, most of the time it’s the truth. My life could be so much worse than it is and I am truly blessed. But I also think that when we try to hide out struggles, we are cheating those we engage with the chance to share theirs and also the ability to encourage others that they will get through things. So please, share with me. What are some struggles that you’ve encountered lately?

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

How to Find Your Writing Style – Author Toolbox

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2


Now, this may seem like common sense. You already know how to write and you have your preferred methods. Doesn’t matter if you are a pantser or a plotter, you know how to write and you’ve most likely been doing it for some time now. However, you pause for a moment, maybe she’s talking about actual style, like APA, Chicago, or MLA. While I would like to cover the differences and uses of them someday, that is NOT what I am talking about. I am talking about your own personal writing style. Everyone is different and beautifully unique and your writing style reflects that. So I want to dig a little deeper into it and maybe you’ll find something that resonates with you.


I was homeschooled along with my 3 brothers from Kindergarten through 12th grade. This enabled me to find out some unique things about learning styles and how to teach them as my mother put together our curriculum. So let’s start off with the basics. There are three main learning styles: Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic.


Visual: You learn best by watching and reading. You tend to absorb information through observation, watching and reading and then turning it over in your mind before storing it away to be pulled out at a later time. This is my learning style



Auditory: You learn best by listening. You tend to absorb information better that is presented orally, maybe has music, or from watching a video than from reading about it. Many times, auditory people will turn their face away from you or close their eyes while you speak. This is not an insult. In fact, it’s a sign that they are paying close attention and are tuning out other distractions so that they can listen to you fully. My older brother is an auditory learner.



Kinesthetic: You learn best by doing. You tend to absorb information best when you can jump right in and participate. Your type of learning is hands on and you’re usually not afraid to join right in with whatever is going on. My middle brother’s learning style was this one.



One the other hand, no one tends to be just one learning style, although they do have a primary learning style. For example, I am primarily a visual learner, with a secondary auditory. So when I write, I usually have no problem writing and searching info, but if I have music playing in the background, it helps me focus better.

Learning styles


So what does all of this have to do with writing? Well, now that I’ve explained the three types, I’ll share some tips that might help if you get stuck while writing. So for this post, I’m going to keep the focus fairly narrow, although I could go on about this all day. Learning styles are one of my favorite topics 😊 Still, I’m just going to go with character development for the purpose of this post.





In this case, internet and magazines are your friend. When you create a character, explore names and their different meanings. For example, your character is European, what country do they come from? Look for names that come from that country and a meaning that fits the main characteristic of your character, like strength, bravery, wisdom, cunning, cowardice, darkness, wanderer, etc. Or go onto an internet browser or Pinterest and search for images that draw you in. For example, does dark hair catch your attention more than other colors? Maybe you want to make your character unique, so you look for uncommon traits, like different colored eyes. If there is a place that is a mainstay in your writing, take the time to figure out all of the visual details. Urban or country? Indoors or outdoors? New or old building? Bright colors or earth tones? Work your way all the way down to the small details, like the tread pattern worn on the carpet and the type of bulb in the light fixtures. When you have visual images fully filled out, you can fully visualize how your characters will move through these settings.




Focus on the auditory aspects of your character. Can they sing? What sort of voice do they have, raspy, smooth, dry, smoky, sultry, even, cracked? What sort of music do they listen to? Classical? Heavy Metal because they are going through a rebellious phase or simply because they can lose themselves in it? Indie? Pop? When they walk, what do their footsteps sound like, a smooth tread, a heavy tread, hesitant with a slight drag to it from an old injury? Do they dance as they walk or simply plod along? If you have a main place in your writing, think about it. Do the hinges squeak when the doors open or are they silent? Do certain spots on the floor squeak, a leftover from when cousin George spilled something in that spot? Are you in an urban or country setting? Each place will have their own unique soundtrack to explore. Also, I suggest listening to music as you write. Each character will have their own unique song/soundtrack that will develop as you get to know them better.




Now, you say, how can I possibly turn this into writing? I mean, I’m writing a space opera, how in the world am I supposed to do space things? Or I’m writing fantasy, so where would I find a werewolf, etc? Well, actually, this isn’t as bad as you think it might be, in fact, you’ll probably actually have some fun with this. You get to act. Stuck on how to do character development? Get physical. Find a wall and measure out the heights that you’re thinking about for the different characters and mark them with something removable, like sticky notes. This way, you can alter as needed. Do the heights work together or is there too much of a difference or a similarity? After all, heights that are the same are boring unless you’re trying to sneak into a cloning facility where everyone is 5’7.83” tall and that’s your characters height. Trying to figure out how your character would walk or react in a certain situation? Try it yourself. For example, your character might have a slight limp because one foot is an inch shorter than the other. Find something that is an inch thick and foot sized, then strap it on one foot and try to walk across the room. Your character has a food allergy or will only eat a certain type of food, try cooking with these limitations and get a feel for the flavors. Your only limitation is your imagination. Run wild.



So I could write about these three styles all day, but in the interest of length, I shall stop here for now. Hopefully these tips helped and please let me know of your own experiences. Happy Wednesday Everyone!!

Friday Feature – Author Laurel McHargue

So a big welcome to a fellow Colorado writer today – Laurel McHargue. In addition to being a guest on my blog, today is a special day for her. It is the 35th anniversary of her graduation from West Point Academy. That is amazing and I’m glad that she was willing to share her journey with us. So on to her story 🙂

West Point Senior Photo


Why My Goal is to Publish in Every Genre

By Laurel McHargue


When my high school guidance counselor told me I shouldn’t apply to Smith College as an early decision applicant—I should have several backups in my pocket—I wasn’t mature enough to realize she was projecting her own insecurities onto me, as if I needed more than my own at the time. But I applied the way I wanted to, was accepted, and got to know myself as a person separate from my parents over three challenging and eye-opening semesters on the picturesque Northampton campus.

What I discovered was how little I knew about myself.

I accepted a job through Smith’s summer work placement program after my first year. The job? Housekeeper, light fare cook, and companion to a 65-year-old Smith grad. I hadn’t cooked a day in my life up to that point. The fourth of five girls in my family, I was often dodging too many helpers in our kitchen, but I never minded hanging out in my bedroom with a good book. I was fairly sure I could follow a recipe and not kill anyone with the resultant meal.

And what a wonderful opportunity! I’d live for six weeks with a woman who’d be my mentor. She had worked at Harvard Business School before retiring. She would help me discover my purpose in life.


She had no time for me—ME!—and no interest in mentoring a young Smithie. She barely acknowledged my presence. So I cleaned her ashtrays and accompanied her between her apartment in Boston’s Prudential Center and her little place on the beach in Connecticut and didn’t kill her with my cooking.

And I decided I needed a change.

My parents had raised me to believe I could do and be anything I wanted, yet I knew I’d never really been tested academically, physical, and emotionally. I wanted to be tested.

I had my meeting with the Dean of Smith in November of my sophomore year, a requirement for anyone leaving the ivy towers of the Seven Sisters College, to tell her I’d started an application to the United States Military Academy at West Point and would leave Smith at the end of the semester to prepare. I was fairly confident my application would be approved.

She told me I shouldn’t leave. I was making a mistake. Didn’t I see how well I was doing at Smith? She told me I really shouldn’t make such a drastic move. It wouldn’t be a good fit for me.


She was almost right. As a woman in the fourth class to see women at West Point, I experienced the wrath of many cadets, grads, and professors who believed women shouldn’t be marching alongside the men of the Long Gray Line. I came close to failing out of West Point because my plebe English instructor, an Army Captain, told me I couldn’t write.

But I could, and I did, and after graduating from West Point in 1983, I served in the Army for nine years on Active Duty and over three more in the Army Reserves. But what does any of this have to do with my goal as an author?

The answer is simple. First and foremost, I want to publish in every genre because it will be a challenge. Second and aftmost (thought I’d made up that word, but alas, I did not), I’ve been told I shouldn’t.

After publishing “Miss?” and Waterwight, an author friend told me I should adopt a pseudonym for publishing The Hare, Raising Truth because clearly, my niche is educational writing and The Hare is, well, rather naughty. Not naughty enough to check porn off my “to do” list, but not nice enough for a middle school classroom—though many of my former 7th grade students would disagree.

Different writing conferences I’ve attended also have promoted the “niche” message. “Market yourself as a (fill in the blank) writer.” “Be the ‘go to’ author for (this specific) genre.” And what has been my response to these messages?


Every genre presents its challenges, and I’m a firm believer that a life filled with challenges will never be boring. As I work on Waterwight Breathe this year, the last book of my Waterwight Trilogy, I write with full awareness that I’m doing something I “shouldn’t” do. I’m writing it in first person present tense, whereas my first two books remain consistently in third person past tense. Why?

You know why. It’s different. It’s a challenge. I haven’t done it before, and after reading The Hunger Games Trilogy, I was inspired to try it. I wrote The Hare, Raising Truth in second person perspective for the same reason, and Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone voice was a powerful inspiration behind each creepy scene. It was great fun to write.

So while many will stand by their advice that I shouldn’t write in multiple genres, I believe I should, and I will. If Neil Gaiman can do it, so can I. And hey, is someone going to knock on my door and drag me off to jail for breaking any “rules” of writing?

I think not. But if I do find myself behind bars for daring to color outside the lines, just think of the story I’ll write about it. It’ll be a challenge.




Award-winning author Laurel McHargue, a 1983 graduate of The United States Military Academy at West Point, was raised in Braintree, Massachusetts, but somehow found her way to the breathtaking elevation of Leadville, Colorado, where she has taught and currently lives with her husband and Ranger, the German Shepherd. She established Leadville Literary League, a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote local literary endeavors and the arts, and hosts the podcast ‘Alligator Preserves’ about storytelling and the human condition. She blogs about life, real and imagined, at Find her at the 2018 Denver Comic Con June 15-17.



Laurel’s Amazon Author Page

Laurel’s website

Laurel’s Twitter

Laurel’s Facebook

Alligator Preserves Podcast


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