IWSG and A to Z Challenge: My Bucket List! – Past, Present, and Future: A is for Ancestral Castles

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first insecure-writers-support-group-badge Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it here.

For me, insecurities come and go, but the one that seems to be hanging around the most right now, as I work on the third book in the Trouble series, is: What if this book doesn’t live up to the first two books in the series? I’ve had people tell me they love the series so far (which I love hearing!), and sometimes I worry that maybe future stories won’t be as successful. But I keep telling myself there’s no way to answer that question until I get the book done, so I need to push those worries aside and keep on writing.

 

Now on to the A to Z Challenge!

I’m taking the long way around with A to Z this year. My plan is to post every couple of weeks, so I will have time to visit other blogs in between and still have time to write.

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A is for – Ancestral Castles

I had always wanted to go to Scotland. My heritage, and that of my late husband, both lie in that beautiful isle. Her wild, purple-heathered moors, centuries-old castles, and rugged Highlands still call to me, and the sound of bagpipes is music to my soul. Twenty-five years ago this summer, we visited Scotland and went in search of our ancestral castles.

Clan MacLachlan hails from the lands of Strathlachlan on Loch Fyne in the county of Argyll on the west coast of Scotland. It’s one of the oldest Scottish Highland clans. According to clan history, the clan is descended from Lachlan Mor, who lived on Loch Fyne in the late 13th century. Old Castle Lachlan dates back to that time. The MacLachlans were Jacobites, whose goal was to restore the Stuart line to the throne of England and Scotland. According to the Old Lachlan Castle website (http://www.oldcastlelachlan.com/about/clan-maclachlan):

“Lachlan, the seventeenth chief of Clan Maclachlan, supported Bonnie Prince Charlie in the Jacobite Rising of 1745, and died leading the clan at the battle of Culloden in 1746. Following the defeat a Government ship is believed to have sailed up Loch Fyne and shelled Castle Lachlan, forcing the chief’s family to abandon it.”

When we visited, the castle was a pensive ruin, overgrown with grass, trees, and vines. I loved imagining what it must have looked like in its heyday, the stories it could tell.

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My family traces back to Robert the Bruce, seventh lord of Annandale, who was crowned King Robert I of Scotland in 1306. In the war for Scottish independence, he and his forces defeated the English at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Clan Bruce lands lie in the Lowlands of Scotland in the county of Dumfries and Galloway. One of the seats of the lords of Annandale was Lochmaben Castle, originally built in the mid-twelfth century by the first Robert Bruce as an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. Scottish history describes the castle this way (http://www.castlesfortsbattles.co.uk/dumfries_galloway/lochmaben_castle.html):

“Once a mighty Royal fortress at the forefront of the Wars for Independence, Lochmaben Castle changed hands between English and Scottish forces over a dozen times as the fortunes of each side ebbed and flowed.”

The castle ultimately fell after being bombarded by the English in a two-day siege in 1588. A few of the walls still stood when we were there, a tribute to the stubbornness and indomitable spirit of the Scots.

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Our trip around Scotland was amazing, full of adventure, discovery, laughter, and love. Scotland is a truly magical place, so it’s not surprising that her National Animal is the Unicorn. Alas, I didn’t see any while I was there, but maybe next time…

 

And now for the Writing Update:

I added almost 6,000 words to my WIP, Trouble Times Three, during the month of March. That’s way more than I’ve been accomplishing, so I’m excited about my progress! Crossing my fingers I can keep it up!

 

Anyone else have any bucket list items beginning with A?

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2020. All rights reserved.

A to Z Challenge 2020, Modified Version, and Writing Updates

Spring is my favorite time of year. I love to see new growth poking up through the dirt, flowers blossoming, and the leaves budding on the trees. The smell of the air on cool, crisp mornings is rejuvenating. Spring brings with it the promise of renewal after the raw, relentless days of winter. Spring brings hope, which is something we can all use right now, in the midst of the pandemic currently plaguing the world. 2020_A2Z_Badge

In the blogging world, Spring brings the April A to Z Challenge. I haven’t participated for a few years due to time constraints. It’s been a while since I’ve done any blogging at all for the same reasons. But I’ve been wanting to get back into it, and the A to Z Challenge seems like the perfect time to jump back in. This will have to be a modified version, though, since time is still a precious commodity. My plan is to post every two or three weeks and spread it out over the year, so I will have time to visit other blogs in between and still have time to write.

My theme for the A to Z Challenge: My Bucket List! — Past, Present, and Future. I’ll be blogging about items on my bucket list that I’ve accomplished and those that are still adventures-in-waiting.

I’m also planning to use these posts to give writing updates on my current WIP, Trouble Times Three, to help keep me moving forward with it. The one benefit of being ordered to stay home due to the corona virus is that I have more writing time, a silver lining around a very dark cloud.

So in the meantime, until the Challenge officially starts, please check out the book trailer video I made for my WIP and the book cover animations by morganwrightbooks.com on my new animations page. For the best view, try full screen mode. See everyone on April 1st!

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2020. All rights reserved.

Celebrate the Small Things!

Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly celebration created by VikLit and now hosted by Lexa Cain to celebrate the happenings of the week, however small or large. You can learn all about it and sign up for it hereCelebrateSmallThings_Badge

It’s the Weekend! And I’m happy to be celebrating some exciting and fun things, like —

1.  A fantastic review from the Booklife Prize in Fiction! The reviewer said:

“MacLaughlin’s plot is exciting, fast-paced, and full of surprises. From detailed maps of the fantasy world to the overall magical mystery, MacLaughlin’s work possesses the charm of the work of Holly Black and Neil Gaiman, and the supernatural and whimsical elements evident in such worlds as C.S. Lewis’s Narnia. The Road Once Taken is titillating and terrifying, an enchanting novel that straddles the line between the fantasy and mystery genres.”

I may not win the actual Booklife prize, but the review is enough of a prize for me.

2.  I started writing Book 4! One chapter down, many more to go. This isn’t the book I’m supposed to be working on, but it’s the story that’s loudest in my head right now.

3.  Drive-in movies! Last summer, my family and I rediscovered drive-in movies. I used to go to them when I was a kid. They were a lot of fun. Last night, we went to see Christopher Robin at the Sunset Drive-in. Very cute family friendly movie. From where I was sitting in the driver’s seat, I actually could see all four movie screens — Christopher Robin in front, The Meg and Incredibles 2 out the side window, and occasional glances at The Spy Who Dumped Me in my side mirror. It was great.

4.  A fun trip to a waterpark! Swimming and sliding and just cooling off. It was sooo nice after all the hot weather we’ve had.

What other celebrations are going on out there?

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2018. All rights reserved.

IWSG — The Fleetingness of Summer

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it hereinsecure-writers-support-group-badge

I had writing plans for this summer. Not big ones, but small ones I thought would be doable. I’d market my new book and get started on my next one. I’d get back into blogging. As I’m turning the page from July to August, I’m realizing the summer is nearly over and I’ve hardly accomplished any of the things I’d wanted to. This will be my second blog post since last year, so there’s a tiny bit of progress. I just need to build on it.

The idea was to continue to get up early over the summer and use that time to write before having to go to work. That doesn’t work well, though, unless I go to bed early enough to still get 7-8 hours’ sleep. A foggy brain does not a good writer make. It was a great plan, in theory. But I can’t believe how hard it is to make myself go to bed early. Between after-dinner family time and doing what needs to be done, it’s 10:30 – 11:00 PM before I know it.

So my insecurity for this month is that I won’t be able to turn my schedule around, salvage the summer, and at least get my next book started. Can I do it? We’ll see. Wish me luck!

The ISWG question for this month is: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

I think the biggest pitfall for an independent/self-published writer would be to not go the extra mile to put out a quality product. Professional editing, proofreading, and a professionally designed book cover are essential if a writer wants to be taken seriously. It’s the only way self-publishing will lose its stigma of being inferior to traditional publishing. Self-pubbing has come a long way, and we need to keep it moving forward.

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2018. All rights reserved.

Celebrate the Small Things! – Back from a very long blogging hiatus

Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly celebration created by VikLit and now hosted by Lexa Cain to celebrate the happenings of the week, however small or large. You can learn all about it and sign up for it here.

Happy Summer! I’m jumping back into the blogging pond. Or maybe I should say ocean. I don’t know if I will be able to keep up with posting every week, but will try for every other week, at least. I’m looking forward to catching up with what’s been going on with everyone.

Celebrations in general:

  1. My daughter graduated from high school last month and will be heading off to St. Michael’s College at the end of August!
  2. My job is going well.
  3. I finally managed to publish my third book! The Road Once Taken came out in e-book in April, and the print version came out June 1st. I have a book signing tomorrow from 2:00 to 4:00 at the Eloquent Page bookstore in St. Albans, VT. Woo hoo!!

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The Road Once Taken

 Jacinda Harper just wants a vacation — a little time to spend with an old friend and her new baby. But a speeding car on a rain-slicked road crashes just ahead of her, and alters her life forever.

 The last wish from the dying woman in the wrecked car sends Jaci to a lonely mansion, where she finds a mysterious grandfather clock, a cryptic diary, and a strange key… and magic…

 Unwittingly transported into a fantastical world of ominous castles, wild forests, and rebel swordsmen — a world ruled by a ruthless sorcerer whose quest for world domination has long been thwarted by the loss of a magical key stolen from this world long ago — the key that Jaci has just brought back into his reach…

 Jaci must find a way back to her own world before the sorcerer finds her.

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What other celebrations are going on out there?

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2018. All rights reserved.

IWSG — Time Flies, Whether You’re Having Fun Or Not

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it here

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How did it get to be July already??? I had hoped to get more blogging done in June, but that didn’t happen. And I didn’t get much done in the way of visiting during last month’s IWSG, either, but I’ll try again this month and hopefully do better.

I am making progress on my WIP, though. Whoo hoo! I’m right at the edge of the climax and can’t wait to see what surprises are in store before I hit The End. I just need to find a way to carve out a little more writing time. It’s so hard to do when there are so many demands on my time. My insecurity is that I won’t be able to find that time and writing and blogging will fall by the wayside again. Does anyone ever feel like they have enough time to do all the things that need to be done?

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2017. All rights reserved.

IWSG — Working My Way Back

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it here.

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Wow, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve had a chance to get back into the blogosphere. When life steps in, it can throw everything for a loop. But I’m happy to say I survived the intensive ten-week training course, passed the required 4-hour certification exam, and have settled into my new job, which is going really well.

The best part is that I’m finally starting to get back into writing. I can’t tell you how good that feels. So what is my insecurity this month? I’m wondering if writing is like riding a bicycle. It’s been so long since I’ve written anything new that I sometimes feel like I’ve forgotten how. I’ve been reading through my current WIP so it will be fresh in my mind. It’s called The Road Once Taken, and it’s about ¾ done, so I don’t have too much left to write. My goal is to publish it this fall. Fingers crossed that I can find the time to make it happen.

My free time is still extremely limited so it may take me a while to return visits and see what everyone has been up to in the last six months, but today’s post is a start, and I’ll be working my way back to blogging more often.

One thing I did accomplish was to get the book cover done. I wanted to have some “coming soon” book cards printed to hand out at the book events I have coming up this summer. Carrie Butler of Forward Authority Design did a fantastic job with it. And I always get the images for the cover and for the book trailer at the same time, so I’ve been playing around with that, too. Click below to see the latest version.

Happy IWSG Day!!

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2017. All rights reserved.